If you’re looking to make a forever home for a new furry best friend, you could find them this weekend at the Pensacola Interstate Fairgrounds.
More than 20 animal rescue and other organizations will have a menagerie of adoptable critters at the “Fall in Love” Mega Adoption event on Saturday from 10 am to 4 p.m. Organizer Sharyn Berg — the director of Animal Allies — says the goal is to get at least 100 animals adopted on that day.
“I think we can do 100; it’s definitely a goal,” says Berg. “It gives all the rescues a resource and an opportunity. Also, it gives people in the area a one-stop shop type of thing where they can come in and get to see a bunch of pets in one place and make the best fit for their family.”
The number of stray animals in the EscaRosa area is a major issue, says Berg, because residents have yet to catch on to the concept of spay and neuter, which would solve many of those problems.
“Santa Rosa County Animal Shelter kills 93 percent of the cats that get taken there; that’s a huge percentage,” Berg says. “Escambia [County] is doing much better, and dogs are better than cats in general at both shelters. But the strays are a huge problem, and why we need so many rescues.”
There’s no real common mindset among those thinking about opening their homes to a new pet. It’s a matter of preference and space.
“People say they have two dogs, but they had a cat and the cat has passed away and they’d like to get another cat,” says Berg. Or they have two cats and they’d like to make room for a dog, or they have four cats and they’d like to make room for a fifth cat.
“Almost everybody has room in their hearts, but not necessarily actual room in the house.”
One thing to remember, says Berg, is that when you adopt a pet, it’s a lifelong commitment. She adds that it’s unfortunate when people think they can just toss them away.
“I’m moving and I didn’t find a place that lets me have pets,” Berg lists as a common excuse. “A lot of places let you have pets; find one that lets you keep your family member. We have lots of people, especially [Pensacola] being a military town, there are people who travel with their pets from Japan and Europe. So, why can’t you move across town and take your pet with you?”
One of the many demonstrations on tap for the event will be instruction on “Trap/Neuter/Return,” in which stray and feral cats are captured, taken to a vet for neutering, and then returned to the wild.
“They get fixed and vaccinated; they get their left ear tip cut off at the very top,” said Berg. “That way, anybody who sees them knows that cat has been vaccinated and spayed or neutered. It’s a life-saving ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card. If they get taken to the pound and have an ear tip, the pound will actually take them back to where they were originally trapped.”
So far, the story’s been about dogs and cats. But those aren’t the only animals seeking forever homes on Saturday, including mini-pigs that Berg shelters at an undisclosed location.
“They’re litterbox rained, they’re clicker trained, they sit on command; they make wonderful pets, they’re very smart,” Berg says. “And then, Panhandle Equine Rescue is going to be there too. I think they’re bringing only one horse but they’re going to have their full notebook of all the horses they have available.”
A large group of volunteers will be on hand, to provide information on the animals up for adoption. And the information part is a gate that swings both ways. Not only is the question “Is this the right pet for you?” But also “Are you right for the pet?”
“Some rescue [groups] will be talking to people, taking their application, then they’ll have to do a home visit,” says Berg. “Make sure they have a fenced-in yard for dogs [and] that the dogs won’t be chained up. Panhandle Equine Rescue certainly has to do that as well; we do that with the pigs. We don’t do that so much for the cats because our cats stay inside.”
Animal Allies’ Sharyn Berg says the plan is to hold the mega-adoption events twice a year, beginning in 2019 – in February for National Spay and Neuter Month, and in September.