June 21, 2022
Due to severe overcrowding, volunteers are desperately needed at the Alachua County Animal Resources and Care (AR&C) shelter. 

Volunteer opportunities include dog walker, cat cuddler, dog wrangler, animal photographer, dog play group attendant, transporting animals, enrichment facilitator, adoption counselor, off-site adoption event assistant, foster parenting, and facilitating doggy day outings.

To volunteer, please fill out the online registration form. Once you submit the form, you will be sent a zoom link to the mandatory zoom orientation. Currently, an orientation is scheduled for Saturday, June 25, 2022, at 9:30 a.m.

“We are so grateful for the help from our volunteers and other animal care agencies,” commented AR&C Acting Director Nikki Healy. “My hope is that folks will use this new streamlined volunteer application to join us in caring for the animals in our severely overcrowded shelter.”

Special Meeting on June 28, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The Alachua County Commission will conduct a Special Meeting to discuss Alachua County Animal Resources and Care and the current animal overcrowding at the shelter. The meeting is Tuesday, June 28, 2022, at 5 p.m. at the Alachua County Administration Building (12 S.E. 1st Street, Gainesville). 

Originally, the meeting was to be held on June 21, at 1:30 p.m. After hearing from multiple interested parties that an evening meeting was preferred to facilitate more community participation, the meeting time was changed. The new meeting time will also enable a more detailed presentation from Animal Resources and Care Acting Director Nikki Healy.
Newly Formed Animal Welfare Advisory Committee Vacancies
The Alachua County Commission is seeking applicants to fill vacancies on the newly established Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (AWAC). The date, time, and location of the quarterly meetings will be determined by a majority vote of members at their first noticed meeting. The terms are for three years, and the initial appointments will be staggered. The application deadline is June 30, 2022. 

AWAC will assist the County in promoting the adoption of shelter pets, the welfare of animals, and the importance of the human-animal bond. AWAC will promote greater community awareness of Alachua County’s Animal Resources & Care Department and its mission, programs, and accomplishments. It will carry out the responsibilities of a community engagement body in order to work with and support Animal Resources & Care. AWAC will engage with and receive reports from Animal Resources & Care as well as the various local not-for-profit animal welfare organizations and relevant stakeholders. It also will assist and advise the County on future animal-related policies and issues, and prepare and update an Annual Work Plan and Report of Accomplishments.

Animal Shelter Critically Over Crowded, Adoption Fees Waived, Help Needed
This is an urgent plea to our community, volunteers, and animal placement partners who have space. Effective immediately, all adoption fees are being waived until the shelter can reach a manageable capacity. Pet adopters must be 18 or older and show identification with proof of current address. All adoptable cats and dogs are vaccinated, microchipped, and sterilized before going home. The shelter (3400 NE 53rd Avenue, Gainesville) is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., excluding holidays.

Volunteer dog walkers are also desperately needed, and fostering opportunities with a one-month minimum commitment are available.

In recent months, intakes have exceeded outcomes (adoptions, transfers, and owner reclaims). A recent case in Micanopy resulted in the confiscation of 23 additional animals. Springtime has brought with it the usual overabundance of kittens & puppies. All of this has contributed to overcrowding at the shelter, with upwards of 50 dogs above what the current shelter was designed to hold. And the County, like other businesses, has been affected by the nationwide staffing shortage. These circumstances are not unique to Alachua County.  

“There is an overabundance of animals in our southern shelters,” said Cathy Bissell, founder of the BISSELL Pet Foundation, in a recent online article. “Shelters that have not euthanized for space in years are now having to make those painful choices,” Bissell continued.
Hurricane Preparedness Reminders
The month of June marks the start of hurricane season. Hurricanes can be extremely dangerous and disruptive to the community. Alachua County Fire Rescue (ACFR) would like to remind everyone to be prepared and stay alert in case of a hurricane. 

To prepare for a hurricane, make an emergency plan that includes where you and your family will go in case of an evacuation. Know your evacuation zone and learn the route you will need to take. Review and create copies of personal and financial documents to keep on hand. 

Summer Hot Weather Safety Reminders
With high temperatures on the rise this weekend, Alachua County Fire Rescue would like to remind everyone to remain safe from the heat. Follow these tips to stay cool this summer.  

Prevent illnesses that arise from the heat by taking breaks from the sun. The sun is at its strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., so limit your exposure to the sun during these times. Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher when in the sun. Wear loose, light-colored clothing when outdoors. Consider wearing a hat with a brim and sunglasses with a high UV rating. The sun can cause burns or more harmful effects such as skin cancer without proper protection. 

Arts Tag Mini Grants Available for Local Artists
Alachua County artists, artist collaborators, and not-for-profit organizations can apply for an Arts Tag Mini Grant (the maximum award is $1,000). The application deadline is midnight on July 31, 2022. Grants will provide funding for visual art supplies, music supplies, advertising, studio time, printing, costumes, equipment, and other project-related expenses.

The impetuous for the grants came in May of 2020, when, in adopting the Alachua County Public Arts Ordinance, the Alachua County Commission declared that "art shall be an integral part of Alachua County" and also declared that "the mission of the County public arts program is to enhance the quality of the visual environment in Alachua County, thereby adding to the quality of life and the level of citizen awareness of the importance of aesthetic experiences in their everyday lives.”

Alachua County Clerk’s Office Recognized for Excellence in Best Practices
On June 8, 2022, the Alachua County Clerk of Court and Comptroller’s Office was recognized by the Florida Court Clerks and Comptrollers Association for excellence in having completed the Best Practices Excellence Program in all twelve of the categories offered. 

Clerk J.K. “Jess” Irby said, “I am tremendously proud the office was recognized for successfully implementing all of the recommended best practice procedures. This is recognition of the major commitment we have made and the hard work done by the Clerk’s Office’s staff to put in place the highest set of professional standards, so we can achieve a level of service and commitment to excellence that is unsurpassed.”

Rescue Unit 24 to be Taken Out of Service
​Like other public safety agencies in the State of Florida, Alachua County Fire Rescue has struggled to maintain an adequate workforce to meet the needs of a service delivery demand that continues to grow. The department has continually advertised its vacancies but has been unsuccessful in filling them. Therefore, the department has had to rely upon overtime and mandatory overtime to keep units in service. Mandatory overtime is when an employee is not scheduled to work but is required to do so.

Regarding mandatory overtime, Alachua County Fire Chief Harold Theus stated, “We have worked hard to reduce and eliminate mandatory assignments when we can. These last few months, it has reached an unreasonable point. Mandatory assignments are not good for the employee, the department, or the citizens we serve. We have implemented several changes to accommodate for our reduced workforce, but at this point, I have no other option other than taking a rescue unit out of service.”