In early June, the HSUS Animal Rescue Team deployed to Florida to help Alachua County Animal Services remove nearly 700 cats from appalling conditions, in one of the largest cat rescues in American history. We called on our partners to support us on the scene, with the ASPCA’s forensic services team helping document conditions; PetSmart Charities donating supplies; The Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida conducting triage veterinary exams; and RedRover joining HSUS staff and volunteers caring for the cats at our emergency shelter in Gainesville.
After receiving more than two months of dedicated care there, the cats have reached a major new marker in their lives. Their previous owners have relinquished custody, and The Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida has stepped in to spay and neuter the animals. This weekend, we’re proud to be working with the Alachua County Humane Society, Alachua County Animal Services, PetSmart Charities, and The Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida to host a special adoption event for these very special cats rescued by The HSUS to find their new homes.
More than 500 of these rescued cats will be available for adoption at the Alachua County Humane Society in Gainesville from Aug. 26-28. You can find full details about the event here, and I encourage you to spread the word to anyone in the area who may be interested in adopting a new feline companion or two. Adopters don’t have to live in Florida, and there will be all ages and types of cats available. All the animals have had proper veterinary evaluations, and thanks to a generous grant from PetSmart Charities, adoption fees are only $5.
In the meantime, HSUS staff members on site are getting ready for the big event and helping the cats to put their best foot forward. Our director of animal cruelty investigations, Adam Parascandola, is at the emergency shelter and sent this update on two animals who made a big impression on the day of the rescue.
Possum is a blind Siamese cat seen in our video from the rescue. He has feline leukemia virus, which is a serious disease but many FeLV-positive cats are generally healthy with proper treatment. We know he is feeling better because he has become more playful and outgoing. He reaches out for attention now. And the best news of all for Possum: One of the University of Florida veterinarians fell in love with him and plans to adopt him this week.
The blind cat named Possum.
Another star cat from our video, Velcro, is super affectionate and clamors for attention. This orange-and-white tabby loves to climb on your shoulders. Due to severe neglect, he suffers from oral ulcers. Best Friends Animal Society will be taking him in to get him back to health so he can be adopted. He is one of 10 cats with significant medical issues that Best Friends will be caring for.
Overall, the cats are facing many issues stemming from long-term neglect, though they’ve improved dramatically in the last two months. Several dozen have been treated for ringworm, a skin infection. Dental issues are also prevalent and many animals will need some dental work. Though most of the cats are friendly, we’ll work to find appropriate homes for the unsocialized ones as well.
But today when I walk through the shelter, it’s such a joy to see calm and happy cats with few signs of remaining illness. Many of them are feeling so much better they have become quite playful, which tells me they are ready to be placed in homes where they can get the individualized attention they so richly deserve.
You can follow updates from this weekend's adopt-a-thon on Twitter by searching for #FLFeline550.