Hundreds of cats and dogs are up for adoption at the Jacksonville Fairground through 6 p.m. Saturday.
The Mega Pet Adoption event is being hosted by First Coast No More Homeless Pets, a nonprofit that tries to keep animals from going to and being killed in shelters. According to the Jacksonville Fairgrounds, these Mega Pet Adoptions are the largest adoption events in the country.
First Coast No More Homeless Pets founder and CEO Rick DuCharme says through 27 Mega Pet Adoptions over the past six years, more than 17,000 cats and dogs have found homes.
“We work together, partner with all of our local shelters and rescues to provide an adoption venue for pets that they already have in their shelters,” he said.
More than 120 animals were adopted on Thursday alone, and DuCharme expects hundreds more to find new homes before the event wraps up on Saturday.
Elizabeth Thornton with Nassau County Animal Services said the events are great for animals that are difficult to home, like Butterscotch, who was adopted on Thursday, the first day of the event.
“She came in as a stray and she had a very weak immune system,” Thornton said. “We tested her and she ended up having demodex on top of a food allergy.”
Demodectic mange, sometimes called demodex or red mange, is a parasite that lives in the hair follicles of dogs. It’s more prevalent in animals with immature or deficient immune systems.
Thornton said things were so bad that Butterscotch had sores from head to toe. They didn’t expect her to make it.
After weeks of treatment Butterscotch finally got well enough that they could bring her to this event. But Thornton said potential adoptees are wary.
“Skin issues cost so much money. You have to do this, you have to do that, so many vet visits,” she said. “They don’t want to take home a dog that’s already going to have problems.”
Despite those challenges, a nurse saw Butterscotch on Thursday and wanted to take her home. “Butterscotch loved her,” Thornton went on to say. “It was like a connection. She wanted to cuddle with her. Butterscotch is a big cuddler. It was great.”
Thornton said the dog will be fostered to make sure her new mom can handle her skin condition and allergies before the adoption becomes permanent, but she’s hopeful.
“She had knowledge of how to treat infections,” Thornton said of Butterscotch’s new foster mom. “She has that compassion to care for people. Basically, us knowing that she has that knowledge made us feel better that she’s going to take care of this.”
Thornton said the huge size of the adoption event makes things much easier. “People come from all over for this,” she said.
Adoption fees are $20 and cover spaying/neutering, a microchip, vaccines and a Jacksonville city license. Adoptions are free for active duty service members and veterans.
Parking and entry to the event are free.