ORLANDO – There are plenty of gift items to consider giving loved ones this holiday season, from electronics to clothing to gift cards.
If one county agency does its job well, there could be another possible option: a new cat or dog.
During the month of September the Animal Services offices in
Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties, and the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando, are teaming up to host a Central Florida shelter pet adoption special.
During the remainder of this month, the four shelters are reducing adoption fees for dogs and cats to $12. The program has been dubbed, appropriately enough, a “Home for the Holidays” deal to “will help spread awareness for the homeless shelter pets who are ready to find a new family,” noted Carolina Devine, the marketing and public relations coordinator for
Orange County Animal Services, in a news release about the program.
The goal, Devine added, is to ultimately adopt out a total of 2,000 animals from the participating shelters, and they’re also making animals that are available for adoption viewable on each participating organization’s web site.
If a local resident is browsing one of those sites and sees an animal that they fall in love with, they can contact the shelter individually, Devine noted.
for specific information about a particular adoptable dog or cat.
Dil Luther, the division manager for Orange County Animal Services, added, “While every animal in our shelter is warm and well taken care of this holiday season, we know they would rather be snuggling with a new family in a cozy home. We encourage everyone who is ready for the life-long commitment of owning a pet to adopt this holiday season and experience the unconditional love they have to offer.”
Kim Staton, director of the Osceola County Animal Services , agreed, and added, “We want all the participating shelters to be empty for Christmas. That would be a huge gift to the animals and community.”
Fraily Rodriguez, vice-president of the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando, added that there is a continued problem with the uncontrolled breeding of dogs and cats – which includes the selling of puppies and kittens online and in stores if they have not been spayed or neutered first. Without this safeguard, Rodriguez added, this situation contributes to animal homelessness.
Animals adopted from shelters, on the other hand, are first spayed or neutered, completely vaccinated, microchipped for identification, and examined by a veterinarian.
“The homeless animal crisis tragically impacts all of Central Florida,” Rodriguez said. “Area animal shelters have aligned with the single focus of saving lives this holiday season and we are asking the community to do its part by adopting a dog or cat.”
Bob Hunter, Seminole County’s Animal Services manager, said people need to act fast before the holidays are over.
“This holiday season,” he said, “please consider bringing home a very special gift from our family to yours – a lovable shelter pet. Open your heart and your home to our partnership pets, and you’ll be making a difference in both of your lives.”
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..