JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's an unusual night at the Jacksonville Humane Society, as many cages sit empty. That's because, this weekend, Jacksonville will host one of the larget pet adoption events in the country.
Thirteen area rescues and shelters have partnered together for the event, to be held at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds this Friday through Sunday. They are hoping more than 1,200 cats and dogs will find a forever home, which will ease tension at shelters, where they are full or almost full this holiday.
"The shelters in Jacksonville are at capacity most of the time," says Denise Deisler, Executive Director of the Jacksonville Humane Society.
Deisler says surrendered pets are a major reason local shelters are full. Many owners become physically unable care for their pets, which is a growing problem that's unique to Florida, where more than 17 percent of the population is over age 65.
"Florida has more retirees and senior citizens, and Jacksonville has a lot of destination medical facilities for people who recieve long term care. They hope for a good outcome, but sometimes it doesn't work out that way."
Deisler says 15 of the dogs available for adoption this weekend belonged to a woman who just learned she is terminally ill, and Deisler says the Humane Society almost didn't have room for them.
"Typically, under normal circumstances, without a big event in front of us, we may not have been in a position to help that family."
The dogs, she says, are healthy, however, and she hopes people will open their hearts this weekend, to give them a new place to call home.
In Jacksonville, 15,000 pets are surrendered each year in Jacksonville, which is half what it was 10 years ago. Deisler credits spaying and neutering efforts and education. By this time next year, she expects Jacksonville to be the largest no-kill city in the country.
The adoption event will be held Friday through Sunday at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.