From loathsome conditions to loving homes

Hundreds of rescued animals adopted in countywide event at fairgounds

By Don Coble don@claytodayonline.com
Posted 11/17/21

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Linda Lee didn’t adopt a new pet Saturday morning at the Clay County Fairgrounds. She found a “new companion.”

The woman from Orange Park was clearly emotional after …

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From loathsome conditions to loving homes

Hundreds of rescued animals adopted in countywide event at fairgounds

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Linda Lee didn’t adopt a new pet Saturday morning at the Clay County Fairgrounds. She found a “new companion.”

The woman from Orange Park was clearly emotional after she took one of the abused animals rescued from a home last month from a home on Old Jennings Road. The dog spent most of its life stuffed with other helpless animals in crates on a property littered with fleas, feces, empty water, rats, and empty food and water bowls, along with the and skeletal remains of other animals who couldn’t survive the horrific conditions.

“Now she will get the run of the house,” Lee said.

Clay County officials put all of the animals taken from the 1.29-acre lot – 104 dogs, 72 chickens, 28 pigs, six goats, two turtles, six pigeons, two quail and a duck and a goose – up for adoption last weekend. Residents were required to apply for an appointment time in advance of the event and the order was set randomly after each applicant was vetted.

“[Counting puppies] we had about 310 animals and we adopted all [of them], so it was a very successful event,” said County Emergency Management Director John Ward.

Little dogs clearly were the favorite finds in the two-day event. Larger dogs, goats and 71 chickens and other birds were gone by Sunday night. The last 14 pigs, two rabbits and a rooster were taken by Wednesday.

Six-year-old Wren Fitzgerald liked the Continental Toy Spaniel because “she’s soft and has cute fur.” She said volunteers named the dog Gilly, but she wants to change it to Cocoa Belle.

“I registered as soon as I saw the story about the animals in the news,” said Awren Fitzgerald, Wren’s mother. “This was the best way to get a new family member. It really hits you when you go in [to the livestock stalls] and see all of the animals. It’s unbelievable.”

One couple left with a Shih Tzu. They tried to use a leash to lead the dog to the parking lot, but the dog was so unaccustomed to being out of a cage, it took one step and sat. The man eventually picked the dog up and carried it to the car.

“You have to have patience,” said one volunteer. “This is all new to these dogs.”

Lee said one of her first stops will be at a groomer, where the dog will get her nails painted pink.

“They didn’t give me a name, but I’m calling her Baby Doll,” she said. “She’s small and she’s calm. She and I will match.”

Lee’s daughter, Donna Gushanas, also was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the rescue.

“When you get halfway through and all the way to the end, it really hits you,” she said. “There are so many. It feels good knowing we can take one home. That’s going to be one lucky dog.”

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