One of the greatest things about living in Florida is the beach.  What dog doesn’t like to run along the sandy shore and dip their paws in the salty surf?  Many of my canine friends absolutely love exploring the sights and smells along the coast. But, for all its excitement, the beach can spell trouble, too. Taking time to prepare and knowing what to expect once you get there can make your outing fun – and safe.

Know the Rules

After choosing a hot spot to hang out, check the rules:  remember that beach rules are actually laws, and can be punishable by a citation or fine.

Some beaches only allow dogs on the beach in the early morning and after chow time while others grant round the clock access.  Also, make sure to follow the leash laws – not all dog-friendly beaches have an off-leash policy.  Not picking up poop can harm our coast, so always bring waste bags to clean up after potty breaks.  And stay off the dunes – prohibiting foot, and paw traffic helps protect our shoreline.

Not All Dogs Can Swim

Some dogs woof with excitement for water while others – not so much. Humans assume that all dogs can swim when the truth is, they can’t. You can test and see if your dog is capable of swimming by finding calm water to let him practice his doggie paddle before hitting the waves. When in doubt, it’s best to put them in a life vest for protection. And never let your pet enter the water unsupervised.  Pet parents should always be prepared to save their pets from dangerous conditions – and vicious sea creatures.

Don’t Drink the Water

It can be tempting for your dog to take a quick sip while walking along the shore, but guzzling too much salt water is a bad idea.  It can lead to beach diarrhea and make for a messy ride home.  Pack plenty of fresh, cool water to rehydrate your dog after romping around in the sand.

Block the Rays

Dogs are prone to sunburn just like humans, particularly those breeds that have short hair, white fur, and pink skin. Apply doggie sunscreen (yes, it’s a thing) to the nose, ears, and body at least half an hour before going outside. Do not use sunscreen that contains zinc – it can be toxic to dogs.

Also make sure to have a shady retreat.  Although it may not protect your pet from sunburn, it can help beat the heat.

Protect Your Paws

If the sand is too hot for your feet, chances are it’s also hot enough to burn your pup’s paw. Sharp shells, broken glass, and rough rock also pose a risk.  Use a paw balm or wax for pawtection and inspect your pet’s paws for cuts and scrapes when you get home.

Rinse Well

At the end of the day, rinse off your pet before heading home.  Remove salt and sand from their coat and give the insides of their ears a quick wipe to remove excess water.

Staying safe and maintaining consideration for other beach users, whether human or canine, is the winning combination for an enjoyable time at the beach.

The First Coast has miles of beaches for you and your pooch to spread out and relax. But there are new guidelines to consider during the pandemic. Beach visitors should stay at least 6 feet away (both in water and on land) from people who are not family. Face coverings should be worn when possible and are most essential at times when social distancing is difficult. And hand hygiene should be performed frequently to reduce the spread of bacteria and infectious illness, like COVID-19.

In the wake of COVID-19, it’s easy to focus on the negative. The bad news on your news feed, the tragic updates on your tv screen … it can be so hard to avoid. And when we are forced to be alone, one truth becomes painfully obvious – we belong together.

With support from our community, the Jacksonville Humane Society continues to bring pets and people together during these challenging times. From finding homes for pets in need to providing jobs to those without, to keeping pets with their families and performing lifesaving surgery – without you, none of it would be possible.

Here’s a look at some of our favorite stories from the past six weeks in honor of #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of giving in response to the needs created by COVID-19, that show the importance of finding ways to be together.

Bonnie (now Lexi)


Courtney and Amy were hired at JHS as temporary staff after the restaurant where they worked closed due to COVID-19. While working, they met and fell in love with Bonnie, a brindle pup who arrived at JHS as a stray. When the hold period of seven days went by and no one had come to claim Bonnie, Courtney and Amy knew that Bonnie belonged with them.

There was just one problem … they couldn’t come to JHS to get Bonnie on the day she was ready! JHS staff has been working in split shifts to prevent exposure and ensure that we can continue serving our community. Not wanting Bonnie to wait four more days, we devised a plan to remotely get her in the arms of her new moms by keeping with social distance protocols. Now Bonnie, called Lexi, is in a loving home and provides lots of cuddles to her new family when it is needed most.


When Esmeralda arrived at JHS on April 6th, the outcome was bleak. The long-haired black kitty had a large, gaping wound on her forelimb with a protruding bone. The senior cat was clearly in pain and did not want human contact. Our veterinary team decided that the best course of action was to amputate her leg.

After surgery, ten-year-old Esmeralda was hopping and playing like a kitten again! Her personality started to shine and her desire to be with people was evident with every head bump and gentle purr. A mom-and-daughter duo spotted her on the news and came right over to adopt! Esmeralda now belongs to a loving family.


Mya’s family came to JHS in tears late this March. This family of six had suddenly lost their home. They were able to stay temporarily with family, but dogs were not allowed in the apartment building. They wanted to surrender their sweet dog in hopes that she would have a better life.

Seeing the love between Mya and her family, we knew they belonged together. Thanks to your support, we were able to have Mya temporarily boarded for thirty days while her family secured a new home that allowed dogs. Mya was also spayed, fully vaccinated, and microchipped. When Mya was reunited with her five brothers and sisters – she could barely sit still for the picture!


When COVID-19 began, JHS put out a plea to the community for foster families. Zoey, a JHS volunteer, found herself working from home with plenty of time on her hands and decided to give fostering a try. She met Buster and knew his goofy, sweet demeanor would be a great fit for her first time fostering.

Meanwhile, the Batemans felt ready to add to their family and were searching for a dog to adopt. They did not have any other pets at home, but did need a kid-friendly pup for their 2 boys. Zoey saw the Bateman’s inquiry on Facebook for a pup and so she posted with a picture of Buster and description of his laid-back personality in the comment section. That very same day, the Batemans met Buster and fell in love! It was a match made in heaven as he instantly took to the two young boys.

They made it official – Buster was adopted and was in his new home that very day! The unconditional love from our pets, the devotion of our supporters and the resilience of our community is proof that we belong together.


Do you agree that we belong together? Show your support for our #GivingTuesdayNow campaign. 

For a limited time, gifts of $50 or more that are designated to the “Giving Tuesday Now” campaign will be matched by a generous donor. Click here to give.

#GivingTuesdayNow #WeBelongTogether #UnSelfie #GivingTuesday #JaxHumane #GenerosityBreedsJoy



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Love saves lives – do you agree?

Has your love saved the life of a dog or cat? Has the love from a pet ever saved you?

This Giving Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019, we’re asking you to show the world that you believe in love. By making a donation to JHS in support of love, you will help save …

Heroes like Justin, one of our volunteers who proudly serves in the U.S. Navy. When he was stationed in Jacksonville, Justin devoted more than 1,100 hours to walking dogs in less than a year. He quickly became our go-to guy for helping some of our more challenging dogs. The dogs’ progress with Justin helped them find homes, making him a hero to us all.

Buddies like Kaiya, one of our Pawsitive Readers. Reading to the dogs and cats at JHS helps them relax and provides quality enrichment. Kaiya is here almost every Friday to read to her best buddies – the big dogs in our adoption suites.

Companions like Harry, whose owner, John, brought him to JHS after their home was destroyed by a hurricane. John thought his only option was to surrender Harry to JHS.  Instead, we were able to provide emergency boarding for Harry through our Pet Safety Net program while John found a new home and then reunite them a few weeks later. Now, these two will always be together.

Friends like Audrey and her pals, who come to JHS and take a dog on an adventure with our Dog Day Out program. Not only is this a great way to make memories with friends, but it’s a wonderful enrichment activity for our dogs to help them find new families. Although Audrey can’t adopt a dog right now, sharing the love is lifesaving for the friends in our kennels!

Families like David’s, who chose to adopt a senior, special needs dog. David’s love for his new parents filled them with such joy that they saved another life by adopting a new doggy sister for David named Sadie. David and Sadie now have a family to share their love.

Lives like this precious little kitten, one of the more than 3,000 orphaned babies who arrived at our door in 2019. With the support of foster parents and adoptive families, JHS was able to save the lives of these neonatal cats, who are more at risk than any other animal in a shelter. In saving them, love continues to grow and save both pets and people in our community.

Love is lifesaving. If you agree, please join us on Giving Tuesday and make a gift with love!



The Jacksonville Humane Society was awarded a generous grant from Maddie’s Fund in 2019 to host eight veterinary externships with students from around the world! Thanks to Maddie’s, the students experienced hands-on learning in our veterinary services division. They completed rounds, performed surgeries and assisted in medical emergencies under the guidance of our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Stan Hill, and JHS veterinarian, Dr. Katie Green.

The externs shared these reflections about their experience at JHS:

My time at JHS was certainly well spent. My learning in this time period was exponential and I will carry the things that I did and saw with me for the rest of my career. In addition to my learning, I also made lasting connections with some fantastic mentors to help guide me in the future. I will be a better, stronger, more competent and humble veterinarian because of the time I spent at Jacksonville Humane Society.” – Kayla, University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, Class of 2020

I am originally from the Jacksonville area and am very interested in shelter medicine which is what led me to the externship opportunity at the Jacksonville Humane Society. This organization has confirmed my interest in this part of veterinary medicine. I loved seeing the way the entire veterinary team worked together and communicated. The work done here is very meaningful and you can see the passion that each employee carries with them towards their work. It was refreshing to see such an efficiently run clinic with people that seemed to genuinely enjoy the work that they do.” – Madison, Massey University New Zealand, Class of 2019

Two weeks at Jacksonville Humane Society flew by as I was enveloped in the world of shelter medicine. Each day consisted of surgeries, medical rounds, and even some emergency surprises. I fell in love with this shelter from day one and left feeling confident that this was the type of career I wanted to do. The veterinarians, Dr. Green and Dr. Hill, are both incredible doctors and teachers. They challenged me to think and work independently while also providing an abundance of information whenever I asked questions or needed clarification.” – Rainey, University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, Class of 2020

A Maddie’s veterinary extern performs a spay surgery at the Jacksonville Humane Society.

This educational opportunity was made possible #ThanksToMaddie.

A Conversation with our Honorees – Betty and Tom Petway

For the first time ever at our premier event, Toast to the Animals, we are featuring honorees Betty and Tom Petway. The Petway’s generosity and dedication the Jacksonville Humane Society has helped our organization grow and flourish.

Betty and Tom Petway’s history with the Jacksonville Humane Society started with a fieldtrip taken by their son, Ty, when he was in elementary school. Betty was chaperoning the students when a white, fluffy dog caught her eye.

“As soon as I dropped the children back at school, I drove right back to the Humane Society and adopted that dog,” she laughed.

This year’s Toast to the Animals Honorees cannot remember a time in their lives without animals. Both grew up with pets and made sure that their children knew the joy of having pets in the home, too.

Betty’s daughters loved cats and the family had many – even though Betty is allergic. The Petway family has included everything from hamsters to horses, and the current resident is Champ, an eight-year-old Springer Spaniel who loves the water.

“He may not be the brightest dog,” Tom joked. “But he is smart enough to crawl in Betty’s lap every chance he gets.”

Like many of you, the Petways believe that pets are family. As loyal friends, they were not hesitant to share why they support JHS.

“The Jacksonville Humane Society has excellent leadership, both volunteer and executive. It makes Jacksonville a better place … to have a strong humane society,” Tom remarked. “I believe that education plays a strong role, and (JHS) has programs to reach children which is what matters for the long-term.”

Betty also remembers a time when stray dogs and cats were an everyday sight. “You hardly see them now, which means that what you do at JHS is working.”

Betty and Tom hope that sharing their love of pets will inspire others, not just to adopt, but also to support the mission.

“My hope is that one day there will not be any more homeless animals,” said Betty.

Please join us is raising a glass to our honorees, the Petways!

It may not be Girl Scout Cookie Season, but this story is just as sweet. 🍪

Meet Girl Scout Troop 2286. When it came time to pick a project for their “Bronze Award”, the girls decided to support animals in their community by making “Pet Starter Packs” for dogs and cats in their communities.

The scouts spent time learning what supplies would be needed, shopping for the best prices and tie-dying the pillowcases. Each pillowcase was transformed into a bag and filled with the supplies a family would need to care for a pet during the first few days in its new home.

The bags had items such as dog/cat food, bowls, toys, litter boxes and scoops, and dog/cat treats. Labels were also attached so we could easily identify which bags were for dogs vs. cats.


Girl Scout Troop 2286 with JHS team member Allie Plummer.
Not only will this project benefit families and pets in our town, but the girls learned many valuable lessons. They researched supplies needed to care for pets, comparison shopped, designed a bag that serves dual purposes as a pillowcase, and even learned how to tie-dye! Perhaps the biggest lesson of all was the joy that comes from helping others.

The project also has another layer – sustainability. According to Troop Leader Débora McCarty, “We are providing a simple flyer to be posted on the Jax Humane Society’s counter, so all who come can see how easy it is to put a bag together. We are also spreading the word on social media.”

Each bag had a label for “dog” or “cat” and supplies inside.
As a local, independent 501c3 non-profit, the Jacksonville Humane Society relies on donations to support our mission. Donations come in all shapes and sizes – some even come in tie-dyed pillowcases. We are delighted that these young ladies chose to support keeping pets and people together. As we say … generosity breeds joy!

If you would like to conduct a similar project, here are the steps to take:

  1. Answer the following questions – how do you care for a dog or cat? what supplies are needed?
  2. Decide how you will purchase the necessary items. Shop around!
  3. Purchase pillowcases and tie-dye.
  4. Make a list of items to go in each bag. Label as dog or cat.
  5. Select an animal shelter in your area and deliver!

More Info:

Find other fun ideas on the JHS Pinterest:

In the fall of 2018, Maddie’s Fund announced a new contest for shelters. Titled the “Get ’em Home Challenge”, the idea was for each shelter to come up with the most unique and creative tools to find homes for pets who had been in the shelter for 30 days or more. The contest ran from October 1st to December 31st, with 109 shelters and rescues participating from across the country.

Organizations could compete in three different categories:

At the end of the challenge, and amazing 4,974 long-stay dogs and 11,029 cats in shelters throughout the U.S. found homes. At JHS, we had 831 cat and 83 dogs with LOS 30 days+ adopted during the challenge.

JHS is proud to announce that we were awarded the top prize in the Most Creative Program Overall! We also won a $10,000 award from Maddie’s to help us continue our lifesaving work in our community.


The program we developed for the Get Em Home Challenge was one that we still continue and can be replicated in any shelter. It’s called the “Long Stay Task Force” (or LSTF) and is a system of checks and balances to ensure that no animal slips through the cracks. The LSTF is comprised of members of all shelter departments – adoptions, behavior, medical, volunteer, foster, and development.

When a dog or cat reaches 30 days in the shelter, the LSTF protocol begins. This can include updating the website picture or profile, signing up a dog for our “dog day out” program, trying a foster home, providing a veterinary exam, creating a special plan with volunteer support … you name it, we’ll try it! We recently put a cat in a stroller for some extra enrichment and exposure on Facebook. (And – he loved it!)



The LSTF also plans special adoption events. In the fall of 2018, you may remember our JHS Homecoming, JHS Bachelor and Jacksonville’s Silent Night. These events help us to feature our long-stay pets while marketing adoption for all dogs and cats in the building. They are also so much fun!



With this award comes a $10,000 prize from Maddie’s Fund. JHS is elated for this support that will help us provide compassionate care for more than 8,000 animals in 2019 – and get ’em home, thanks to Maddie!


#getemhome2018 #getemhomechallenge #thankstomaddie #jaxhumane #adoptjaxpets #generositybreedsjoy

Are you ready for the story of the best good boy? Meet Patrick! Sweet Patrick was found after two good Samaritans got reports that a dog was hit by a car and ran into the woods – no one could locate him. After a long search, the two kind citizens finally found him. He was skinny, weak and unable to move. They carried him to safety and brought him to JHS.

Patrick on the day he was found by the two kind citizens.

Patrick on the day he was found.

This is Patrick on his ride to safety after being found in the woods with a pelvic fracture and suffering from severe dehydration.


Our veterinary team gave him immediate care and our staff diligently watched over him until he was, once again, out of the woods. He slowly started to come out of his shell and we discovered that he loved to play with toys! After a few weeks, thanks to your donations, Patrick made great improvements. He was finally able to stand up for a bath and then he took his first real walk outside without any help! Soon, he was ready for his surgery and to find a new home. 


Patrick on his first walk without help from a staff member!

Patrick after his bath!


A loving family came along looking for a dog who could be a best friend to their children and dog at home. Patrick fit the bill! Patrick now has a mom and dad, two little humans to love him AND an amazing doggy sister to play with all day. He is one happy pup! 


Patrick on his adoption day! See ya later, buddy!


From lost in the woods to a beloved family dog, Patrick’s second chance was made possible thanks to YOU! Your loving donations made his journey possible – AND also helped the more than 7,000 other pets on their own journeys who come to JHS every year.

To help us provide second chances to pets like Patrick, make a gift today. 

generosity breeds joy.

Other links you might enjoy:

Let’s face it – the internet has produced many celebrities over the last decade, but none quite as fabulous and furry as THE CAT! Whether they’re dominating Instagram or ruling YouTube, these feline powerhouses are wiggling their way into hearts all over the world.

But wait — where do all these cats come from?

All cats had a humble beginning as a kitten, perhaps one of many in a litter born to an unfixed female cat. And while the term “kitten season” sounds super cute – in reality, it can be a tough time for animal shelters. Kitten season is the time of year  when kittens are born by the thousands to unfixed cats – basically warm weather. Don’t forget, this is the Sunshine State! Last year, JHS took in over 3,000 underage kittens.

So how do these kittens go from orphans in the shelter to social media super stars?

With help from foster parents!

Dames Point the kitten with his foster mom, Meghan.

Foster parents are lifesaving volunteers who take a litter of kittens into their home and care for them until they are old enough to be spayed/neutered and adopted. Foster parents provide the necessary TLC to help kittens thrive and the good news is that ANYONE can foster kittens.

Work a 9-5 job? Awesome! You can foster kittens who are eating on their own, around 6-8 weeks of age. You’ll have a blast watching them wrestle and play with each other while packing on the ounces they need to hit the two pound mark.

Work at home, between jobs or retired? Purrfect! We need folks like you to help our kittens 5 weeks and under. Whether they are still eating from a bottle or being weaned onto solid foods, you’ll play an important role in helping these little ones thrive.

Don’t know where to start? No worries! Everyone has been in your shoes. Try starting your foster journey with a mom and babies. Your job will be to care for the mother cat, provide her with a safe space and keep her happy. She will do the rest!

Love kittens, but can’t foster? No worries – you can STILL help by sending in supplies from our Kitten Wish List.

Ready to start? Complete the JHS Foster Parent profile and our staff will reach out to you with the next steps.

Still not sure? Here’s a video from the world’s most famous kitten foster, Kitten Lady!

So – are you ready to join our lifesaving team of foster parents? The kittens hope to see you soon!


You Might Also Like:

Cat to Be Kitten Me – What is Kitten Season?

Found a Litter of Kittens – What to Do in Jacksonville!

Do and Donts When You Find Kittens

Spay and Neuter Programs for Community Feral Cats in Jacksonville

Who doesn’t love a good donation drive? There’s nothing better than going to the store and shopping for someone other than yourself – especially when it’s puppies and kittens! Animal shelters have a unique set of needs and can always use donations.

Most shelters will have  a list of items that they need and accept. At JHS, we even have an Amazon wish list that makes donating even easier.  Why not host a donation drive at your school or office? Or just donate a few items on your own. They will always be put to good use.

Be sure to check with individual shelters to see if they have specific requests, but here’s a list of 10 items you probably never thought to donate to an animal shelter:

#1 Gloves – Whether it’s rubber gloves or latex gloves, protecting your hands and reducing the spread of germs is something that every animal center takes seriously. At JHS, we always need latex, non-powder gloves in all sizes.


#2 Ziploc Bags – Gallon, quart or sandwich sizes, ziploc bags can be used to send home food, litter and medication with foster parents. Next time you see a BOGO sale, throw in an extra box or two for the animals!


#3 Leashes – While many shelters have a specific leash used by employees and volunteers, new or gently used leashes can be used to help dogs who come in without a leash, families who need supplies, or dogs who go on sleepovers with potential adopters. At JHS, we can only accept cloth leashes with clips – we cannot use retractable leashes.


#4 Poop Bags & Trash Bags – You can’t live without ’em! Whether it’s cleaning up kennels or after dogs on walks, poop bags and trash bags are essential. At JHS, we always scoop the poop!


#5 Dish Soap – For any animal, a flea infestation can be deadly. However, many flea treatments and shampoos are too dangerous for infant, neo-natal dogs and cats. Dish soap, a non-concentrated variety without lotion, like Dawn, is a great alternative to flea shampoos. It stuns the fleas and makes it easy to remove them in a safe way.


#6 Treats – Some animal shelters have a preference, but you really can’t go wrong with moist treats. They are easy to break into smaller pieces and have a smelly scent that entices dogs! Our favorites at JHS include Pup-Peroni and Beggin’ Strips from Purina. We also break them into tiny pieces, mix with Peanut Butter and freeze the mixture inside Kong toys for dogs to enjoy each day.


#7 Office Supplies – Just like any other office, animal shelters use the basics like 8.5 x 11 copy paper, pens, staples, sticky notes and tape! While everyone has specifics, you probably can’t go wrong with copy paper and pens. Oh – and at JHS we go through a lot of glue sticks! Remember, donating these supplies that are less-likely-to-be-given can make a difference, too!


#8 Q-Tips and Cotton Balls – Most animal shelters will have a veterinary clinic, whether for the public or just for animals in the shelter. Q-Tips and cotton balls are common items used for veterinary practice and your shelter can put them to good use.


#9 Gift Cards – Just like the rest of us, animal shelters love gift cards. Be strategic when you purchase them and consider which stores are nearby. Whether it’s a store like Petco or PetsMart or a retailer like WalMart or Sams Club, there is going to be something for every shelter in the aisles. When in doubt – an Amazon gift card makes a great gift, too!


#10 Towels – Cleaning out your linen closet? Need an excuse to get a new set of bath towels? While not all bedding can be donated to animals shelters, towels of all sizes can be put to use. Be sure to wash them first and then drop them off to help dogs and cats in need.


And don’t forget – animals in need can always use your time and talent. Perhaps you can’t adopt a new pet or make a large donation. That’s okay! Your generosity is still needed. Volunteering and fostering are two excellent ways to help animals with the gift of time. No time? No problem? Consider raising funds with your business or even having a Facebook fundraiser on your birthday. There is never a gift that won’t make a difference.

At the Jacksonville Humane Society, we are so grateful for our generous community. They never cease to amaze us with their giving spirit. Here a few helpful links to check when donating supplies to our organization: