UCF student volunteers spent Saturday morning at an animal sanctuary clearing the area where the disabled animals live.
A bus took a group of 12 students from UCF to DeLand to help at the Journey’s End Animal Sanctuary. Journey’s End Sanctuary is a no-kill final home for nearly 200 animals including dogs, cats, horses, goats, sheep and pigs all of which have a significant disability and are homeless.
Saturday at 9 a.m. students began helping in raking and removing any type of debris from the floor, for the animals who require wheels to move, as well as general maintenance.
Logan Mahan, animal awareness director and a sophomore economics major, said this is UCF’s second collaboration with the sanctuary this semester.
“It’s a great experience bringing students from different majors and interests for a good cause,” Mahan said. “I just love animals and giving back to the community.”
Shannon Sargent, animal caretaker, said the sanctuary first opened in 1976 and is a 501C3 non-profit organization fully funded by donations. The intake criteria for the shelter is for animals who are currently homeless and have a disability or chronic illness. The sanctuary receives nearly 80 calls per week but typically admits one animal per 6 months.
Kelly Purty, animal caretaker, said animals have been brought in from across the United States and last year a cat was flown in from Kuwait.
Florence Thout, the 91-year-old owner of the sanctuary, said the reason they accept so few animals in comparison to how many requests they get is because of the amount of medical care the animals require.
The animals require trips to Jacksonville twice a month for specialized doctors and or medication.
“When the animals come in, they get top of the line medical care for the rest of their lives,” Thout said.
The sanctuary currently has six staff members and over 20 volunteers, some working 40-50 hours a week. The sanctuary has also hosted different groups, such as mentally challenged children, adults and others.
“We try to take in animals that really aren’t wanted and give them a forever home,” Purty said. “A lot of people can’t afford the vet bills of their handicapped pets or don’t have time for their needs, and euthanasia becomes a recommendation. So, we try to take in those animals and give them love and the best care possible and let them live out their lives as happy as they can.”
Thout said in the 43 years of owning the sanctuary her favorite aspect is the process of an animal becoming acquainted with their new home.
“My favorite aspect is seeing the animals come in and eventually becoming a part of the family and the animals kind of melt into each other,” Thuot said.