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Animal rescue expands with new 2.5-acre facility

Ashley Morales

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FLUFF Animal Rescue is unveiling a new 2.5-acre facility at at 7400 62nd Terrace in Pinellas Park. Photos: Ashley Morales.

FLUFF Animal Rescue, a foster-based community rescue organization, is unveiling a new 2.5-acre facility in Pinellas Park. 

The expanded facility, located at 7400 62nd Terrace, will house rescue operations, a resource center and a pet maternity ward. The new space has also allowed the rescue to double the size of its summer camp program, expanding FLUFF’s educational outreach to children in the community.

FLUFF Animal Rescue focuses on rescuing dogs slated for euthanasia at local shelters, which volunteers say are often pregnant. FLUFF currently has about 50 puppies at its new facility in Pinellas Park.

The July 9 grand opening marks a significant milestone for the rescue, which has focused on saving animal lives and addressing overpopulation issues since its founding in 2016 by Tampa native Kimmy Chandler. Chandler’s journey began with fostering animals and quickly evolved from a personal passion project into a 501(c)(3) public charity.

“It’s a matter of necessity,” Chandler said. “When I see a need, I can’t turn a blind eye. That’s what happened, and post-Covid, the rescues are needed now more than ever. Our first priority is getting the dogs that are on euthanasia lists because there’s no space at the shelter. We firmly believe no dog should ever be ‘out of time.’”

FLUFF Animal Rescue started with four kennels in the back of a retail space in Seminole to now has nearly 200 animals under its care, including about 50 puppies rescued from local shelters. Chandler estimates the entire buildout of its new campus to cost about $3 million, including future plans to add a vet clinic.

“We did get an estimate and we have all of our equipment lined up that would absolutely facilitate us being able to do the spay and neuter clinic, have a holding room, an anesthesia room and a laboratory. So we have the full room setup and the design all ready to go, but it’s another $300,000.”

The renovations at FLUFF’s new campus include brand-new kennels (left) and three pet maternity wards with heated floors.

The acronym FLUFF stands for “From Lonely and Unloved to Forever Family,” encapsulating the organization’s mission to provide loving homes for animals in need. According to FLUFF’s website, from 2016 to 2023, the organization successfully rescued 2,450 animals. So far this year, FLUFF has saved 150 animals and has set a goal of rescuing 1,000 by year’s end.

Chandler says the average time an animal spends in their care is about 18 days – less than a month from initial rescue to adoption or foster. However, some rescue pets require specialized medical care, diets and training, which can cost upwards of $3,000 per dog or cat.

Georgia Grace Gorman, 10, volunteers with her family regularly at FLUFF Animal Rescue.

FLUFF is opening its new facility to enhance the rescue’s ability to care for animals and engage with the public on animal welfare issues. Chandler said that as the rescue continues to grow exponentially, their biggest need is more volunteers.

“It’s all hands on deck, honestly,” Chandler said. “I think what we need more than anything are people who are willing to pour their talents and their time into this. We need volunteers to help us take care of the laundry and help with the dishes because our staff is doing all of that right now. So our biggest need right now is hands, and I know there’s a ton of people out there willing to help.”

The grand opening event (Tuesday, July 9, at 12 p.m.) will offer the public an opportunity to tour the new campus and learn more about FLUFF’s mission and programs. 

1 Comment

1 Comment

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    Barb Butler

    July 10, 2024at10:30 am

    Just dogs?

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