Meet the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando, one of the region’s oldest and largest nonprofit animal welfare agencies serving Orange, Seminole, Osceola, and parts of Brevard, Lake and Volusia counties.
Founded in 1937 as the Orlando Humane Society, the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando has blossomed into a community staple that has allowed approximately 60,000 people to find their forever pet, and currently operates with 55 employees and around 400 volunteers.
Late last year, in September, a fire claimed the Alliance’s animal shelter and clinic on Conroy Road. Six months later, Executive Director Stephen Bardy says that the Alliance is looking brightly toward the future.
“[It’s] what we consider taking a really bad batch of lemons and making lemonade out of it,” Bardy says. “It is an event that will stay with the staff and volunteers for a long, long time. And I think each day provides us an opportunity to move forward.”
Bardy says the Alliance has exciting developments in store, such as moving into their new 26,000 facility that will break ground this fall.
While the fire left devastation in its wake, Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando shifted gears fast. Animals and staff were transferred to the Sanford location where operations currently take place. In terms of community impact, Bardy says there was an outpouring of love and support after the fire including enough donations to fill three warehouses.
“We’re fortunate that Orlando is such a robust shelter adopting community. It is part of the fabric of the DNA of the community,” Bardy says. “Lots of residents really believe in getting their pets from a shelter and rescuing and rehoming in that way. We really felt the love and support from the Greater Orlando community in ways that are really hard to describe. But they definitely lifted the spirits of our staff and our volunteers.”
22-year-old Micki Krueger says the Alliance gave her several new additions to her family.
Having moved from Tampa a year ago, Krueger was in search of a young, mild-tempered cat to keep her company and get along with her other cat, Shadow. It was then that she visited Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando and met S’mores, a brown tabby just over a year old.
“[S’mores] was the perfect match for what we were looking for,” Kruger says.
Living only a few minutes from the Alliance, Krueger says an unexpected nightmare happened the day the fire broke out.
“With living so close to that location, I could hear all of the sirens and I just figured, you know, it was another night in Orlando. There’s always sirens going off,” Krueger says. “I would have never thought that it was at Alliance and especially hearing that the side that was most impacted by the fire was the cat side was really hard.”
Krueger made several donations in the weeks that followed to support the Alliance and eventually, she chose to adopt a second cat from them. She found the perfect cat in an orange tabby named Pabu.
“We wanted to support the pet Alliance in any way possible, Krueger says.”
As for the Alliance, Bardy says the support is still ongoing, citing the largest gala in November and largest Paws in the Park turnout in February. He says he will never forget the animals lost to the flames in September.
“It’s kind of a balance of acknowledging the pain and the tragedy with ‘How are we going to honor them and do better and move forward and continue our progressive work?,” says Bardy.
Adopt, volunteer or donate by visiting petallianceorlando.org.