Jacksonville Humane Society has a history of serving the local community that dates all the way back to 1885, when the organization was first formed as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
This includes the shelter’s transition from open-admission to limited admission, allowing them to become a no-kill shelter in 2005 and contributing to the city gaining no-kill status in 2014.
But perhaps the most critical juncture of the organization’s lengthy history came in 2007, when their main facility along Beach Boulevard burned to the ground.
JHS had acquired their twelve-acre stretch of land along Beach Boulevard back in 1920, when a former president of the organization donated it. They put it to use shortly thereafter, and it served as the society’s main facility.
In April 2007, much of that facility was destroyed in a large fire. Jacksonville Fire Rescue Station 28 responded, and four of its firefighters were injured as they attempted to rescue as many of the animals as possible.
Around 80 animals were saved thanks to the efforts of Station 28. All of the rescued animals were adopted, with one lucky dog being taken in by Station 28.
Tragically, 86 animals died in the fire, unable to be saved after the main building’s roof collapsed. The animals were buried on the property in the organization’s cemetery.
Volunteers and staff scrambled to get the shelter back to a functional level within weeks. Temporary modular housing and offices were set up as the makeshift campus gradually expanded back to normal capacity within months of the fire.
In 2015, efforts began to fund a new, permanent building to house all of the organization’s activities under one roof.
What emerged from these efforts was a 40,000-square-foot, heavily fire-proofed campus building, which was constructed at a cost of around $15 million and opened in November 2017.
The new facility is spacious and has climate-controlled living space for the animals, among several animal-centric upgrades.
They never figured out what caused the 2007 fire. But just over a decade later, Jacksonville Humane Society is thriving and looking forward to a bright future.