Clear the Shelters: Today’s the Day to Find a New Pet

on Aug19

19 August 2017 | 7:16 pm

Tonia Sewell thought that she and her boyfriend would keep the pointer-mix puppy for just five days, until Saturday’s Clear the Shelters adoption drive at the Humane Society of Greater Miami.

But instead of giving up the puppy, they decided to keep it. Call it a foster fail.

“The biggest successful foster fail,” Sewell, of Miami Beach, said over the hubbub at the Humane Society Saturday morning.


Clear the Shelters, the third annual pet adoption drive sponsored by the NBC- and Telemundo-owned television stations, culminates today with more than 900 shelters participating in 76 communities across the country. Since this year’s event was launched in the last month more than 43,000 animals have found homes.

To encourage families to find a new pet, whether puppies, older cats, rabbits or iguanas, all of the participating animal shelters and rescue organizations are reducing or waiving adoption fees.

When the day began, Sissi, a grey-furred cat with long whiskers, was available for adoption at the Fairfax County Animal Shelter in Fairfax, Virginia. She is super fluffy and a little shy.

At the New Hampshire SPCA in Stratham, Spike needed a new family after his owner died.

And at Muttville, a senior dog rescue in San Francisco, a 12-year-old bubbly former stray named Sierra was ready for a permanent home.

At the Humane Society of Greater Miami, which saw almost 100 adoptions during last year’s event, there was a line outside before the shelter opened Saturday morning. An hour in, about 100 people had come through looking for a pet.

“We’re hoping to break last year’s record for sure,” said Toni Diaz, the associate director of development.

Sewell and her boyfriend, Michael Yimer, had already fostered some kittens and thought she would take a break when the Humane Society called about the puppy, which looks like a Jack Russell Terrier. Her boyfriend had always wanted a dog, she said.

“It was meant to be,” she said. “We fostered him for a week. He got along with our cats and that was it.”

The couple renamed the dog Viper after a character in one of Yimer’s favorite movies, “Top Gun.” 

The need remains great. The number of animals entering shelters each year is about 6.5 million, 3.3 million dogs and 3.2 million cats, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Though the number has declined from about 7.2 million in 2011, with the biggest drop in the number dogs, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized each year.

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On the happier side, about 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted annually and another 710,000 are returned to their owners.

In the Washington D.C. area, dogs, cats, a guinea pig and a sun conure or parakeet were adopted in the first hours of the adoption drive. Marcel Green of Gaithersburg, Maryland, lined up early — at 4 a.m. outside the Humane Rescue Alliance — to find a dog for his mother. More than six hours later he and his father, Bruce, were headed home with a 2-month-old chocolate colored puppy.

On the opposite side of the dog-cat divide was Raymond White, from Washington, D.C., who spotted a gray-and-white cat while watching the local NBC station.

“They said come and adopt a cat, and I always wanted one,” he said.

White named his cat “Blessed.”

At the Collin County Animal Services shelter in McKinney, Texas, more than 150 cats and dogs were available for adoption. 

Clear the Shelters began in Texas in 2014 as a partnership among the NBC and Telemundo stations in Dallas-Fort Worth and dozens of North Texas animal shelters. More than 2,200 homeless animals were adopted that first year, the most in a single day in North Texas.

A year later the number jumped to nearly 20,000 as the adoption drive went national, with more than 400 shelters taking part across the country. Last year, as the event was extended over a month, 53,000 pets were adopted from 680 shelters, 13 of which were emptied.

Published 6 hours ago | Updated 2 minutes ago

More than 53,000 pets were adopted through the 2016 Clear the Shelters campaign, a nationwide push to place deserving animals in forever homes. Join the conversation on social media using #ClearTheShelters.

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