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‘Instant Love’: Shelters Cleared as Pets Find Forever Homes

Clear the Shelters

Teddy, a catahoula leopard dog mix, was originally taken in at the Morris Animal Refuge in Philadelphia back in January. And after a few failed adoptions, the hearing impaired dog was returned in June and sat at the shelter waiting for the perfect family who would be patient enough to fullfil his needs. 

Emmy Homan, the shelter’s development manager, told NBC Teddy is a sweet dog and eager to learn, she just needed extra training and attention.  

Thanks to social media, a Philadelphia family came across Teddy’s story on Twitter and knew they found the perfect pet for their family. That’s because their daughter is also Deaf. On Saturday, they stopped by the shelter during its Clear the Shelters event to meet their new four-legged family member. 

Teddy’s new family said they look forward to teaching their new furry family member sign language.

Clear the Shelters, the fifth annual pet adoption drive sponsored by NBC and Telemundo stations, culminated Saturday with more than 2,000 shelters participating in dozens of communities across the country.

Animals lovers nationwide lined up early for a chance to find the purrfect pet to take home.

At the New Hampshire Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, all adoptable dogs found new homes within hours of opening its doors, NBC Boston reported.  

One of those lucky dogs was Irie, a 5-year-old mix-breed that was adopted by Chandler Solsky, of Rochester.

“I fell in love right away. We came a couple of days ago and we saw her and we had to come back and get her,” Solsky said.

And in Connecticut, the North Haven Animal Control cleared its shelters on Saturday, including finding a home for two senior cats that became homeless two months ago after their owner died. 

“We were hopeful to get them adopted together, but was really shocked when a family walked in today and wanted to make them part of their family,” Assistant Animal Control Officer Chrystal Tashaba told NBC, noting that senior pets are typically overlooked. “So, to get them both in the same home made it all worth it.”  

And they weren’t the only feline sisters to get adopted together. Colleen and Collette, both one-year-old kittens, were adopted from PAWS Chicago during Clear the Shelters.

Julia Poukatch, the shelter’s communications associate, told NBC that the two kittens have been at the shelter since January and were always very reserved and fearful, making it hard for them to connect with potential adopters. Enter Chicago residents Jaycee and Marisa, who have had prior experience with fearful cats and were more than willing to give the girls the time they need to come out of their shell. Colleen and Collete not only have new homes, but also each other to help them adjust to their new life. 

Since this year’s event was launched on July 27, more than 90,000 pets have been adopted. To encourage families to find a new pet, many of the participating animal shelters and rescue organizations reduced or waived adoption fees.

At the Austin Humane Society, in Austin, Texas, shelter manager Sarah Hammel was hoping that Lamb, a 5-year-old Pit bull and the shelter’s longest resident, would finally get his forever home. Hammel told NBC that Lamb was transferred to the shelter back in 2017 when flood waters from hurricane Harvey forced the evacuations of local shelter pets, and he’s been “in and out of the [Austin Humane Society] due to a lot of bad luck and through no fault of his own.” On Saturday, Reyna Almaguer, of Austin, walked into the shelter and instantly fell in love with Lamb. The feeling was mutual. 

“It was instant love,” Hammel said.

King, a 5-year-old pit mix, was surrendered by its owner last month and arrived at the NYC Animal Control Center on July 24. But, “the biggest wiggler in the shelter” shimmied his way into the heart of a new pet parent on Saturday. King received a royal goodbye as he left the Brooklyn shelter. 

Studies show that pet ownership provides a number of health benefits. A furry companion has the ability to comfort humans healing from loss or other trauma. For two sisters in Washington, D.C., still grieving from the loss of their Pit bull who died recently of cancer, finding the purrfect pet almost seemed heaven-sent.

Deirdre and Kirsten Wright adopted Sally from the D.C. Humane Rescue Alliance after another family had earlier in the day adopted her, but then returned her 15 minutes later because the 2-year-old Pit bull mix didn’t get along with another dog they already had. The sisters from Alexandria, Virginia, had fallen in love in Sally days earlier but thought they missed out on getting her first. When they found out Sally was back on the market, Deirdre Wright told NBC Washington that their recently deceased Pit bull, who was fittingly named Angel, must have intervened.

“I think that [Angel] didn’t want me to be sad. And she just wanted me to like, help another dog,” Deirdre Wright said through tears. 

Meanwhile, in South Florida, Herbert, an 8-year-old American Staffordshire who has been at the shelter for more than a year, finally got his forever home. New pet owner Dana Powmesamy told NBC Miami she was excited to welcome Herbert to her family.

“He’s adorable, my son loved him right off the bat,” Powmesamy said. “I think we’re all just gonna love having him.”

Although dogs and cats were by far the most common pets to be adopted, even some feathery animals were rescued on Saturday. Bob, a 4 1/2-month-old White Crested Black Polish rooster was adopted from the Stonington-Animal Rescue Project in Connecticut. “Bob the Rooster,” as he’s called, is headed to Covernty, Rhode Island, where he will join seven hens in his new home. 

And Bob wasn’t the only uncommon pet adopted on Clear the Shelters day. Rabbits and guinea pigs in New England also found their forever homes. 

Shelters in Florida, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina, Missouri, New York and Kansas all reported clearing their kennels and finding homes for pets in need.

“We shot for the moon and landed among the stars,” the Helping Hands Humane Society of Topeka, Kansas, wrote in a Facebook post announcing their shelter had been cleared.

Still, 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.

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

Clear the Shelters began in North 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 that 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, more than 100,000 pets were adopted from over 1,200 shelters.

During Clear The Shelters 2018, pets of all types found their forever home, including “Bailey” a long-haired Chihuahua-mix puppy from Orange County, California, who was adopted by a veteran and his family. In New Hampshire, “Baby,” a 15-year old senior cat was adopted after being a hospice resident at a Massachusetts shelter. One year later, Baby is off her medications and showers her new family with unconditional love. In Texas, a yellow Labrador named “Pepperjack” who found wandering the streets of Texas City, spent weeks at the Galveston County animal shelter before a Sante Fe family adopted him during Clear the Shelters. One year later, the once stray who was renamed “Jake,” is living his best life enjoying the great outdoors of the family’s lake property and helping his new parents take care of their horses.

“The love that these dogs give you is worth it,” Bailey’s owner Don Winderman said. “All they need is love. And really, if people gave out more love than hate this country would be a lot better — and the whole world would be better.”

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Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Clear The Shelters

Shelters near you


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - Thousands of pets are looking for their forever homes and News Channel 8 is On Your Side helping to make that happen in the Tampa Bay area.

We are teaming up with hundreds of shelters across the country to host Clear the Shelters, a nationwide pet adoption drive on Saturday, August 17, 2019, to help find loving homes for animals in need.

More than 150,000 pets found their forever homes since 2015.

Now is the time for shelters to register by completing the online application located here. Organizations interested in participating in Clear the Shelters must complete the Commitment Registration form to ensure proper verification of all interested participants.

When registering, please make sure you select the TAMPA-ST.PETERSBURG-SARASOTA, FL region. This will put your shelter on our CLEAR THE SHELTERS online map, driving families to your shelter. 

Here are the local shelters that are offering no-cost or reduced-fee adoptions for this event:

  1. Citrus County Animal Services - 4030 S. Airport Rd, Inverness
  2. Humane Society of Polk County - 3195 Dundee Road Winter, Haven
  3. Barking Out Loud Rescue, Inc - 300 N Lake Drive, Lorida
  4. Paw Warriors, Inc. - 355 Spring Time Street, Spring Hill
  5. SPCA Florida - 5850 Brannen Rd S, Lakeland
  6. Friends of Strays Animal Shelter - 2911 47th Avenue North, St. Petersburg
  7. Pinellas County Animal Services - 12450 Ulmerton Road, Largo
  8. SPCA of Hernando County - 9075 Grant St, Brooksville
  9. Humane Society of Tampa Bay - 3607 N Armenia Avenue, Tampa
  10. SPCA Tampa Bay - 9099 130th Ave North, Largo
  11. Highlands County Sheriffs Animal Services - 7300 Haywood Taylor Blvd, Sebring
  12. St. Francis Animal Rescue - 1925 S. Tamiami Trail, Venice
  13. FLUFF Animal Rescue - 11220 Park Blvd N, Seminole
  14. Manatee County Animal Services: Palmetto Shelter - 305 25th St W, Palmetto
  15. Manatee County Cat Town - 216 6th Ave E, Bradenton
  16. Pasco County Animal Services - 19640 Dogpatch Lane, Land O'Lakes
  17. St. Francis Society, Inc. - Pet Smart - 12835 Citrus Plaza Dr, Tampa
  18. The Humane Society of the Nature Coast - 7200 Mobley Road, Brooksville
  19. Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center - 440 N. Falkenburg Road, Tampa
  20. Humane Society of Manatee County - 2515 14th Street W, Bradenton
  21. Save Our Strays Inc. Safety Harbor, FL - 3223 San Jose Street, Clearwater
  22. Polk County Sheriff's Office Animal Control Section - 7115 De Castro Rd, Winter Haven
  23. Hernando County Animal Services - 19450 Oliver St., Brooksville
  24. Bishop Animal Shelter SPCA of Manatee County, FL - 5718 21st Ave W, Bradenton
  25. Humane Society of Pinellas, 3040 State Road 590, Clearwater
  26. Rescue Cats of Florida, 211 West Alexander Street, Plant City
  27. Precious Paws Rescue, 5164 S. Florida Avenue (Route 41), Inverness
  28. Hands Helping Paws Rescue, 53 West Bay Boulevard South, Lake Wales
  29. Cat Kids Rescue, 10500 Ulmerton Road, Suite 308, Largo
  30. Suncoast Animal League, 1030 Pennsylvania Ave., Palm Harbor
  31. Cat Haven Rescue of Tampa-Pasco County, 1231 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Wesley Chapel
  32. Cat Haven Rescue of Pasco County, 8529 Little Road, New Port Richey
  33. Suncoast Humane Society, 6781 San Casa Drive, Englewood
  34. Rebels Rescue, 11665 W Hillsborough Ave., Tampa
  35. Humane Society at Lakewood Ranch, 26920 Gopher Hill Road, Myakka city
  36. Cat Crusaders, Inc, 6248 Commerce Palms Drive, Tampa
  37. SPCA Suncoast, 7734 Congress Street, New Port Richey
  38. Rescue Cats of Florida, 3313 Lithia Pinecrest Road, Valrico
  39. Countless Cats Rescue Inc., 3139 Duane Avenue, Oldsmar
  40. Cat Call Inc, Pet Smart 1051 W Brandon Blvd, Brandon
  41. Cat Call Inc, 11331 Causeway Blvd, Brandon

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