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Shelter Urges Adopters Not to Forget Pets With Special Needs

Clear the Shelters
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When it comes to rescuing animals from a shelter, there are some pets that are often overlooked — those with special needs.

Trainers at a Chicago shelter say long-term dogs and cats often go unnoticed by many who come for the animals’ younger, more typical counterparts.

Joan Harris, the director of Paws Chicago’s Canine Behavior and Training, said adopters shouldn’t pass on long-term animals or those with special needs without giving them a chance.

“If you look at the specific environment, that’s why sometimes it takes a little bit longer for these dogs to get adopted, becuase we’re looking for that specific environment,” she said. 

Mattie, a lovable and energetic pit-lab mix who was in need of extra attention, sat at Paws Chicago for almost a year before she found a home willing to take her in.

It was all because a volunteer at the shelter dressed Mattie up in a tutu and walked her around Chicago. The outfit quickly gained attention on social media.

“We started walking up and down Armitage and through the streets of Chicago wearing her tutu,” said volunteer Mark Lucas. “And suddenly people who would step aside because ‘Let that big dog through’ were like ‘Oh my God she’s so cute. Can I say hello?’ And she was getting posted and everybody started talking about Mattie and this dog that was going through Chicago with her tutu and that kind of got the ball rolling.” 

That’s when Emma Turbyville came along and adopted Mattie.

“She’s just a sweetheart, really,” Turbyville said.

Lucas urges people to “come in with a clean slate.”

“Walk into the shelter and maybe ask about who is your longest-term guest and start there, because the shelter will have a wealth of knowledge about that animal,” he said.

For more information on Chicago-area shelters participating in NBC and Telemundo owned stations’ Clear The Shelters pet adoption campaign, click here

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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 from Aug. 1 through Aug. 31, featuring virtual pet adoptions to make it easy for people to donate online to participating shelters and rescues.

More than 150,000 pets found their forever homes since 2015 and we want to add to the number.

Find a shelter near you:

  • Pasco County Animal Services, 19640 Dogpatch Lane, Land O'Lakes
  • Paw Warriors, Inc., 355 Spring Time Street, Spring Hill
  • Pinellas County Animal Services, 12450 Ulmerton Road, Largo
  • Cat Haven Rescue, Inc, 1231 Bruce B. Downs Blvd, Wesley Chapel
  • Cat Haven Rescue, Inc - Pasco, 8529 Little Road, New Port Richey
  • SPCA Tampa Bay, 9099 130th Ave N, Largo
  • Bishop Animal Shelter SPCA of Manatee County, 5718 21st Ave West, Bradenton
  • Hernando County Animal Services, 19450 Oliver Street, Brooksville
  • SPCA Florida, 5850 Brannen Rd S, Lakeland
  • Barking Out Loud Rescues, Inc, 300 N Lake Drive, Lorida
  • Precious Paws Rescue, Inc., Citrus County Florida, 5164 S. Florida Avenue, Inverness
  • Humane Society of Pinellas, 3040 State Road 590, Clearwater
  • Hernando County SPCA, 9075 Grant St, Brooksville
  • St Francis Society, PO Box 261614, Tampa
  • Humane Society of Tampa Bay, 3607 N Armenia Avenue, Tampa
  • Rebels Rescue, Petco 136 S. West shore Blvd, Tampa
  • SPCA Suncoast, 7734 Congress Street, New Port Richey
  • Friends of Strays Animal Shelter, 2911 47th Avenue North, St. Petersburg
  • Florida English Bulldog Rescue, P.O. Box 754, Odessa
  • The Humane Society of Polk County, Inc, 3195 Dundee Rd, Winter Haven
  • The Humane Society of Sarasota County, 2331 15th Street, Sarasota
  • Hands Helping Paws Rescue Inc., 53 W Bay Blvd S, Lake Wales
  • Humane Society of Manatee County, 2515 14th Avenue W, Bradenton
  • Highlands County Sheriffs Animal Services, 7300 Haywood Taylor Blvd, Sebring
  • Manatee County Animal Services, 305 25th St W, Palmetto
  • SPCA Suncoast, 7734 Congress Street, New Port Richey
  • Citrus County Animal Services, 4030 S. Airport Rd, Inverness
  • St Francis Society, PO Box 261614, Tampa
  • FLUFF Animal Rescue, 9400 SEMINOLE BOULEVARD, SEMINOLE
  • SPCA Tampa Bay, 9099 130th Ave N, Largo
  • Polk County Sheriff's Office Animal Control, 7115 De Castro Rd, Winter Haven
  • The Greener Side Haven, Inc., 3892 N Lecanto Hwy, Beverly Hills
  • Humane Society at Lakewood Ranch, 26920 Gopher Hill Road, Myakka City

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