“Clear the Shelters” Event Finds Homes for More Than 46,000 Animals Nationwide

July 26, 2016

Clear out the shelters

The “heat dome” affecting much of the U.S. didn’t slow down the excitement behind Saturday’s national “Clear the Shelters” event, which paired 680 shelters across America with 40 NBC and Telemundo television affiliates to ultimately help 46,422 shelter animals find safe and loving homes.

With financial support from major sponsors including the ASPCA, participating shelters offered low- or no-cost adoptions or waived spay/neuter costs to help get more animals into homes.

"These kind of large-scale collaborations are critical to saving lives,” said Matt Bershadker, President and CEO of the ASPCA, which provided $150,000 in funding to shelters across the country to support their events and hosted its own event in Manhattan. 

Nationally, the total number of adopted animals more than doubled the 19,000 placed during the events last year.

Across the Tri-state New York metropolitan area, 50 shelters found homes for 1,143 pets; at the ASPCA’s Adoption Center, 60 cats and dogs were adopted.

ASPCA Volunteer Cynthia Thrash

ASPCA volunteer Cynthia Thash poses with a list of adoptable dogs.

“It was another terrific event,” said Gail Buchwald, Senior Vice President of the ASPCA Adoption Center. “And it’s heartwarming to know that thousands of once-homeless animals were adopted.”  

Valentine, a formerly neglected dog rescued by the NYPD in January, is one of the ASPCA animals who went home with a new family on Saturday. Julio Pena of the Bronx, New York, along with his mother Ibelisse Castillo, was eager to adopt a new dog after their Doberman Pinscher passed away in May, who Pena said slept in his mother’s bed and accompanied her everywhere.

“I just saw Valentine’s face and knew she was the one,” said Julio. “I am a believer that dogs choose you. Her name is perfect. She looks like a Valentine.”

Valentine and her adopters, Julio Pena and Ibelisse Castillo

Valentine and her adopters, Julio Pena and Ibelisse Castillo.

Nearly a quarter of the animals that found homes on Saturday—11,600—were adopted from the 14 shelters that received ASPCA grant funding.

"Being a part of this national promotion was so inspiring for our staff and volunteers because we witnessed life-saving adoptions in our own community as well as across the nation,” said Katherine M. Shenar, Chief of Staff at San Diego Humane Society (SDHS), one of the grant recipients.

Shenar explained how SDHS’s three campuses (in San Diego, Escondido and Oceanside, California) used their employee Facebook group page to post inspiring photos throughout the day and encourage “healthy competition among campuses.” All told, 771 animals found homes—286 at the San Diego campus—which included hamsters and a pot bellied pig named Kermit.

“We loved seeing videos and photos from other shelters that had completed their day on the East Coast while we were still doing adoptions on the West Coast,” said Shenar.

In North Texas, more than 3,300 animals were adopted; in Washington, D.C., 1,400 found homes.

Los Angeles County shelters, including those in Downey and Baldwin Park where the ASPCA’s Safety Net program has been in place for nearly two years, placed 226 animals, including 170 dogs, 54 cats and two rabbits.

At the Animal Foundation in Las Vegas—another ASPCA grant recipient—218 animals (138 dogs and 80 cats) were adopted.

“By the end of the day we had only two cats and one dog left,” said Monica Liban, Animal Foundation’s Director of Development. “It was a great day; hot, tiring, but successful!”