Pets find new homes at Clear the Shelters event
Tri-County shelter waives adoption fees on Saturday
Cuddly creatures of all breeds and species were flying out of their cages on Saturday at the Tri-County Animal Shelter, as eager potential pet owners flocked to the Hughesville location to take part in the Clear the Shelters event.
Sponsored by NBC and Telemundo, the occasion featured more than 900 shelters across the country waiving adoption fees in an effort to reduce overcrowding by finding families for needy animals.
“It’s great that everyone comes together to try and help the animals in the community,” said Tri-County Animal Shelter Supervisor Kim Stephens. “Our goal is to place as many adoptable animals as we can into loving homes and open up some cages for animals that continue to come in.”
Stephens said the shelter adopted out a record 77 animals at the event in 2016, and she was hoping to surpass that total this year. As of Monday, the official Clear the Shelters website had the 2017 adoption count at 64,887 pets, pushing the threeyear total to 138,298 animals. The map on the site shows locations stretching all the from Hawaii to Puerto Rico, with plenty of plotted points in between.
The normal adoption cost at Tri-County is $125 for dogs and $85 for cats, and that covers vaccines, testing for diseases and any other necessary exams. The fee-free adoptions include all of those offerings, although some pets required extra treatment before they could be taken home.
Petco, another national sponsor for the event, supplied free supplies to each new owner. Customers left with goodie bags of pet food, toys, hats and various company gear. Staff from the Veterinary Centers of America, St. Mary’s Animal Hospital and the Humane Society of Charles County were on hand to provide additional medical assistance and information.
Patrons lined up at the Hughesville shelter well before the 10 a.m. start time, and were greeted at the front desk by cages full of kittens. Parents and children filed through a hallway lined with all types of dogs, and anyone interested could take the canines outside and run around with them in one of the two play areas.
There was a similar room brimming with cats who could be plucked from their cages and played with. Jamie Barta of Prince Frederick knew exactly which feline to pick. She had scouted out the shelter the previous week and set her sights on an all-gray male kitten named Squirt for her and her daughter. As Barta finalized the transaction with Stephens and Tri-County staff, Squirt got a bit skittish.
“He was playful the other day, I think it’s all the people,” said Bar ta, as she tried to remove Squirt’s claws from her shoulder.
Those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the presently-homeless animal kingdom could stop by the cat room, a quiet space where older kitties roamed (or napped) freely. The cats in this section seemed far less concerned about leaving their domain than the other animals, sleeping on the various ledges and ambling beneath the feet of onlookers. One particularly unconcerned resident sprawled out on the counter as a Tri-County employee attempted to fill out paperwork.
The shelter avoids putting ages on the collars of these cats to maximize their opportunities of finding a home.
“We want people to get to know their personalities,” Stephens said. “It’s a place for them to relax, more of a home environment.”
The Long family of Bowie made one of the first adoptions of the afternoon, nabbing a dog named Chance. Andy and Mindy Long had been searching for a new addition to the clan for about a month, but hadn’t settled on the right hound. Chance fit the bill and the family zoomed through the adoption process, a recurring theme despite the packed venue.
“Everything was smooth,” Andy Long said. “It’s busy, but they did a good job of moving people through quickly.”
The Longs welcome Chance to their family. From left, 12-year-old Rebecca, 14-year-old Nathaniel, Andy, Mindy and 7-year-old Katherine pose with their new family member.