Shirley Thomas saw an ad in the paper and fell in love.
So Thomas, 69, and her husband, 74-year-old Jack Wondolowski, made a trip to the Prince William County Animal Shelter in 2015 to meet their new best friend: Walter, an 8-year-old stray cocker spaniel.
“We found him right away, and as soon as we found him he came right up to us,” Thomas said. “Very scruffy-looking, not like his picture at all.”
Thomas said she couldn’t believe how many people were in the shelter that day. “I said to my husband, ‘Why are there so many people here?’ I said, ‘That’s good they want to adopt the animals, but this is tons of people.’”
The pair know had stumbled upon Clear the Shelters, when adoption fees in shelters across the country are waived so animals can find their forever homes.
Walter took to his new home in Manassas immediately, his mom said.
“He wasn’t afraid, he wasn’t forceful, he walked right up to the dog, Bentley, and just like ‘I’m your new brother,’” Thomas said.
Walter’s favorite activities are sleeping and sitting on people’s feet. Thomas said he gets along with the whole family, and he even got along with the cat, who “was the meanest cat on earth, let me tell you.”
“The cat smacked him once, but after that, they were really good buddies,” she said.
Thomas said she doesn’t have plans to adopt more animals anytime soon, but asked NBC Washington to remind readers to consider adopting older animals, too.
“Because all animals need a home, and sometimes these older ones have a hard time,” she said. “But I think he gives us more love ... than any puppy I could have brought home and raised.”
Stop by the fifth annual Clear the Shelters event, a nationwide pet adoption initiative hosted by NBC and Telemundo stations on Aug. 17. You can use the map below to find the shelter nearest you.