Clear the Shelters: 1,400+ Local Pets Find Homes as Adoption Fees Waived at Dozens of Shelters

What to Know

  • Animal shelters across the US worked with NBC owned stations and Telemundo stations for the second-annual Clear the Shelters event.
  • Many shelters, including Washington Humane Society-Washington Animal Rescue League, offered discounted or waived adoption fees.
  • More than 1,400 pets -- including dogs and cats, of course, but also chickens, parakeets, rabbits and an iguana -- were adopted!

When Emma adopted her dog, she started to cry. She and Mike lined up outside the Washington Humane Society-Washington Animal Rescue League at 11 p.m. Friday so they could take the dog home without waiting in the heat.

Emma said she was crying "because I helped her."

Lauren Lipsey, the director of rehoming for the Washington Humane Society, said seeing Emma's emotion at adopting Sarah was her favorite part of Clear the Shelters day, when adopton fees were waived at more than 30 D.C.-area shelters.

"It's just why we do all of this," she said with tears in her eyes. "So it was amazing."

The excitement showed in Emma's new dog, Sarah. Sarah, a large, skinny dog spotted black and brown, raced out of the shelter with her tail wagging. She jumped up to greet people and sniffed all around her.

"She adopted a true companion," Lipsey said.

NBC owned stations and Telemundo stations teamed up with shelters across the D.C. area, and across the country, for the second annual Clear the Shelters event Saturday.


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On Saturday, more than 1,400 pets -- including dogs and cats, of course, but also chickens, parakeets, rabbits and an iguana -- had found their forever homes. Throughout all of July, Clear the Shelters helped find homes for more 3,770 pets in the D.C. and Baltimore areas.

An awesome mom adopted an iguana for her son’s 16th birthday.

"Empty cages! *Happy, happy tears*," posted the BARCS animal shelter in Baltimore late Saturday. "All of these doggies found homes today during Clear the Shelters!"

BARCS said it had done 37 adoptions and another 35 were pending, with the animals waiting for spaying or neutering or on "stray hold," waiting to make sure that they weren't just lost.

Many shelters offered discounts or waived adoption fees for the event. For instance, the Washington Humane Society-Washington Animal Rescue League (WHS-WARL) waived adoption fees for Clear the Shelters, and each pet is already spayed or neutered.

Dozens of people lined up outside WHS-WARL Saturday. Among them were the future owners of Deputy, an 11-month-old mutt.

Deputy's new mom said she brought her two kids to the shelter yesterday and felt a connection right away. She said she told herself, "We'll be back to get him for sure."

Deputy's new dad carried him out of the shelter, and their son, Mateo, urged them to take him to his new home.

"He's hot," he said.

Emma and Mike were determined to find just the right new friend, and came home with Sarah.

A corgi named Travis was the first pet to go to his new home from WHS-WARL. Travis' new owner said he chose the dog because his daughter wanted a Corgi.

"Perfect dog," he said. "Pretty coat. Just a healthy dog, so we're happy."

Krystal Gilmore of Northwest D.C. visited WHS-WARL with her mom and adopted a white 2-year-old cat named Paula.

"We've been looking for a cat for some time, and it was kind of like our spirits just clicked," she said. "...We saw Paula and we fell in love with her."

Gilmore already has an 8-year-old Yorkie named Stallion. So far, they seem to be getting along well, she said by phone later Saturday.

"They both look like they're just going to be hanging out, laying out," she said.

Of the 7.6 million animals that enter shelters each year, only 2.7 million are adopted, according to the ASPCA. Clear the Shelters seeks to close that gap by matching animals in these shelters with loving homes. 

About 1,200 pets were adopted from the D.C. area on Clear the Shelters Day in 2015.

Even if you couldn't adopt a pet Saturday, you can go back to the shelter and find a variety of pets available. Lipsey said the shelter gets more than 35 animals per day on average, so there will be plenty of furry friends to choose from.

"We are never at a lack of animals," she said.

Lauren Lipsey, the director of rehoming for the Washington Humane Society, describes the importance and the emotional impact of Clear the Shelters.

If you already have a pet but need some guidance, the Washington Humane Society-Washington Animal Rescue League's website can be a helpful resource, and you can reach out to them if you need information or advice.

"I want people to know that we are a resource, even after adoption," Lipsey said. "Even if you haven't adopted from us, we are a resource to pet owners in the community."

Across the country last year, 20 shelters were cleared of all of their adoptable dogs.

Many or all adoption fees are waived today at participating shelters in the area. News4’s Wendy Rieger showed off some potential forever friends
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