Thousands of animals adopted at annual Empty the Shelters event

Thousands of animals adopted at annual Empty the Shelters event

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Najd Ayari

Thousands of animals found new homes Saturday as part of Bissell Pet Foundation’s annual Empty the Shelters event that took place at 66 shelters and rescues across Michigan and in 12 other states nationwide.

Bissell Pet Foundation covered the adoption fees for all pets adopted across the nation as part of the event. Nationwide, thousands of animals were available for adoption at shelters and rescues partnering with Bissell Pet Foundation.

Cathy Bissell, founder of the Bissell Pet Foundation, was present at Bissell Headquarters in Grand Rapids to welcome eager adopters looking for an addition to their families. Bissell was hopeful for the day’s event and getting pets homed.

“Across the country we have over 9,000 pets available, so we’re hoping at least 7,000 pets (find homes),” Bissell said. “It’s not about the numbers, it’s about getting them into good homes.”

Bissell was moved by the families in attendance looking to adopt an animal during the event and those that pre-adopted before the event.

“It’s incredible the families coming to adopt,” she said. “I mean, you could see them. There are people excited to bring a pet (home). So the free thing is great, but it’s really more about awareness, and it gets people prompted to come to the event and adopt. The week before people get excited, they fill out their applications and they go to view the pets that they’ve seen onsite and (fortunately) they fall in love and they pre-adopt. It’s a great thing. So in the end they don’t care about the free event. They really get there to adopt a pet, so a lot of these shelters have seen a huge increase this week before the event.”

Bissell Headquarters welcomed eight Michigan shelters to their facilities and an estimated 100 adoptable animals. Among the shelters present, Unleashed Love Pet Rescue provided 20 dogs, cats and kittens to contribute to the event.

Rebecca Bowman, Vice President of Unleashed Love Pet Rescue, saw the success of the Empty the Shelters event before it began.

“We had a lot of adoptions this week,” she said. “This really drives high adoption on the week before the event, so we clear our shelters per say.”

The individuals looking to adopt a new family member were there looking for an animal for different reasons but all with the same purpose, to house an animal in need of a forever home.

Amy Curtis, 29, of Plainwell, was at the Bissell Pet Foundation looking to adopt a dog that would get along with her cat.

“I’m trying to find a dog that works well for our family and likes cats ‘cause my cat is a strange cat,” she said. “I kind of like the idea of being able to see all of the dogs at once and not have to pick and choose one dog that might work for your family and probably doesn’t. I like seeing them all so we can kind of tell what would work best.”

Ivana Klingenberg, 26, of Holland, attended the event with her two small children. They were on the lookout for a pit bull to add to their family.

“We have another dog at home that we wanted to add to, but we wanted to do it where we could give one of these guys a forever home just to give (them) the choice and opportunity to experience the love that every pet should have,” she said. “We’re trying to adopt another pit bull ‘cause we have one at home. I know they have a pretty bad rep sometimes, but we’ve never had a problem with them.”

Klingenberg suggests people who are afraid of pit bulls give them a chance.

“They need to experience it themselves,” she said. “Yes some have bad reps from fights, but I’ve never had a bad experience. The two dogs that we’ve had that have been pit bulls have been the most loving dogs that these girls could have. They’ve never harmed or anything and they’re protective of them and that’s what we’re looking for.” 

Stephen Fuchsel, 27, of Jonesville, drove nearly two hours to get to Grand Rapids to find an emotional support animal and found Macy, a two-year-old dog, to take home.

“She’s actually one that I was looking at before. She ended up getting adopted and the cats in the house didn’t like her, so they brought her back,” he said.

The dogs weren’t the only stars of the event. Heaven Can Wait Animal Haven was one of the shelters present at the event that provided adoptable cats. Anna Bose, a 12-year-old volunteer at Heaven Can Wait, shared why it was important to her to volunteer.

“The chance to help the cats. There are so many out there that can be helped and people just don’t,” she said. “Every cat should have a home.”

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