Archie, a 1½-year-old shepherd-mix with a lot of energy, has had a little trouble finding a family. After being rehomed a few times, he had been living at the Fredericksburg SPCA since December.
But last Saturday, Fredericksburg resident Michael Whitlock officially adopted the longtime shelter resident during Fredericksburg SPCA’s Clear the Shelters event.
Clear the Shelters is a national campaign in which more than 1,000 shelters across the U.S. waive adoption fees for animals 7 months and older to help dogs and cats get adopted.
Whitlock came to the event knowing he wanted to meet Archie.
“Archie was the one I was like, ‘Alright, I’m going to get here early, and get everything set up,’ ” he said.
When he got there, there was already a line of people waiting to meet the canine. Whitlock decided to wait and hope Archie would still be available by the time it was his turn to greet him. “There were two people in front of me, and then those two didn’t want him, so I was like, ‘I will gladly look at him, and see how we connect and everything,’ and he loved me.”
Pixie, a 2-year-old mixed-breed who was adopted by Jesse and Lesley Cook of Stafford County, was the first adoption of the daylong event. All earlier adoptions had been part of the shelter’s foster-to-adopt program.
Then, Wonderwall, a gray cat who was named after the song by Oasis, was adopted by Michelle Newcomer and her 16-year-old daughter, Ellesha Jundt.
Archie, Pixie and Wonderwall were only a few of the pets that found families at the Fredericksburg SPCA on Saturday. The shelter had about 100 animals available for adoption when it opened its doors at noon. While it typically closes at 6 p.m., the shelter planned to stay open much later for the event.
“We are hoping to clear the shelter. Right now, we have roughly 100 animals up for adoption, so we’re hoping that we get 100 adoptions,” said Von Young, the organization’s communications coordinator, on Saturday afternoon. “Staff is going to stay until every animal is adopted or midnight, whichever comes first.”
By 5 p.m., shelter staff was already heading over to the Spotsylvania Animal Shelter to bring some of its dogs to the event, a plan set in place for once the SPCA saw most of its dogs or cats adopted.
“We are doing a transfer for our neighbors, the Spotsylvania Animal Shelter, because they are really over-full as well, so we want to promote them for adoption,” said Young.
As of 6:40 p.m., the Fredericksburg SPCA saw 35 dogs and 35 cats adopted. On a typical day, the shelter sees about two to 10 adoptions.
The shelter’s foster-to-adopt program allows potential pet owners to foster an animal for a week before deciding to adopt. Many animals had been fostered the day before the event, as the shelter had encouraged people to beat Saturday’s anticipated crowds.
Fredericksburg resident Sophia Morales did just that when she visited the shelter on Friday and decided to foster a 2-year-old orange tabby named North.
“I came here [on Friday] to check everything out before I made a decision and I guess it was just like a trial … He was really great, he’s fantastic,” she said. “When I came here, he cuddled all over me and he was the same at my house, so I’m like, ‘I absolutely have to keep this cat.’”
Morales came back on Saturday to make North’s adoption official.
Fredericksburg SPCA partnered with B101.5 to promote Clear the Shelters, and Juan More Taco, Rita’s Italian Ice, Dogtopia and Paws, Pose and Play were also onsite for the event.
Both the Stafford County Animal Shelter and the Louisa County Animal Shelter participated in Clear the Shelters, as well. The Stafford Animal Shelter saw 14 dogs and 24 cats adopted, and 9 dogs and 12 cats at the Louisa shelter found homes.
The adoption campaign is in its fifth year and is supported by NBCUniversal-owned television stations.
According to the campaign’s website, 294,194 pets have been adopted in the U.S. during the events since 2015. Last year, 80,000 pets were adopted nationwide, according to the Fredericksburg SPCA’s website.
This year, the campaign hoped to net 100,000 adoptions across the U.S.