10 happy tales from National Pet Adoption Weekend

Smiling person holding the happy dog she adopted
Third Best Friends-sponsored National Adoption Weekend results in homes for more than 11,000 dogs and cats.
By Liz Finch

Best Friends sponsored its third National Adoption Weekend at the end of September and happy stories are rolling in from the 662 participating network partner organizations. Whether it’s about a dog who will do anything for a Nilla wafer, a cat who loves to dress up in tiny T-shirts or stately seniors biding their time until the perfect person takes them home from the shelter, every pet has a story. 

The event was a huge success with more than 11,000 dogs and cats going to new homes. Combined with the two events in May and July of this year, around 25,000 cats and dogs went home during the promotions. That’s the goal: helping our partners place pets in homes. Best Friends promotes the event and provides organizations with free advertising materials as well as stipends for each pet adopted. Those funds help offset costs for veterinary care and encourage shelters to lower or waive adoption fees.

Here are 10 happy tales from the more than 500 recently shared by participating groups. The numbers are impressive but each story is unique and every life saved is worth celebrating. We hope you love these updates as much as we did.

Franklin County Humane Society, Virginia

Looking at him playing “fetch the bouncy toy” with his people, you wouldn’t know Baffle lived outside on a chain for years before being brought in from the cold by the Franklin County Humane Society (FCHS).

You also wouldn’t know that he struggled with staying in a kennel, pacing, barking and exhibiting other signs of anxiety. But all those stress behaviors disappeared once Baffle got a chance to go on an outing with Donna Essig, FCHS president.

“I took him out for a car ride and once he got to go into an actual home, he was amazing,” Donna says. “He lay down on the blanket on the floor. He took Nilla wafer cookies like such a gentleman from my little human nephews. And even though he got excited at the sight of a cat, he just watched with curiosity.”

During the September adoption event, Baffle batted his “big brown doe eyes” at everyone coming through the door. And it worked. He has a new name ― Alfonzo (aka Alfie) ― courtesy of the children in his new home, where he is thriving (even though he’s still confused by the sight of himself in the mirror). But best of all, Alfie won’t ever again be left chained outdoors.


EASEL Animal Rescue League, New Jersey

When Little Friend showed up at EASEL Animal Rescue, he had a very large open wound on his back that required antibiotics and dressings. As he healed, his treatment plan changed to include the application of topical medication, something most cats respond to by licking it all off. To prevent Little Friend from doing that, the staff dressed him up in some tiny shirts that, it turns out, he really digs.

“He loves sporting his casual attire,” says EASEL board member Georgia M. Arvanitis. “We think he realizes that as an adult black cat he needs to dress it up a bit to get noticed, and we’ve found that he really likes blue shirts in particular.”

What better time to get all dressed up than the Best Friends National Adoption event? Over the weekend, his fancy duds caught the eye of a human named Scott, who also happens to be fond of blue shirts. They probably can’t share wardrobes but they can certainly share many happy days together.


Jackson Day Foundation, Utah

Twelve-year-old Buddy once lived in a loving home, but his person wasn’t able to continue caring for him (and hadn’t been able to do so for some time). Buddy appeared to be in pretty rough shape when he arrived at Jackson Day Foundation (JDF.) He was filthy with very long nails and raw, infected areas of skin around his eyes.

Fortunately, a trip to the groomer and some vet care were all Buddy needed ― just in time, too, because everyone wanted him to look his very best for the big adoption event. That weekend, a kind lady with a love of senior dogs walked in, looked right past the younger dogs and chose Buddy to take home with her.


Madera County Animal Services, California

From the moment he arrived at Madera County Animal Services (MCAS), Boscoe made his feelings about the shelter crystal clear by snapping at caregivers, especially while they cleaned his kennel. So, they were careful to warn people about his quirky personality and that he might try to nip them.

True to form, Boscoe growled and snapped at one nice family through the kennel when they stopped to admire him during the event. Lucky for him, they weren’t easily put off.

The family returned the next day and quietly offered Boscoe some treats, which he hesitantly accepted and then promptly went to sleep ― a sign that he was relaxing some around these new people. On event’s final day, the family was determined to take him out of his kennel and it seems Boscoe was on the same page. As soon as he smelled them, the formerly chompy little poodle mix wagged his tail and began handing out kisses left and right.


Lawrence Humane Society, Kansas

At six months of age, Mama Hazelnut was still a baby herself when she arrived at Lawrence Humane Society (LHS) but she was already nursing 10 kittens. Six of them were hers and the other four were “adopted” from a sick mama cat who couldn’t produce enough milk for them.

That’s a lot of babies to feed, so the whole blended family was sent to a foster home where they could get supplementary bottle-feeding. The foster family named the kittens Cashew, Peanut, Macadamia, Brazil, Walnut, Pistachio, Almond, Acorn, Pecan and Filbert. The whole pile of nuts ― aka “The Nutty Crew” ― was adopted quickly once they were of age. Unfortunately, Hazelnut had a harder time.

“She made it very clear that despite her love of humans, she did not want to live with any other cats or dogs,” says Elina Alterman, LHS’ director of development and communications. “That may have been because Hazelnut was living in an overcrowded home with 76 other cats before she came to us.”

Fortuitously on the first day of the event, Elina met with an event planner named Lisa, who mentioned that she was looking to adopt.

“Lisa’s daughter had recently moved out and had taken her cat with her, so she was looking to adopt a cat to be the only pet in the home,” Alina says. “Hazelnut’s story really resonated with Lisa, who is also a single mom. She said that it was clearly fate and immediately left the meeting to go meet Hazelnut and sign the adoption paperwork."


Cabot Animal Support Services, Arkansas

Victor was just one of 17 dogs (and three cats) rescued by Cabot Animal Support Services (CASS) from a severe neglect situation. But when officers collected the animals from the property, Victor was the only dog in a kennel and the others roamed freely.

Victor hardly seemed like a difficult dog. In fact, the senior hound never made a peep while his fellow furry roommates were rounded up. And after being released from his kennel, he handed out “endless kisses and hugs, according to CASS. Still, he had a hard time getting adopted. As the other 16 dogs went to new homes, Victor sat patiently awaiting his turn. On National Adoption Weekend, his turn finally came. After 136 days in the care of CASS, Victor finally had his very own “gotcha day.”


Cat Adoption Team, Oregon

Hermione is an adorable young tortoiseshell kitten who came to the Cat Adoption Team (CAT) through the organization’s “nine lives transfer program” to receive extra socialization support. She got it and quickly transformed from a cat who hid all the time to one who regularly came out for playtime and petting.

“Encouragement with treats and a peacock feather toy certainly helped,” says Heather Svoboda Miller, Cat’s communications and development manager.

The sweet but shy Hermione had a hard time catching the attention of potential adopters, though. After more than 100 days in CAT’s care, only a few folks had inquired about her and all of them ultimately felt that she wasn’t the right match.

“Because she’s so adorable and needed the extra marketing attention, Hermione became the poster model for our Best Friends National Adoption Weekend promotions,” Heather says. “And it must have worked! A woman named Victoria came to the shelter specifically to meet Hermione after seeing her pet profile on CAT’s website, and it was love at first greeting.

“During their introduction, our staff shared that playing with peacock feathers is a great way to connect with Hermione. Later, Victoria came up to the register to purchase a huge bouquet of about 20 peacock feathers. Noticing eyes on her, (she said) with a laugh: ‘Well, you said this is what Hermione likes!’

“It’s been an honor to be part of Hermione’s journey and a delight to know that she found just the right home."


Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter, Maryland

Alex Ward, grants manager for the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS), was pleased to share the following note from an adopter. It sure sounds like Hawke hit the jackpot during the National Adoption Weekend.

"I cannot tell you how much I love and enjoy this fun, playful and sweet boy. I did rename him River (like the actor River Phoenix) because his green eyes are the color of a river and we will always be hiking along or swimming in one. I know he’s never been hiking because when he got to a fallen log, he honestly had no idea what to do. I helped him over it and then helped him go under the next one. He’s quite a trooper.

“He’s already been to my vet for a wellness checkup and I can’t wait to do a DNA test. I couldn’t have picked a better dog. He is friendly to (everyone) he meets, is a great hiking buddy and BFF, is a wonderful alarm system and bodyguard, and (he) keeps me laughing. (He is) one of the sweetest dogs I could ever have asked for.”


Here Today Adopted Tomorrow Animal Sanctuary, Massachusetts

Miss Kitty’s looks are a bit deceiving. First, although this tiny tuxedo looks like a kitten, she’s actually a fully grown, five-pound, two-year-old cat. And second, Miss Kitty’s personality doesn’t quite fit her angelic appearance.

“When she first (arrived), she was very unsure of people,” says Rachael Max, president and co-founder of Here Today Adopted Tomorrow Animal Sanctuary (HTAT). “We often referred to her as a ‘three-pet cat,’ meaning that you could get about three pets in before Miss Kitty made it very clear that she was done with you.”

Slowly over the next four months, Miss Kitty started making friends with the HTAT staff, and even showed some interest in new people visiting the shelter. One of them was Katelyn, who dropped by during National Adoption weekend. By then the fickle feline was ready to trust and love someone special, and the feelings were mutual. In fact, Miss Kitty was the only cat Katelyn met before deciding they were meant to be.


Humane Society of Harlingen, Texas

This last story from the Humane Society of Harlingen (HSH) isn’t about just one happy adoption story. Instead, it’s the tale of how these special adoption weekends can turn things around for an entire shelter. Maria Villagomez, HSH development coordinator, shares the story.

“The Humane Society of Harlingen, like many shelters, has been battling to stay afloat as more and more animals come through our doors. Our shelter was overwhelmed with the number of dogs in our care, and we knew that we couldn’t humanely house any more.

“We worried that we would have to (consider) euthanizing animals just to create space for more coming in. Still, our staff kept pushing through and working nonstop to get as many of our dogs adopted as possible ― especially 10 who were identified as the most at risk.

“We put out a special plea for those 10 dogs on the day before the event kicked off, and we were blown away by the level of community support. The public heard our cry for help and people even arrived from different cities just to save these dogs. We were left speechless and with glowing hearts as each dog left, destined to spend their days being loved in a warm home instead of alone in a cold kennel.

“We brought home more than happiness this weekend. We brought home the undeniable reality that our no-kill mission does not falter and will continue to lead the way in the Rio Grande Valley.”

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