7 happy stories from national pet adoption weekend

Yogi the dog with is smiling person
Best Friends-sponsored National Adoption Weekend results in thousands of adoptions.
By Liz Finch

A Louisiana teen who had been saving every penny she earned to adopt a kitten was ready to find her new best friend. A woman and her elderly mother decided it was finally time to look for a cat or dog to fill the emptiness in their home after losing their three pets in quick succession. And a Nevada man was simply seeking a doggy companion.

Well, not only did they all find perfect pets, but in late July nearly 10,000 other dogs and cats left rescue groups and shelters in the arms of their new people during Best Friends Animal Society’s National Adoption Weekend. The 589 participating network partner organizations also received stipends of $50 per cat and $100 per dog adopted — incentives that led many to drop or reduce fees.

We asked those groups to share some of their successful adoption stories with us, and boy did they deliver! Many talked about how their longest staying or harder-to-place animals were able to leave with some of the many people flowing into their facilities during the long weekend. And then there were stories like Yogi’s or Ally’s that left more than one staff member a little misty-eyed.

While we wish we could share all of the more than 100 responses, we’ve selected seven that we think will have you feeling as warm and fuzzy as we did — and yes, maybe even a little teary, too.

Cenla Cat Project (CCP), Louisiana

CCP’s reduced adoption fees made it possible for the thrifty 13-year-old young lady (mentioned above) to take home a spicy kitten appropriately named Etoufee. (That’s a classic Louisiana seafood stew that is known for (you guessed it) being spicy.

“She had been saving her money for a kitten when her mom heard about our event, so they came to see who we had,” says cat coordinator Teresa Belles. “The daughter was immediately drawn to Etouffee with her little, orange-tipped tail. Our reduced fee meant she was able to get the kitten and all the necessities.”

Tucker County Animal Shelter (TCAS), West Virginia

When some good Samaritans rescued 12-year-old Rusty Axel off a busy rural West Virginia highway, his matted appearance was a clear indication of having lived most of his life outdoors. Though they took him to nearby TCAS hoping that his family would reclaim him, Rusty’s finders expressed an interest in adopting the golden retriever mix — if no one came forward. Several days later a man came in to claim Rusty, but while talking to the staff he mentioned that the senior dog kept breaking his chain and running in the road.

“The family didn’t have the time to spend with Rusty like they used to,” says animal shelter director Bailey Falls. “He said if there was someone who could give him an indoor home, that would be best.”

The staff knew exactly which “someone” to call: Rusty’s rescuers. The people were overjoyed and Rusty is destined to spend his retirement years snug and cozy on a bed (indoors).

There’s a postscript to this story, though: “When we posted this story on our Facebook page, there were the inevitable comments of, ‘How could anyone abandon this baby?’ Bailey says. “We thought long and hard about how to respond and chose to focus on the fact that the family made the best choice they could for Rusty. We need to honor that choice.”

Best Friends in Northwest Arkansas

Harper came to Best Friends in May from Little Rock Animal Village. He was a friendly, playful, medium-weight dog with energy and charm to spare.

The weekend prior to the big event, Harper attended a pool party held by Best Friends in partnership with CoolWag, a nearby business that teaches dock jumping and has a full-size pool just for dogs. The staff posted a video on social media showing off Harper’s playfulness and overall good nature while playing ball, making friends and experiencing the water for the first time.

A young man who saw the post knew that Harper was just the dog he’d been looking for. When he found out that Harper would be at the adoption center during the weekend, he didn’t want to risk someone else getting to the black-and-white pup first. So, he showed up well before the center opened at noon and was waiting for Harper in the lobby when his fosters brought him in the door. The rest is history.

Catmandu, Nevada

Leigh Ann and her disabled elderly mother, residents of Carson City, Nevada, have had a rough time recently. They lost their three senior pets nine months apart, with the last one passing in September of 2021. Their house was lonely and empty without an animal and when they heard about the July event, they decided to see if they could find a cat to complete their little family.

Enter Bella, a sweet, four-year-old kitty who came to Catmandu after some sad circumstances of her own.

“We received a phone call from one of the local vets who had been contacted by Bella’s elderly owner trying to find someone willing to euthanize her cat,” says founder and executive director Linda Buchanan.

The woman was moving into an assisted living home and could not bring Bella with her. With no shelter in her county that accepted cats, she felt euthanasia was the only choice.

Luckily, Catmandu was able to take Bella and when the women came in that weekend, it was love at first sight for all concerned. After a couple of hours of visiting, Bella went home with Leigh Ann and her mom. Linda and the rest of the Catmandu staff are confident that Bella will easily fill the emptiness in the house and be a spoiled, well-loved kitty for the rest of her life.

Friends for Life Humane Society, Nevada

It seems impossible that people could pass up Webs’ adorable scruffy mug, though the little terrier mix was also too frightened to interact with people and show himself off. So, he sat at the Pahrump, Nevada, shelter waiting for the right person to walk through the door. That right person turned out to be a local resident named Matt, who saw Webs on the organization’s Instagram and was smitten.

“He thought about Webs for weeks and was sure he had been adopted because he was so perfect,” says Christine Kucenas, shelter operations supervisor.

Matt showed up at the event saying that he couldn't sleep for several days and that he even had a dream that Webs came to him. To his delight, Webs was there and still available for adoption.

“The best part is that when Matt walked up to see him, Webs came out of his shell instantly,” Christine says. “He went right up to Matt, asking to be held and everyone was amazed at this connection. From that moment on, the two have been best friends, or as we like to say, friends for life!”

SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties (Winchester SPCA), Virginia

Once upon a time, Tori was adopted from the Winchester SPCA in Virginia and lived a very adventurous life with a young woman who adored her. She even bought Tori a special bubble backpack so they could go hiking together. But only a year after the adoption, Tori’s person suddenly passed away and the loving, gentle kitty found herself once again in need of a home.

The shelter staff was determined to find a home for the grieving seven-year-old cat and used her as a “poster child” on Instagram and Facebook during the weekend. Social media followers fell for her sweet chubby face, earning her more than 15,000 likes and shares. On the final day of the event, Tori went home with a wonderful family that, with lots of love, is helping her get over her loss.

Long Beach Animal Care Services (LBACS), California

Yogi came to LBACS in May with something not all stray dogs have: a microchip. As it turned out, the Queensland heeler had been stolen from his owner, a veteran who lived in Texas. The staff made contact to deliver the happy news that Yogi was safe and sound, but sadly Yogi’s dad was in long-term care and could no longer care for him.

For about two months, both the staff and volunteers tried hard to find him a home, but Yogi just didn’t catch anyone’s eye — that is, until a family came in seeking an emotional support dog for their daughter.

“They needed someone calm who liked other dogs and did well with cats,” says Andrea Moran, adoption coordinator. “We showed them Yogi and the rest was history. The whole family fell in love with him and his sweet demeanor.”

Best of all, the father of Yogi’s new family just so happens to be a veteran.

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