Clear the Shelters Day, which was held last Saturday, was a resounding success. A record-breaking 88,000 pets were adopted, which brings the total of pets adopted at the event in the last four years to more than 240,000.
The annual nationwide pet adoption campaign, which is sponsored by NBC and Telemundo, works with more than 1,200 shelters and rescues around the country, waiving or reducing adoption fees. In New York alone, almost 10,000 pets were adopted, leading officials to proclaim it was the most successful drive ever.
"This was a record-breaking tri-state Clear the Shelters campaign. More adoptions were recorded at more tri-state shelters and rescues than ever before. Our WNBC team thanks everyone who adopted," said President and General Manager of NBC 4 New York, Eric Lerner.
In San Diego, nearly half of the animals in participating shelters were adopted, according to local officials. San Diego County Animal Services director Daniel DeSousa said, "Our first adopter arrived at the gates to our Bonita shelter at 5:45 in the morning. They had a specific pet in mind and wanted to ensure they had the first opportunity to adopt the animal.
"Every day an animal is adopted at our shelters is a good day but Clear the Shelters Day is a truly incredible day as we know that dozens of animals that were once in our care are now in permanent, loving homes."
Some, such as Orange County German Shepherd Rescue director Maria Dales, have criticized the event as “short-sighted” since the focus is mainly on reducing the number of shelter animals at low or no-cost.
"Such programs do not screen prospective adopters, and virtually anyone 18 or older who can fog a mirror is incentivized to adopt an animal on the spot in the pursuit of the program goal,” Dales said. "A false send of urgency promotes sloppy adoptions simply so that the shelter can applaud itself for the 'success' of emptying the facility."
Dales claims that people who are unable to pay adoption fees will likely be unable to financially support or adequately care for an animal by providing “proper vet care or training, two critical components of responsible animal stewardship."
Dales perspective seems to ignore the fact that many animals adopted during the event do find loving homes thanks to the widespread promotion of the event. Even with “screened” adoptions, there are no guarantees that any animal will be properly cared for. In any case, thanks to the event, thousands of animals can sleep tonight under their own roof, rather than a shelter cage.