More than 2,200 cats and dogs were reportedly adopted from animal shelters across North Texas on Saturday as part of "Empty the Shelter Day" — a pet adoption drive that saw more than 30 shelters in the region waiving their adoption fees for a day in an effort to find forever homes for the animals in their care.
Organizers had said prior to the event that it was to be largest pet adoption effort ever to be held in North Texas, and it certainly seems to have lived up to the hype.
According to reports, the turnout Saturday was overwhelming as swarms of adoption hopefuls descended upon participating shelters throughout the day. Dallas Morning News said, for instance, that people had "lined up around the building" of one participating shelter before it even opened its doors; a KXAS‑TV reporter tweeted this photograph of another participating shelter crammed full with eager animal lovers:
— Jocelyn Lockwood (@JocelynNBC5) August 16, 2014
“I’ve been doing this 14 years and this is the most packed our shelter has ever been,” Ray Rentschler, field operations director for participating shelter Arlington Animal Services, told KXAS‑TV of the incredible turnout Saturday. “We love it.”
Scroll down to see photographs of some of the animals that were adopted on "Empty the Shelter Day" and their very happy new family members (story continues below).
— GP Reporter (@gpreporter) August 17, 2014
— SPCA of Texas (@spcaoftexas) August 17, 2014
All in all, "Empty the Shelter Day" was a huge win in many ways, said both organizers and participants. Not only did the event help to increase the visibility of animal shelters in their communities, but — given that overcrowding is an especially urgent problem in shelters during the summer — it was also critical in the saving of many, many lives.
KXAS-TV reported, for instance, that one participating shelter, Dallas Animal Services, was euthanizing 50 to 60 animals every single day this summer because it simply didn't have space for them; on Saturday, however, the shelter found homes for 149 of its 150 animals.
The day's success could perhaps be best summed up in a photograph posted by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Texas, one of the event’s partners, at the end of the adoption effort.
“Look at those empty kennels,” the organization wrote on Instagram. “#emptytheshelter...#savealife.”
Encouraging pet adoption by waiving fees is not a new phenomenon. In June, AZCentral.com reported that almost 2,000 pets were adopted over a weekend after several shelters in one county agreed to waive their fees.
Though some critics say that "free adoption" events may attract people who aren't entirely serious about caring for their animals, a 2012 study conducted by researchers at the University of Florida found that free adoptions do not increase the risk of abandonment or shoddy care. "Free adoption promotions may increase adoptions without compromising quality of life," the researchers said at the time.