UPPER MARLBORO — The Prince George’s County Animal Services Facility held its fourth annual pet adoption drive for the national Clear the Shelters pet adoption event in Upper Marlboro. The Clear the Shelters program brings together pet shelters around the county to adopt as many animals as possible. In collaboration with NBC 4 and Telemundo, […]
UPPER MARLBORO — The Prince George’s County Animal Services Facility held its fourth annual pet adoption drive for the national Clear the Shelters pet adoption event in Upper Marlboro.
The Clear the Shelters program brings together pet shelters around the county to adopt as many animals as possible.
In collaboration with NBC 4 and Telemundo, who largely help with the promotion of the event, the Clear the Shelters pet adoption drive has helped 230,930 pets get adopted nationwide since 2015.
The one-day-only event allowed people to come to the shelter and adopt animals, who have already been spayed, neutered and vaccinated for free. County residents would only have to pay five dollars for licensing.
“This is our fourth year,” said Simone Parks, administrative staff at the Animal Services Facility. “We’ve really grown a lot and we’ve learned a lot along the way, we’re ever-evolving the process. The first year was a madhouse. Everyone came and we were not fully equipped to handle it. Since then we’ve developed different staging areas.”
This year, the crowd that came out to the facility was so large that the line to adopt wrapped around half of the building. To deal with the crowd that seemed to just keep growing as the day wore on, the facility set up different stages in the adoption process.
Future pet owners would be put into groups of 20 households and would first have to fill out an application. They were taken, by group, into a room for a brief presentation where the adoption process would be explained to them and then they would be allowed to go into the kennels to interact with and select their pet with adoption counselors on hand to help.
The facility mainly held dogs and cats although additionally there were two parakeets, an iguana, bunnies, a ferret and turtles. A lot of the animals, such as the dogs and cats, were strays that the facility had previously taken in. Last year, the facility was able to give out 88 animals and hoped to give out even more this year.
“I’m looking for a puppy to take home to the kids,” said Melissa Blackwell who roamed the small dogs kennel with her husband. “We’re not looking for a specific breed, anything that speaks to us really.”
Cynthia White and her son Stephen were looking around the kennel for large dogs looking for one to take home. They already had their eyes on a couple of them that they would have wanted.
“We’re looking for a dog that’s cute and friendly, nothing specific,” Cynthia said. “It has been a good experience so far. I’m glad we’re finally in.”
Throughout the adoption process, individuals looking for a pet could choose any one that was marked as available. There could only be up to three applications on one animal and there was the risk of not being chosen to take the animal home. People were also allowed to put in applications on animals in the days leading up to the event which caused confusion.
“I wanted this one dog but I can’t put in an application,” said Alicia Washington. “It hasn’t been very clear.”
Washington had several dogs that she thought she might want throughout her search, but applications on them were already filled.
“I would come back to get another dog if I have to,” she said. “Someone’s application may not go through.”
Although people could secure their adoption before the end of the day, not all of the animals were able to go home right away. The facility is required by law the hold the animals for a certain period of time before letting them go.
However, other lucky people were walking out of the facility with their new pet. People walked out with cat carriers and carried dogs on leashes excited to bring home the new member of their family like Melinda Taylor who was excited to leave with her new Presa Canario puppy.
“I’m very happy to be able to give him a new home and surprise my husband,” she said.
This year, 1,200 shelters across the country participated in the event and 77,279 pets were adopted in total. Parks thought the adoption process here and Prince George’s County as a whole was going really well.
“It seems great by the number of people we have this year,” Parks said. “Of course they may be disappointed if they don’t get the animal they want. It gives us publicity though and they may come back another time.”