Brand new holiday in California helps 3,600+ animals get adopted, nearly doubling goal

A black dog with pointy ears wearing a neon yellow bandana reading "adopt me." Two kittens; one brown tabby, and a tuxedo cat, sit side by side looking to the left.

These days, it seems like there’s an awareness holiday for everything. Fortunately, there’s a lot to celebrate!

In California, a new holiday is going to the dogs (and cats… and hamsters). 

On June 1, the California Animal Welfare Association, the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals teamed up to host the first-ever California Adopt-a-Pet Day

Photo curtesy of CalAnimals

(The California State Senate even passed a resolution proclaiming the day a real holiday across the state).

The event, which included more than 170 participating animal shelters across the state, was a resounding success, sending a total of 3,609 pets to their forever homes.

That total is made up of 1,977 cats, 1,541 dogs, and 91 other critters (including rabbits, guinea pigs, and more). 

Organizers originally had a goal of 2,024 adoptions.

“On June 1, we saw just how important our animal shelters are to the people of California,” Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, the CEO of the SF SPCA, said in a statement.

“They heard our call to action and responded in kind. As a result of this event, thousands of households are now enriched by having a special pet in their lives, and our shelters received the support and attention they deserve.”

A couple holds up a puppy wearing a clear cone. They hold up a letter board reading "Welcome to the family. #CAAdoptAPetDay." Behind them is a collage of fliers for California's Adopt A Pet Day
Photo courtesy of SF SPCA

The ASPCA covered the cost of adoptions, making it easier for community members to welcome a pet into their lives, while still financially supporting the animal rescue organizations in the area.

This is especially important, as California shelters have faced a large influx of animals in recent years. Experts attribute this to ongoing economic hardships, like finding pet-friendly housing and affordable veterinary care.

According to a statement about the event, California has one of the highest rates of renters in the country, and housing is one of the largest barriers for families being able to keep or adopt a pet. 

A woman holds a small puppy swaddled in a blanket outside of an ASPCA van
Photo courtesy of ASPCA

It’s clear to the animal lovers: Something’s gotta give.

“The success of California Adopt-a-Pet Day underscores the tremendous appeal of shelter animals and the unique power of the human-animal bond,” Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA, said in a statement. 

“It also is an inspiring message to shelters, pet owners, and the animal welfare community that when we come together, we can make change for animals in need.”

For many new pet parents, this was the first time they visited their local shelter — and the first time they adopted a shelter pet. The Calaveras Humane Society in Angels Camp, California, for instance, said June 1 set a new one-day adoption record for their organization.

A young woman with tan skin and long brown hair stands outside of an animal shelter. In front of her is a large, gray mastiff mix on a leash.
Singh and Nelly. Photo courtesy of CalAnimals

“Our shelters are overcrowded with a variety of wonderful animals just waiting for people to come and meet them,” Jill Tucker, the CEO of CalAnimals, said. “It is our greatest hope that members of the public will visit shelters first when they are ready for a new pet.”

One such case was that of Nelly, a 3.5-year-old mastiff mix, who had been in the care of Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter for 1.5 years. But when she met Sahiba Singh — who drove 40 minutes to meet Nelly after seeing her on social media — the rest was history.

“She jumped out at me immediately. I read that she was shy and needed a quiet home. We have that. I had to meet her,” said Singh. “She’s so happy here, and we love her so much. We’re going to give her a lifetime of reasons to wag.”

A large gray mastiff sleeps in a bed of blankets
Nelly taking a nap. Photo courtesy of Friends of Alameda Animal Shelter

Nelly, along with her 3,608 fellow adoptees, is proof that pet adoption makes a real impact. While the next annual California Adopt-a-Pet Day won’t take place again until June of 2025, animal welfare activists have made it clear that every day is a good day to adopt a pet from your local shelter.

Better yet, every day is another opportunity to work together to help animals find their fairy-tail ending.

Bershadker said it best: “Knowing that 3,609 shelter animals found homes in a single day when national and local animal welfare groups work together is proof that collaboration is key to saving more lives not only in California but across the country.”

Header images via Haven Humane Society and ASPCA

Article Details

June 18, 2024 10:34 AM
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