Their eyes light up anytime someone walks by. Some practically lose control of their bodies if someone stops and looks at them.
The truly lucky will trade their cages at the shelter for a forever home with a family or someone who needs a friend.
“It’s the best sight in the world to see somebody going home with their new animal,” said veterinarian Gary Weitzman, President of the San Diego Humane Society.
Dr. Weitzman hopes to see that hundreds of times during the annual Clear the Shelters event during the month of August.
“But this year is different. Everything’s different this year,” Weitzman warned.
Clear the Shelters traditionally is a one-day event where adoption fees are waived to encourage as many adoptions of dogs, cats, and other furry creatures after the busy summer months. Weitzman said about 500 pets were adopted in one day from local shelters during the 2019 Clear the Shelters.
“This year, everything’s a little bit more low key,” he said.
Photos: Clear the Shelters Returns… Low Key
That’s a byproduct of the coronavirus pandemic. The San Diego Humane Society and its fellow agencies like the Rancho Coastal Human Society can’t allow crowds to roam the halls to look inside those cages. 2020’s Clear the Shelters begins virtually with all the animals listed online and then potential adopters can schedule an appointment to meet their potential new family members in person.
This is the sixth consecutive year NBC 7 and Telemundo 20 have partnered with the shelters and rescues to promote the event.
Big-hearted people who aren’t ready to adopt can also make donations to help the shelters and rescues manage during the pandemic.
Dr. Weitzman said the important thing is to find homes for the animals. He said a lot of people could benefit from having a faithful companion at home during the stay-at-home order.
“These are the safest things in the world to hug right now. You can’t get this close to a person,” said Weitzman while holding a dog in his arms.
He said a pet lowers blood pressure, decreases stress, and has a positive effect on households.
“This is really important,” said Weitzman. “This bond is going to save our lives.”
Linda Smith wasn’t looking to save her life, but she was looking for a companion when she adopted her cat Layla.
“I went in to get her because my son suggested he was going to get me a cat for my birthday, which is today,” she said.
Smith’s husband, Terry, died in late-July after battling cancer for less than a year.
“He was a phenomenal man,” Smith said.
With a smile, Smith said Layla immediately started exploring her new home.
Weitzman said there are a lot of people and families like Smith who could also benefit, and the Clear the Shelters event is a good time to start.
“Pets help in a lot of ways,” he concluded.