Animal shelters across the U.S. – including 13 shelters in San Diego – teamed up with NBC Saturday to find loving forever homes for pets in need.
The second annual Clear the Shelters nationwide pet adoption event brought San Diegans to shelters across the county in search of a furry friend to take home, including to the San Diego Humane Society on Gaines Street where NBC 7’s Dagmar Midcap spoke with locals looking to adopt pets throughout the day.
Local shelters in Chula Vista, El Cajon, Bonita, Coronado, Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside and Encinitas were also among those participating in Clear the Shelters, which runs through 5 p.m. Saturday. There were 1,473 local pets up for adoption across local participating shelters as the event kicked off.
At the San Diego Humane Society on Gaines Street, dozens of locals lined up well before 10 a.m. to adopt dogs, cats and bunnies. One-by-one, dogs, cats and kittens were matched with owners promising forever homes.
This included one local family that came with intentions to adopt one dog, but happily left Clear The Shelters with two new pups -- siblings that the family did not want to break up.
"Family is very important to us," said the mother. "And we wanted to keep them together."
The family gave their new pets "Star Wars" themed names fit for a pair of furry siblings on the very weekend of San Diego Comic-Con International: Jedi and Sith.
"We're just going to love them. We're just going to love them with all our hearts," said the father. "That's all we're going to do. And we're going to cuddle with them all day."
Another memorable adoption Saturday was that of a 10-week-old kitten named Emerald.
Her new owner, a little girl named Aricelli, said she named her new kitten Emerald because of the beautiful color of the animal's green eyes.
"I just really wanted this kitten," Aricelli told NBC 7, beaming with joy as she snuggled with her new best friend.
Aricelli took Emerald home in a little carrier, complete with its own plush, comfortable bed fit for a queen.
Meanwhile, San Diego resident Darrell Jennings walked away from the adoption drive with an 8-month-old pet bunny, whom he named Sebastian.
Jennings was excited to bring his new pet home to his wife and 13-year-old.
"I'm not going to leave empty-handed," said Jennings. "This is great."
Another lucky dog, Cooper, was among the first to be adopted Saturday at the San Diego Humane Society. His new family found an adoption listing for Cooper online a few days ago and came out to Clear The Shelters to pick up their new pet.
The adoption of another tiny dog soon followed at the Gaines Street shelter, a little girl cradling her new puppy, "Cha Cha," in her arms as she took her pet home.
Even a hamster -- named "Helen" -- was adopted at the San Diego Humane Society.
By the end of the day Saturday, 771 pets had been adopted across San Diego County. In El Cajon, almost all of the pets up for adoption were placed with families, with the exception of one pup named Opie.
More than 400 shelters in 20 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico waived or discounted fees as part of the one-day adoption drive Saturday. Once again, the goal was to find as many homes for animals as possible.
Last year, 777 pets were successfully adopted in San Diego. This included a lucky rabbit adopted by NBC 7's Dagmar Midcap.
Across the country, more than 19,000 pets were adopted during last year’s Clear the Shelters event. By 6 p.m. Saturday, this year's tally was up to 44,000 pets who had been placed with caring families this month during the Clear The Shelters event.
Locals who adopted a pet at today’s Clear the Shelters event can share photos of their new buddies with NBC 7 over social media by using the hashtags #ClearTheShelters and #NBC7.