Proven Strategies

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Participants in July’s National Adoption Weekend share some of their happiest tales

July 19, 2023

Here’s hoping you were one of the nearly 600 Best Friends Network Partners to take part in the year’s first national adoption weekend, held June 30 to July 2. These events were so successful last year that we were thrilled to be able to bring them back in 2023. Not only do they help more animals leave crowded organizations to go into new homes, but we get the opportunity to provide partners with much-needed funds; in this case, $232,275 in adoption stipends went to participating groups.

Before we share a few stories about some happy adoptions from this year’s event, let’s look at the numbers:  

  • It was no surprise again this year that the most adoptions occurred at the largest shelter systems – Los Angeles Animal Services; Maricopa County Animal Care and Control in Arizona; and Lifeline Animal Project in Georgia were the top three, with a total of 534 adoptions between them (330 dogs and 204 cats).
  • Shelters and rescues of all sizes experienced a lot of success this year, however, netting a total of 9,291 adoptions overall (5,613 cats and 3,678 dogs). Comparatively, the same shelters adopted 4,334 cats and 2,837 dogs during the same time last year (a 30% increase for both cats and dogs from year to year).  
  • While participants were not required to waive or reduce their fees, 63% of organizations that took part chose to do so.  

And now, a few of the stories our participants graciously shared with us (along with some fabulous pictures to boot!):

Metro East Humane Society (MEHS), Illinois                              
Adoptions: 10 cats, 15 dogs; reduced fees

Couple with white dogThe staff at MEHS were starting to get worried that beautiful Indy would never find the right home for her needs. That’s because Indy is deaf, and the shelter decided that she needed a home without other animals and kids. The National Adoption Weekend attracted the attention of a couple who had moved to the U.S. from Brazil last year, and they took one look and fell in love. Now Indy is in a home where she can be the center of attention — a status she has long deserved.


Rhea County Animal Shelter (RCAS), Tennessee                             
Adoptions: 7 cats, 3 dogs; reduced fees

Gray tabby cat in box Lilo the smoke-colored tabby and white kitty wasted no time working her magic on a family with five lively children who came into the Rhea County shelter set on adding a feline to their busy household. From the moment Lilo wrapped her paws around the middle child, they knew it was meant to be. Then the mom asked about the adoption fee. “Our adoption counselor shared the heartwarming news — it was a ‘name your own adoption fee’ event,” says RCAS board treasurer Renee Milner. “In that moment, each child reached into their tiny pocket and pulled out a dollar bill, eager to contribute. Smiling brightly, the youngest child spoke up, ‘We raided our piggy banks, and each put in a dollar. Will it be enough?’ For RCAS, it was more than enough. “Lilo's adoption not only marked the beginning of a beautiful bond but also brought forth the kindness and generosity of these five remarkable children,” Renee adds. “In this simple act of giving, they had unknowingly enriched their lives and forever changed Lilo's fate.”


The August Fund, Alaska                             
Adoptions: 28 dogs; reduced fees

Family with dog For one Alaskan family, the National Adoption Weekend was not only an opportunity to adopt a new dog, but it was also a chance to adopt rather than shop. “The family had posted on social media about seeing puppies for sale out of a car in front of a local grocery and the people asking $1,000,” says co-founder Julie St. Louis. “While educating them on the cons of supporting a bad puppy mill situation that local animal control is trying to put a stop to, we also encouraged them to come to our adoption event for a puppy with a far lower adoption fee thanks to Best Friends. They would also get a dog with a guarantee of all age-appropriate vaccinations and a promise that if the pup were not the right fit, we’d take them back no questions asked.” That was a deal the family couldn’t pass up, and they left the shelter with a new wriggly shepherd mix puppy.  


Cabot Animal Support Services (CASS), Arkansas                             
Adoptions: 3 cats, 2 dogs; reduced fees

Woman holding cat carrier box with cat peeking outAfter his owner passed away, the man’s wife brought Willie and five other cats to the vet to be euthanized. Even though the location was outside of CASS’s jurisdiction, they didn’t want to see six healthy adoptable cats lose their lives simply because their person had died. When the cats arrived at the shelter, they were understandably stressed out and hid from all visitors. Slowly all of them were adopted, including Willie, who was the last one to go to a new home during the adoption event. Not surprisingly, he didn’t cooperate to have his formal adoption picture, but you get the idea.  



BlueFeather Horse Sanctuary and Misfit Mustangs, Nevada                             
Adoptions: 5 cats, 9 dogs; waived fees

Brown dog with one ear upBlueFeather may focus on horses, but they take in other animals too. That includes a dog named Sprout, who was an instant fit for a family that came in to meet him during the event. As the shelter staff chatted with Sprout’s new people, however, they found that it truly was meant to be. “Through our conversation we realized that this family and our family know the same people in California and grew up in the same areas,” says co-founder Rebecca Flowers. “What a coincidence!” The event also ended in several animals getting adopted by veterans because the shelter waived fees for them in honor of Independence Day. “I am so happy we were able to help so many. I think this is an event we will do every year.”


The Cat House on the Kings, California                             
Adoptions: 16 cats, 2 dogs; reduced fees

Orange tabby cat standing on hind legsA round of applause goes to Atlas the Entertainer, a snuggly and affectionate boy whose extended time at the organization had begun to dim his shine. “After being with us for more than a year, Atlas had become sad,” says the organization. “He came to us as a kitten who was barely saved from euthanasia and needed to go through several different treatments to become healthy.” All that is behind him now, though, and Atlas can finally focus on sharing his rumbly purr (and all his entertaining tricks) with his beloved new family.



Humane Society of Barron County (HSBC), Wisconsin                               
Adoptions: 2 cats, 2 dogs; reduced fees

Long haired tabby cat When a mother and her daughter came into HSBC looking for a cat who would do well with the two kitties they already had at home, they were set on taking JUST one. Well, you know how this story goes. The daughter was immediately attracted to Weeble, a 14-year-old female who probably didn’t have any interest in having new feline friends. No worries, as Mom decided they should get a second, younger kitty, too. That turned out to be Sebastian, a young male who tugged at their heart strings upon hearing that he had been abandoned in an apartment when his previous owner moved. Congrats Weeble and Sebastian!  


Hearts Alive Village (HAV), Nevada                             
Adoptions: 8 cats, 7 dogs; reduced fees

Couple with two dogsInsisting that animals have to be adopted in pairs makes it even harder to find homes for them. So, when Carlos and Chili formed a tight bond during playgroup, the staff at HAV was doubtful they’d get the chance to be adopted together. But, lo and behold, a family visiting Las Vegas from California saw the diminutive buddies and decided it was the perfect time to take advantage of the lower adoption fees the shelter offered during the event. “They even cut their trip short to pick up the kids and head home,” says Founder and executive director Christy Stevens. “We are so happy to report they arrived safely, are settling in, and loving their new life.”



Oklahoma Humane Society (OK Humane), Oklahoma                               
Adoptions: 22 cats, 15 dogs; no change in fees

Small white dog being heldThree of the dogs adopted from OK Humane during the Best Friends National Adoption Weekend had an incredible journey to finding their forever homes. Walter and Little Orphan Annie were part of a headline-making animal cruelty case about an alleged illegal backyard breeding operation. “The people loaded 36 dogs in the cargo area of a U-Haul and left it in a Walmart parking lot,” says Rachel Findley, OK Humane’s director of marketing. “When Oklahoma City’s animal control officers found the dogs, it was early June, and the inside of the vehicle registered more than 100 degrees.” OK Humane took 17 of the dogs into its foster program and helped restore them to health. “Although their journey began in a heartbreaking way, all the dogs are now happy, healthy, and HOME with their new doting adopters. The stipends provided by Best Friends will allow OK Humane to continue being able to step up and help when unfortunate situations like this case occur.”

Tehama County Animal Care Center (TCACC), California                               
Adoptions: 4 cats, 12 dogs; no change in fees

Tabby cat standing in front of computer Feather arrived at TCACC in an unusual way when a group of young kids abandoned her in the lobby of the shelter and then took off on their scooters. She gained her name because her tail is always puffed out (in a good way!), and she quickly became known as quite the character. “Feather likes to run around the shelter, snuggle certain dogs, and steal unattended human food,” says TCACC’s manager Christine McClintock. She endeared herself to the whole staff, but none more than the shelter’s coordinator. “She couldn't stand the thought of someone else taking her home and never seeing her again.” So, Feather went home with her (during the weekend event). She’s still an honorary TCACC resident and occasionally decides she wants to come into work so she can run around, snuggle those dogs, and socialize with all her shelter friends.  


Bossier City Animal Services (BCAS), Louisiana                               
Adoptions: 29 cats, 31 dogs; waived fees

Man with white dogMiss Rosey had been in our shelter for 72 days — 72 very long days. “From day one she struggled,” the shelter says. “She hated the noise, the barking big dogs, and the loneliness of her kennel. Meeting new people was a struggle for her as she had been failed by humans before. Some days getting off her bed was not even worth it for her.” Rosey had trouble competing with the “cute, bubbly young things” who also lived at the shelter, had tear stains on her face and callouses on her elbows, and was heartworm positive. Even videos and photos didn’t do the trick . . . until a man from Arkansas saw one of her snapshots online, read her story, and took a road trip to come get her. “She did not have to be perfect; she was just Rosey, a little white pit bull terrier-type dog who needed to be loved.”


Happy Tails at Pegasus, Utah                               
Adoptions: 1 dog; no change in fees

Couple with brown dogSometimes life reminds us how small this world really is. According to co-founder Jaime Topham, one of the favorite adoptions from the weekend event was of Cooper, a sweet and goofy hound mix who went home with a couple named Gordon and Sharon Hall after a trial placement. “As they were getting ready to leave, we discovered that Gordon flew helicopters in the military with my dad and knew me as a little girl,” Jaime says. “We all reminisced for a few moments, talking about the adventures Gordon and my dad had flying. We went from strangers who shared a love for a dog, to long-time family friends reunited by the love a dog. We are so grateful to know Copper is in great hands with people we have known since childhood.” 

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Liz with cat

Liz Finch
Senior Writer
Best Friends Network

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