Proven Strategies

Mom, Dad, and two children with their newly adopted dog

Second National Adoption Weekend results in nearly 10,000 animals finding new homes

We were excited about the results of our May National Adoption Weekend – after all, the three-day event drew the involvement of more than 300 partners and 4,529 dogs and cats went to new homes. So you can imagine how much more excited we were (perhaps doubly so?) to see the results of the second such event we hosted this year, which saw more than twice the number of animals get adopted!

Such success really shouldn’t be so surprising since we know that the various components comprising the adoption weekend – some groups offered reduced or waived adoption fees; many implemented fun, creative marketing; and others promoted them as special events – are proven to lead to increased traffic and more animals going into homes. Indeed, the fact that so many dogs and cats walked away in the arms of new families is why we stress that rescues and shelters shouldn’t pass up any such opportunities throughout the year.

And because we like to sing the praises of our Best Friends Network Partners whenever we get the chance, here are some of the most encouraging, impressive and touching results from July’s event. Who knows? They might even be enough to motivate your organization to take part (or take part again) next time around!

Success by the numbers

  • A total of 9,919 animals were adopted over those three days from 589 participating organizations (plus Best Friends Animal Society’s sanctuary and lifesaving centers). That’s a 73% increase in total adoptions compared to the same period last year, though the increase was even greater for dogs at 89%.a family with their newly adopted fuzzy orange kitten 
  • Though it wasn’t required, 73% of network partners chose to reduce or waive their adoption fees. And since we once again offered stipends for every adoption ($50 per cat and $100 per dog this time around), we ended up distributing nearly $700,000 (as compared to $178,000 for the first event, which was co-sponsored by Bounty)! 
  • Best Friends invested $300,000 on digital advertising in partner communities, which got more than 40 million impressions for audiences local to our partners, driving adopters directly to them. 
  • The following groups had the highest number of adoptions:

A handful of happy outcomes

Though we are clearly impressed by the numbers from the event, the stories shared by participating partners had an even greater impact on our staff. Many participating partners noted that the event promotion brought in new adopters, which helped them find homes for long-time and harder-to-place pets. Others shared some truly touching tales that I admit had me getting a little misty-eyed.

Here are just a few stories shared by event participants:

  • While the City of Ames Animal Shelter and Animal Control in Iowa only did two adoptions during the event, they proved to be very special. One of them was their longest resident cat, the other an FIV-positive cat. The adoptions were so special, in fact, the shelter decided to waive adoption fees entirely instead of simply cutting them in half, which was the original plan. 

    “While we didn't do the number of adoptions we'd hoped we would, the two we did do were very exciting for us,” says animal control clerk Abbey Weimann. “While getting quantity of animals out of the building is always helpful for us and the animals, seeing animals leave who have been passed over time and again go to really good homes made it worth it!” 
     two adopted orange cats 
  • Bossier City Animal Services (BCAS) in Louisiana was one of many network partners who told us about the long-term residents adopted during the event. One of the dogs who found a new home from BCAS was Gilly, whom the shelter describes as “a plain, slightly scared, black and white Lab/Border Collie who had come in pregnant in November 2021.” Gilly’s 10 puppies were adopted long ago, but this sweet girl who loves to snuggle and play still waited for someone to take her home. 

    “For the last couple of months we had a family looking for the right dog to be with their kids, particularly their autistic child, but they had always overlooked Gilly,” says Shari Wood, BCAS’s superintendent. “This time, they came in and asked who we recommended they try. We ran through a few names and our adoption counselor said Gilly. When she did, we just knew that was right.” 

    The family took Gilly home and called the shelter not long after to say they absolutely loved her and wanted to make the adoption final. 

    “She gets along great with all the kids, but especially takes care of the autistic child,” Shari says. “We couldn't be more thrilled for all of the animals who got adopted during the event, but especially the ones who nobody wanted for so long. Gilly is a perfect example of what it can mean to save the life of an animal even when they have been in shelter for a while. I'm not sure how long it would've been before we found their child the perfect fit without her.” 
     adopted black dog and her new owner 
  • Speaking of long-term residents who finally got adopted during this three-day event, Humane Society of Greenwood, South Carolina, shared a sweet story about Tuck, who had spent 302 days at the shelter – making him their longest-stay dog. 

    “He's a big guy, with a lot of love to give his new family; he just needed someone to give him a chance,” says director of operations Samantha Brooks. “When his new family saw that we were letting adopters name their own adoption fees, they came in and wanted to meet our longest-stay dogs. The family immediately fell in love with Tuck and said they know he was meant to be a part of their family, that they could feel it.” 
     Adopted dog with new family


  • Give a Dog a Home Rescue in Sebec, Maine, likewise saw firsthand how reducing adoption fees can help make it possible for a family to take home a new pet. The lucky adoptee in this case was Persia, a young Russian blue kitty who originally came from an Alabama shelter with her five two-week-old kittens. She caught the eye of a family that lives on the Maine/Canada border and had recently lost their 20-year-old cat. 

    “The teenage daughters were struggling with the loss,” says Jenny Cope, the organization’s president and founder. “The family lived a nearly three-hour drive one way, and with the increasing cost of fuel making decisions like this difficult, our reduced adoption fee helped to justify the long drive. They arrived at the rescue on Friday afternoon and after meeting Persia in person, felt she was even better than she seemed in the pictures and videos online, and we were excited to be able to formalize the adoption.” 
     Russian blue cat with kittens 
  • Scruffy Tails Humane Society in Crookston, Minnesota, adopted five cats and two dogs, but shelter manager Nicole Heskin also told us about the most exciting outcome of the weekend: 

    “A woman who adopted a dog named Harper also covered the adoption fee of Moira, another dog who was being adopted at the same time,” Nicole says. “Additionally, she donated an extra $520 to our organization to help us with our costs and supplies!” 
     gray dog 
  • Reduced fees at Tejas Rescued Pet Adoptions in San Antonio, Texas, not only helped the organization adopt out nine cats and six dogs, but one of those dogs went to a retired couple whose love of purebred Chow Chows meant they previously acquired their pets from breeders. 

    man and woman with a newly adopted chow dog“Since the couple had adopted only from breeders in the past, they never realized that rescues get purebred animals all the time,” says Tejas’ director Tonette Webb. “They could not afford to pay the amount the breeders wanted and had been looking and looking for a female like the one they had with no luck. 

    “The couple was despondent but decided to try a few rescues and see what Chows they had in their programs and surprise! We had a female cream Chow who had no papers, but just by looking at her you could see she was purebred,” she adds “With reduced adoptions fees to boot. Everyone was happy!” 
  • Helping Hands Humane Society, Inc., (HHHS) in Topeka, Kansas, reduced its fees and did 40 adoptions over the weekend. man holding the leash of his newly adopted brown and white dogThe organization also applied something it learned at the recent Best Friends National Conference and was able to find a home for one of their long-time canine residents. 

    “One of the ideas we picked up at the conference was to try and change animals’ names if they weren't getting adopted,” says Grace Clinton, director of business development and special events at HHHS. “Neera had been with us over 100 days and as much of a perfect girl as she is, she just wasn't getting adopted.” 

    So the organization had volunteers vote on a new name for Neera and re-christened her Penny. HHHS also used her in the cover photo of its Best Friends marketing materials. The strategy worked. “On Friday the 22nd, a gentleman stopped by to meet Penny and on Saturday he came back and adopted her!” Grace says. “We are so excited for this sweet girl and are very grateful that we got to help her find her forever home! 
  • Last but most definitely not least is this touching story from Animal Mission in Columbia, South Carolina. According to executive director Jen Coody, Ally is a sweet, young black and white pup who has had a rough go in her short life. For more than three years, she lived in the yard behind a warehouse with very little protective cover and almost no human interaction. She also produced many litters of puppies during that time. 

    black and white dog in the lobby of an animal shelter“Although the owner of the business next door called local animal control repeatedly over the years, there was legally nothing they could do to intervene,” Jen says. “In the meantime, the neighbor even cut a hole in the fence that separated the two properties so that he could sneak in and give Ally blankets, because she was often covered in a layer of frost during the winter. The man made sure she had food and water, even when the dog's owner repeatedly threatened him for trespassing.” Finally, however, the stars aligned in Ally’s favor. Animal control was able to confiscate her from her owner for neglect, then her legal hold period expired – on the Saturday of the event weekend, when someone very special was waiting for her. 

    “Her new life started that Saturday,” Jen says. “The paperwork was signed and Ally hopped into the car of the same man who had been sneaking under the fence to care for her the last three years.”

I can’t think of a better way to wrap up this recap than to wish Ally her happiest-ever-after – and to wish the same to the 9,918 other animals who met their matches during our July National Adoption Weekend.

Check out our proven strategies on intake to learn more. 

Liz Finch - Best Friends Animal Society

Liz Finch 
Senior Writer 
Best Friends Network

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