A joyful moment captured at a previous National Adoption Week (Photo courtesy of PetSmart Charities).
Happy National Adoption Week! The occasion commences today, February 28, 2022, and runs through March 6, 2022. PetSmart Charities has collaborated with a multitude of animal welfare organizations across the nation and Canada to offer adoptable dogs, cats, and small animals such as gerbils, guinea pigs, and beyond to PetSmart locations.
According to data from the Best Friends Animal Society,1 there are approximately 100,000 more shelter dogs and cats in the United States awaiting adoption than there were during this time last year. This, coupled with the recent surge in the Omicron variant, which has led to a reduction in staff, volunteers, and adoption events, has demonstrated that shelter pets are in need of forever homes now more than ever.
What makes National Adoption Week stand out?
In an interview with dvm360®, Steve Kaufman, senior manager of adoption initiatives at PetSmart Charities, shared that the organization supports adoption every day at PetSmart locations. However, National Adoption Week is significant because it provides its partners with special grants enabling them to offer more animals at PetSmart for adoption than during a normal week. Thus, this bigger, eye-catching event promotes the most visibility possible for these pets.
“Shelters and rescues right now are experiencing intake levels that they haven't seen in quite a long time…so this can put a big strain on the resources they have available to care for the pets that they have,” Kaufman said.
“So National Adoption Week really gives the local animal shelters and rescues an opportunity to reach a very large audience and have the support of national advertising and promotion because of our partnership with PetSmart,” he continued.
A man’s best friend
Kaufman recounted that at a previous National Adoption Week event, a strong, big gentleman with a long beard showed up at 5 am to be first in line. Recently having lost his Rottweiler of 10 years, the man was eager to adopt a Rottie mix that he knew would be at PetSmart that day. When he completed his adoption, the store erupted with applause.
“People were clapping and it was really because [the man] kind of broke down. I mean, he hugged this animal. This is a big, burly guy and he's in tears hugging this new pet,” Kaufman said. “And it's just 1 of those moments that [showed] what this is all about. It just shows the power of animals, that it doesn't matter if it’s the biggest, burliest, toughest guy or the smallest—animals are so impactful.”
Jeanine Foucher, executive director of Acadiana Animal Aid (AAA), a non-profit Humane Society located in Lafayette, Louisiana, that partners with PetSmart Charities during National Adoption Week, also highlighted the unique opportunities this event presents in an interview with dvm360®.
“[Acadiana Animal Aid is] actually in [PetSmart] every single solitary weekend adopting out cats, but the National Adoption Week gives us an opportunity to bring dogs to the store as well. Our animals have a chance to be seen by a completely different demographic, people who might be shopping, and don't want to travel out to the shelter, [and] want to stay more in town,” Foucher explained.
“It gives people a chance to see our dogs, not in a shelter, not behind a gate, not behind a fence and interact and really kind of see them in a way that we hope will provide them with a bigger picture of who they are as a pet,” she added.
A life-changing cat
Foucher told the story of a cat named Bindi who was at Acadiana Animal Aid for about 20 days and no one seemed to have any interest in her. However, when Bindi arrived at a National Adoption Week event, she was quickly adopted by a woman who had never had a cat before, yet instantly fell in love with this feline. To this day, the cat parent regularly posts updates about her beloved companion animal online in the Acadiana Animal Aid adopter group.
“[The woman who adopted Bindi] said, ‘I had no idea how cool a cat could be.’ She works from home [and] it’s her constant companion,” Foucher shared.
“I think the thing that's been so heartwarming is to see how it's changed her life. It's completed her family, and she can't talk enough about this cat. We feel so happy that Bindi, who's an awesome cat and was being overlooked in the shelter, had an opportunity to be seen during a National Adoption Week."
The best part of the event
According to Kaufman, his favorite aspect of National Adoption Week is the fun, joyful atmosphere. “I personally get the honor and privilege of watching thousands of animals go into new homes and create new families. The personal experiences for me, are the ones of just that—pure happiness, that raw emotion, when you're first getting your new pet, it's authentic, it's genuine. It's insanely rewarding,” he expressed.
Foucher noted that during this week, she enjoys various groups uniting at the store including volunteers, those fostering pets, potential adopters, and more to achieve the same fulfilling mission of helping animals find a home.
What’s new this year?
Kaufman divulged that as part of this year's National Adoption Week, PetSmart Charities is hosting bilingual events at 2 stores—one in McAllen, Texas, and the other in Harlingen, Texas. These communities have a high Latino population, and through this initiative, the organization will strive to provide everyone equitable access to adopting a pet by removing language barriers.
Various ways to participate in National Adoption Week
For those not looking to adopt a pet, Kaufman urged them to visit the PetSmart locations during National Adoption Week as well. “I think everyone could use a little [love and joy] right now. Even when you're not looking for a pet and you already have a pet, I encourage people to come out and walk around the store and just see what pets bring into peoples’ lives. This [event] is a great example of that.”
Along with adopting, Foucher shared that additional ways to help save animal lives during this occasion and beyond include volunteering at shelters, donating, or fostering.
Animal shelter crisis 2022: 100,000 more shelter pets at risk of being killed now than this time last year due to pandemic problem. News release. Best Friends Animal Society. January 26, 2022. Accessed February 28, 2022. https://bestfriends.org/about/media/shelter-crisis-2022