Lisa and Jack Heston

Dog days of summer: 7-year-old Jack is cuddled by his hard working mom on the morning of Aug. 17 as they attend the Clear the Shelter event to find Jack a companion to spend his time with while Lisa is at work. Lisa arrived early to introduce Jack to some potential siblings.

There was an incredible turnout for the paw party that took place at over 1,200 animal shelters all over the United States for the ‘Clear the Shelters’ event on Saturday, Aug. 17. The second annual Hills food, shelter and love program, the ‘Clear the Shelter’ event started August of 2014. The event originated in Texas. In 2014 the event was called, ‘Empty the Shelters.’ There were originally 33 shelters who took part in the first ‘Empty the Shelter’ event. One shelter in Dallas emptied the shelter before the day was over. The event went so well that the NBC and Telemundo stations have made the decision to adopt the event and are now national sponsors of the event that has been taking place nationally for five years.

This is the third year that The Humane Society of Topeka has taken part of the event. Emmie Griess, the communications coordinator of the event held at the Topeka Humane Society, explained that Telemundo essentially broadcasts the event and encourages shelters all across the nations to participate.

“The first 25 adoptions are completely sponsored, they will be zero dollars to the first 25 families who are adopted into a home.” Griess said.

After the first 25 animals are adopted out, the shelter charges 25 dollars for any puppy or dog who is adopted and ten dollars for any cat or kitten who is adopted for the rest of the day. The event in Topeka started at 10 a.m. and had already adopted out 3 dogs and 3 cats by 11 a.m. Griess said that the Topeka location made 118 adoptions by the end of the day at last year's event.

“There were more people than that in here because not everyone got to adopt on Saturday, some had to wait until Sunday because of the processes.” Griess said.

“We didn’t have an exact estimate of how many people would be in here but we knew there’d be hundreds of people and we hoped that we’d be able to make at least 100 adoptions by the end of the day.” Griess said. There were over 700 animals in the shelter that morning.

Veterinarian Joe Cook, who graduated from KSU in the year 1986 is now the business owner and main veterinarian of the Family Pet Hospital. The hospital paid for a commercial to help advertise the Clear the Shelter event that was hosted in Topeka on Saturday, Aug. 17.

“Taking care of these animals is a hard, hard job but they need it because the pet population is something that man created.” Cook said, “I have a tremendous amount of respect for the people who work here.”

Cook described the employees at the Humane Society, “You have to have a special place in your heart to actually come work at a place like this.”

Cook and his staff, Heather Hogan, who has been employed at Cooks practice for almost 15 years, and Carla Nelson, who has been working with Cook for 22 years, were tabling at the event to thank the new adopting families with a free first exam at the hospital.

The first puppy, Tyson, who was adopted out to his new forever home by Esmerelda and Vanessa Delatorre at the event. Vanessa said, “He was the first puppy who I saw and I just knew I had to get him.” Tyson was on his way to meet his new sister, who was also adopted from the humane society three years prior.

The Wheeling family, who adopted the fifth pit bull puppy from the shelter, decided to adopt Thor as an addition to their three daughters because they fell in love with him. They drove all the way from Manhattan, Kansas to pick up a puppy who had been adopted out as they were on their way to the Topeka location, they decided to head to the shelter anyway, which is where they fell in love with Thor and took him home.

The Wheeling family adopted Thor from the Ellis foster family who has been fostering animals for almost 4 years. Jenna Ellis brought four of her foster puppies to the shelter and successfully adopted out all four puppies before noon. Jenna fosters bottle feeders. Bottle feeders are baby kitties or baby puppies who still need to be bottle fed until they are ready to be adopted out.

The grand total of adoptions nationwide since the year 2015 is 325,175. By 3:40 p.m. the adoption tracker on the Clear the Shelter homepage was 75,173 adoptions had been made from over 1,200 shelters throughout the nation.

Edited by Adam White, Jessica Galvin

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