The Williamson County Animal Shelter over the weekend was able to achieve a total of 63 adoptions of dogs and cats after offering 100 free adoptions as part of an initiative to challenge the community to help with overcrowding at the shelter.
"We had a really great weekend with 63 adoptions," said Misty Valenta, community programs coordinator at the shelter. "During the same time, 40 animals came into the shelter. That puts our outcomes higher than our intakes - which is fantastic!" Valenta said.
Last Saturday and Sunday, people could adopt animals at two locations: the animal shelter's main building on 1855 SE Inner Loop in Georgetown and inside a Petco at 5001 U.S. Highway 183A in Cedar Park.
Over the weekend, most of the animals were adopted at the main location, and only one - a dog - was taken in from the Petco location.
"The dogs were a wash with the intakes, so we are still a little over capacity," Valenta said. She added that, even though 44 of the adopted animals were cats and kittens, thus alleviating some overcrowding in the cat and kitten section of the adoption center, there were still some that needed fostering or adoption.
"We are still full," she said.
The free adoptions - paid for by the non profit Petco Foundation - began at 11 a.m. on Saturday with each adopter receiving a gift for their help. The gifts included the choice of two different cat toys for those that adopted cats or kittens, and for dog adopters a collar or bandanna made by a local online pet clothing store called Puppy Power Boutique.
"This is a very pet friendly city. During our 15 years of residence, we've adopted several dogs and cats from the local shelters. We appreciate the efforts of all the shelters and wanted to do something for the shelter community," said Patricia Sealy, who founded Puppy Power Boutique with her sister Karen.
The money to pay for the free adoptions came from a surprise donation by the Petco Foundation of $900,000 that the shelter received on February 13 this year.
Valenta said that the facility is getting that donation in chunks over the course of three years, with $300,000 of the funds obtained this year.
"As part of that funding, Petco wants us to promote adoptions. And so, part of the grant funding, the grant that was awarded to the shelter, is going to subsidize those adoption fees," Valenta said.
The adoption challenge came as another wave of overcrowding inundated the shelter's facilities due to severe thunderstorms, Fourth of July fireworks and other external issues.
"We are just overwhelmed with the amount of animals that we are receiving," Valenta said on Friday, before the weekend initiative.
On Monday, Valenta said the challenge was a success for the shelter.
"Watching social media, I read about families who have been thinking about adopting and when they saw our promotion decided that now was the time," she said.
“We are so grateful to the Petco Foundation, and we are happy to share this grant with our adopters by providing free adoptions to loving homes,” said Animal Services Director Cheryl Schneider in a statement released on Thursday.
Editor's note: this story has been updated to add information on what happened with the initiative over the weekend, including statements from the community programs coordinator.