Rescue animals find new homes through National Pet Adoption Weekend


Saya Deshpande

A little girl pets a bunny from the South Bay Rabbit Rescue.

In 2010, the Friends of Madera Animal Shelter (FMAS) had to put down over 5,000 animals. In 2016, that number dropped significantly to about 1,000.

There are an estimated 70 million stray animals in the United States alone. PetSmart contributes to the salvation of these animals by hosting national adoption events every four years, 2019 being one of those years. On Nov. 9, they hosted this event at the San Carlos PetSmart from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

FMAS and the South Bay Rabbit Rescue partnered up with PetSmart to make this nonprofit pet adoption event possible. Dogs from the local shelter were taken to the event in the hopes of finding a new home. South Bay Rabbit Rescue contributed by bringing in a variety of rabbits in search of housing. 

“It’s a PetSmart charity event. We are able to partner with any type of rescue group,” said Lana Aningalan, PetSmart manager of the event.

Those interested in adopting could choose from a selection of dogs and bunnies, ranging in age and breed. At the entrance, the rabbits were held in pens to ensure that they got the space and attention needed. Meanwhile, in the back, the dogs played with customers as potential owners struggled to contain their puppy fever. 

FMAS has about 5,000 dogs in their shelters, rescuing about 2,000 a year. Their goal is to find appropriate housing for as many dogs as possible. For them, the adoption process is more than a few sheets of paper. The new owners must be interviewed to make sure they are the right for the pet.

“We work very hard to find them a new home, whether it be bringing them up here for adoptions, giving them to people back in our town, or we even take some out of state to local agencies,” said Jennifer Godfrey, a volunteer for FMAS.

FMAS partner up with PetSmart 11 times a year, taking a select group of healthy dogs to various locations for adoption. For every interested adopter, they prepare a folder with information about the pet and adoption procedures. They try to get as many pets as possible adopted. 

Although most get adopted, few pets are not as lucky. 

“I learned that a lot of people actually are only interested in puppies, and most people kind of didn’t pay attention to the older dogs who are abandoned in the shelter,” said Angela Tams, who adopted a 12-year-old Choritto after seeing that he had not been taken at the last adoption event. 

In a more unfortunate case, FMAS is forced to euthanize the animals.

“When our shelter gets too full, we have no choice. We have to do something to bring the numbers down,” Godfrey said.

Similarly, South Bay Rabbit Rescue has 163 rabbits in their shelter with an adoption rate of about eight rabbits per weekend. They attend every National Adoption Weekend event with PetSmart and also participate in other adoption events throughout the Bay Area.

They hope to minimize and prevent animal cruelty by providing rehabilitation, sheltering, and food to rabbits in the South Bay. They hold adopters accountable for taking adequate care of the rabbits.

“We watch you interact with our rabbits. We decide whether or not you’re able to have a rabbit. The paperwork is the formality; the interview is the process,” said Brenda Andringa, owner of South Bay Rabbit Rescue.

South Bay Rabbit Rescue is one of the few organizations to go out in the wild and take strays from the streets. Unlike others, they also work with other shelters that have rabbits who have not been adopted for eight months and with animal control on hoarding cases.

“Some of them are what we call ‘owner surrenders’ where owners come in and say, ‘I can’t have this rabbit’ for whatever reason. We don’ t care; we don’t judge. We’re not always told the truth either,” Andringa said.

The next National Pet Adoption Weekend event will take place in January of 2020.

“I think this [the adoption weekend] is great. It really gives the animals an opportunity … and hopefully find a forever home,” said Chris Ramian, one of the many pet enthusiasts who attended.