COLUMBIA, Md. – Dozens of abandoned puppies displaced during Hurricane Harvey’s destructive run through Texas were adopted Saturday by Maryland residents who flocked to the local PetSmart store.
The Last Chance Animal Rescue of Waldorf hosted the “Puppypalooza” adoption event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“It was a hugely successful event,” said shelter Director Cindy Sharpley. “I think there are only two or three dogs left.”
The animals arrived at the shelter about two weeks ago after the hurricane tore through Texas and Louisiana, displacing 30,000 people and requiring 17,000 rescues. In addition to canines, the shelter accepted 15 cats, 10 rabbits and a couple of ferrets, said Sharpley. Although shelter space became a problem, she said her worries ended quickly.
“The outpouring of support from the community was mindboggling,” said Sharpley. “Hundreds of people apply to adopt or foster.”
Despite temperatures reaching into the upper 80s on Saturday, crowds of people gathered at Snowden Court, the PetSmart location, underneath a large white tent to play with the furry friends and fill out adoption papers with the dozens of volunteers dressed in bright blue shirts. The volunteers decorated the area with balloons and tables filled with boxes of doughnuts.
One child beamed brightly when his mother placed a leash in his tiny hand.
“Let’s go!” he squealed as he led his new best friend to the car.
A PetSmart official said that the retail chain has facilitated 6,884 adoptions at the Columbia location, and that Maryland has granted their charity more than $6 million.
Sharpley said that the Last Chance Animal Rescue administers vaccines to all of the animals they house, especially those from the hurricane areas. She said they wanted to assure pet adopters that the animals were free of mange, worms and kennel cough. Early news reports cited risks of increased foodborne and waterborne illnesses caused by contaminations during disasters.
“Each and every one of them has a health certificate,” Sharpley said. “They have to be examined before taken out of state.”
To foster a dog for a few weeks, the shelter provides all the medical services, as well as the food, toys, snacks and a crate free of charge. Adopters pay $375 for a microchip, vaccines and to have the animal spayed or neutered, she said.
The shelter expects to receive hundreds more dogs and about 120 cats that had been living in Florida shelters before Hurricane Irma made landfall there last week.
“We’re always looking for volunteers!” said Sharpley, who operates two shelters in the Washington, DC area.