Something unexpected and heartwarming happened last weekend: A shelter that previously held hundreds of animals became completely empty as every single rescued dog or cat found a new home and second chance at life.

And the beautiful thing is, it all happened in one weekend.

The massive adoption event was hosted by The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)  in Sanford, North Carolina after nearly 700 animals were rescued from heart-wrenching conditions. This happened during a raid of an unlicensed facility in Raeford, North Carolina, in January.

ASPCA says that on March 18th nearly 3,500 people came out to their temporary shelter to show love and support for these previously neglected animals. At one point, at least 300 people were in line, waiting to take home a new furry friend. Groups of 50 at a time were guided to a shaded tent where they filled out adoption applications. A bell rang out every time an adoption was made to celebrate that animal’s second chance at a loving home.

And even some very special animals, who may have had a difficult time finding a home elsewhere, were welcomed with open arms to new families. This includes Emma, a white-and-tan hound mix who suffers from chronic ear infections, and Owen, an older dog with heartworm. Owen was the last dog to be adopted and received a round of applause as he and his new owner went home together for the first time. On Saturday, the last cat, Avocado, went home with a couple in honor of their twelfth wedding anniversary.

 

Emma, a special needs dog, found her forever home at the event!
Emma, a special needs dog, found her forever home at the event!

 

Owen, a heartworm positive dog, receiving his applause as the last dog to leave.
Owen, a heartworm positive dog, receiving his applause as the last dog to leave.

 

“It’s exciting to put positive closure to this,” said Tim Rickey, Vice President of the ASPCA’s Field Investigation and Response team. “We’ve cared for these animals for seven weeks, and their moods have shifted dramatically. They went from not feeling well—some in critical condition—to being treated and cared for and are now happy and healthy, both physically and emotionally.”

 

This event proves that incredible things can happen when communities come together, and when people believe they can make a monumental difference in the lives of people and animals alike.

 

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According to research from the ASPCA, about 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters throughout the United States every year. Only 2.7 million of them are adopted. Has this story inspired you to welcome a new family member into your home?

To read more about the event and watch heartwarming video footage, click here!

Photo Credit: ASPCA