Dearborn — The Empty the Shelters free adoption event last weekend placed thousands of animals in shelters with new owners, organizers said Sunday. 

More than 2,650 pets from 112 shelters in the United States found homes during the event Saturday, according to preliminary reporting numbers from the Bissell Pet Foundation, which sponsored the event. In Michigan, 752 dogs, 659 cats and 26 “other” animals were adopted, according to the numbers Bissell released Sunday.

Elaine Greene, the executive director of Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit in Dearborn, which participated, said the event wiped their cages clean. 


“We had a line down before we even opened at 7:30 a.m. this morning,” Greene said Saturday. “It’s been packed all day and we don’t have any dogs left.”

The shelter started with 19 dogs and 18 cats, and by 3 p.m. Saturday, all but five cats were adopted. Greene said many came during the week outside of the free event because they didn’t want to miss out on the selection of animals. 

“Before today, we had 24 adoptions this week saying they couldn’t wait until Saturday,” she said. “We do have a few who are still here that came this week and are not adoptable yet.”

This year, 111 locations in 14 states  participated in Empty the Shelters. The event by the Grand Rapids nonprofit Bissell  paid all adoption fees Saturday.

This year, 111 locations in 14 states are participated in Empty the Shelters on Saturday. The event is sponsored by the Grand Rapids nonprofit Bissell Pet Foundation, which paid all adoption fees during the event.

The Dearborn shelter also showcased a few recent rescues who are recovering from recent abuse, like Phoenix. The three-year-old mix breed was found by Dearborn police burned multiple times by an abuser and abandoned on Dearborn's east side on April 14. 

Greene said Phoenix is very kind despite being abused. 


“We are absolutely overjoyed knowing that thousands of pets will sleep peacefully in loving homes for the very first time tonight,” said founder Cathy Bissell.

Each shelter and rescue taking part had to follow standard adoption procedures to ensure pets were “adopted into the right homes,” according to the Bissell foundation.

Nationwide, 2.7 million pets are euthanized each year, the foundation said. Of the pets in family homes, 23 percent of dogs and 31 percent of cats come from an animal shelter or humane society, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The Dearborn shelter also showcased recent rescues who are recovering from  abuse, like Phoenix. The 3-year-old mix breed was found by Dearborn police on the city’s east side April 14, burned and abandoned. 

Greene said Phoenix is  kind despite being abused. 

“Cruelty to animals makes us sick. Our staff has named the dog Phoenix because we want to see her rise again,” Greene said.

Families who adopt animals received an AdoptBox filled with a 5-pound bag of pet food donated by Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food, plus treats, toys, wellness information and coupons.

Corona Osborn of White Lake Township said she loves cats and found her perfect one at the shelter. 

“She’s so precious and I wanted to adopt all of them ... Something told me it was time for a cat and I was able to come, apply and leave here with her all in one day so it was great,” said Osborn, 18.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_

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