Lines extended down the sidewalk in front of the Lawrence Humane Society on Saturday morning with people waiting to take part in the free adoption day, when a total of 104 cats and dogs found new homes.
A spillover parking area was set up across the street in a grass lot, and long lines continued later that afternoon as people waited to check out and adopt their new pets.
Coty Stoneking, along with his girlfriend Jordin Burford, stood outside of the entrance as much of the crowd dispersed. They were waiting for Stoneking’s new cat, Amigo, a 14-pound longhaired tortoiseshell, to be brought to them by a humane society volunteer.
Stoneking said he was not considering getting a new cat until he heard about the Lawrence Humane Society waiving its adoption fees for the day. These fees can range anywhere from the $10 Thursday special for cats to $500 for some puppies.
“I honestly didn’t think I was going to come here and adopt,” Stoneking said. “But I decided it was something good to do.”
Dori Villalon, executive director of the Lawrence Humane Society, said she decided to waive fees for the day to kick off the shelter’s participation in the ASPCA Rachel Ray $100k Challenge, a competition between 50 animal shelters nationwide. The competition ends Aug. 31, and it encourages shelters to break personal records with the number of dogs and cats adopted.
Last summer, the Lawrence shelter adopted out 859 animals. The goal for this summer is 1,500: a number Villalon said would be a true challenge.
“My feeling is that we have this shelter, we have great staff, we have great operations — let’s move as many animals as we can through here,” she said. “We know how to run a shelter, so we want to save these animals that might be facing euthanasia in other shelters in Kansas.”
In order to reach the goal, Villalon said, the shelter plans to host microchip clinics to more easily reunite lost animals with their homes. Villalon is also planning to transfer dogs to the Denver area, where three shelters are requesting them. And, because the free adoption day exceeded her expectations with more than 100 animals leaving the shelter, she would like to waive fees again before the summer is over.
“It’s been phenomenal,” she said. “On a regular Saturday, we usually have 20 adoptions.”
It was also a good day for all of the people, like Stoneking, who received new pets. As Stoneking and Burford waited to take their new pet home, they chatted about how well they thought the old animals would get along with the new cat, whom they chose because he was large, fluffy and liked being petted.
“I have two dogs and one cat: Hooch, Jacks and Dottie,” Stoneking said.
“And now Amigo,” Burford added.