Clear the Shelters – Stories to Inspire You

On Aug. 15, County Animal Services will join Clear the Shelters, a country-wide effort aimed at getting every shelter animal into loving homes. For that day only, Animal Services is waiving all adoption fees on its pets for qualified applicants, and that includes a spay or neuter, vaccinations, a microchip and a free veterinary exam. NBC 7 is leading the campaign locally and the County is among more than a dozen organizations participating.

Need more inspiration to adopt a pet? Enjoy these stories from residents who have already adopted a furry family member from a County animal care facility.

*Editor’s note: Some of these have been edited for brevity and clarity

It is true when they say that you don’t pick the cat, the cat picks you to be its human. This is exactly what happened when we were looking to adopt an adult cat back in December 2014 . It was at the Gaines Street shelter when a very friendly brown tabby cat named “Calder” was showing signs that he liked us very much through his kennel window – we signed the adoption forms that night.

After we took him home, we changed his name to Riley and he has been such a wonderful addition to our family. He is the most affectionate and lovable cat we ever had. He is very patient yet playful with our daughter. Riley has also been a tremendous companion in helping me heal after we lost our other cat. We are truly happy to provide Riley a loving home because he brings us so much joy as our furry family member. If you are looking for a pet companion, please consider adopting from a shelter. Riley is such a rare a gem and we would have never had found him if we didn’t check out the animal shelter first.

We adopted Serena about three years ago. We went into the shelter on a Saturday just to have a look, and after about three dogs they brought out the “staff favorite” Serena. My son instantly fell in LOVE! But we weren’t quite set on getting a dog just yet, we really needed to take time and think about it… And the more we thought about it, the more we knew Serena would complete our family! She was very sweet and kind, and she had low energy, which was perfect for us. So Monday we decided to go ahead and run to Unleashed by Petco and get all the supplies for her. Well, as we showed up to Unleashed, there was this gorgeous black and white pit bull hanging out, but looking very scared. I looked over at my husband and said “Oh my God! I’m pretty sure that is Serena!” And sure enough, when we went up to the adoption table, it was her! So, we hurriedly did all the paperwork, paid the fee, went inside and got all of the stuff she would need and the rest is history! It is amazing how fate seemed to work out that day!

Then, about a year ago, we went to the County shelter in Bonita “just to have a look” and fell in love with the kitten room. I said to my husband “let’s just take them all home!” But we knew that would be impossible and not smart. So we settled on one kitten, Rocky. Then we learned that it was buy one get one free so we pondered on a second kitten. Rocky was fostered with another kitten named Apollo. They aren’t blood brothers, but you would never know! All three of them have gotten along since the day we brought Apollo and Rocky into Serena’s home. Nowadays they cuddle with each other, they chase after each other, and most of all, they love each other! We couldn’t imagine life without them, and adopting all three were the best decisions we could have ever made! Now we just need to keep ourselves from adopting more, but it’s so hard seeing so many beautiful and sweet animals in need! Thank you for giving these furbabies a second chance at life, you all are angels!
—Shannon Grimm


My husband and I adopted Patrick in 2013 after my 16 year old lab mix rescue, Lizzie, died. John had never had a dog before and I had never had a little one, but when we saw this guy…we felt something.

The shelter was calling him Oliver, but his name is Patrick we figured out. I was amazed that was completely housebroken and crate trained from day one!

We love him to bits and are forever grateful to the County Shelter for letting us adopt him
— Janet and John Poutre

Sammie was found at a park in Hillcrest wandering around lost and terrified, and brought to the County Animal Shelter when he was only six weeks old. Within a few hours after his arrival, his future mom met and instantly fell in love with him, and literally ran to the office to adopt him. On their introduction day the following week, Sammie ran right to his new mom, wagging his tail like crazy and climbing up to cover her face with sweet puppy kisses. They’ve been inseparable for over four years now, and among other things, Sammie has grown up to become a high octane athlete who loves to play catch or repeatedly retrieve his favorite thrown ball until he has expended every last bit of energy he has before finally conceding that he’ll need a brief rest period to recharge before he can begin again. Best of all though, this lucky dog has a mom who loves and protects him with the same devotion he has for her.
Nancy Lones, on behalf of her sister Barbara Gardner

In 2006. my friend Libby and I adopted this 15-year-old, 5 lb, teacup poodle (Ragamuffin) from Animal Services for $35. During our consultation with the staff, we were warned of her medical needs, but we also were able to talk to a tech who had some great insights on her disposition and temperament. She had to have surgery to have her remaining four teeth removed and after that her tongue would hang out.

I’m happy to say she lived another five years! She was a good friend and companion to me. She was a sweet old lady and content just to sit on your lap when at home. She also loved being outside and going on walks. As the years passed, she lost her hearing and went blind but still could walk on a leash. People always thought she was a puppy because of her small size! It’s fun to have a 15-year-old puppy!!

I’m so grateful for all of the excellent work that you do to care for and protect animals in our county. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I hope you all feel appreciated for the work you do because you are!!
Rebecca Penninga and Libby Nobis

I adopted Whisper, an 8-10-year-old cattle dog mix from your Carlsbad location. I renamed her Libby Lou. She became an immediate sister to my shepherd mix, Lucy, who was 9. We loved each other for five years. She was amazing. The day I brought her home it was as though she had always lived here. Seniors are the best. I miss her so much. The picture above is the day Libby Lou came home (she’s in front of Lucy).
—Joelle Thornton

This is our Lola that we got 2 years ago from the Gaines street shelter. She is the silliest, happiest and fastest dog ever. We got her after she had been owner surrendered to the shelter. She was sweet and calm, but shy at first. Once she recovered from her spay, her personality came out! She is feisty and cuddly all the same time. She also made quick friends with our dachshund, Tucker, and they are best friends.

When we had a baby a year later, we were worried about her. She definitely likes being the center of attention, but she adapted so well. She adores our son. Thank you so much for our sweet girl!
—Heather Hudson