Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Approximately three months ago, my friend Jenn and I were talking about how to make more adoption events. Jenn is an amazing person who works with the cats at the shelter, runs the foster program, and runs most of our adopt-a-thons. She is an incredible staff member who is always looking for new ways to boost adoptions.
"What about a community center?" I suggested, as we agreed that pet stores were too small for the scope we were considering.
"Yeah, or an outside area around a community center."
"A city-owned space?"
"A park!" She said suddenly. "What about a park?"
After momentary excitement, we both agreed that the parks department would never agree - but we'd try anyway.
We got in contact with the staff at Dufferin Grove, the beautiful park across from Dufferin Mall. And to our astonishment, they were enthusiastic.
After that, things went forward at an incredible pace. Jenn and I spent the next two months frantically planning. There were hours and hours of flyering, contacting newspapers and tv stations, posting on Facebook, arranging volunteers, coming up with ideas to raise money. We decided to have a donations table, a kids' table, face-painting - it quickly ballooned past mere adoptions.
The Star article was a glorious thing that brought the event a lot of attention. Jenn covered the entire neighbourhood with brightly coloured flyers.
There were several moments of sheer panic, in particular the night before, when Jenn called me to say that the forecast was 100% thunderstorms for Saturday. We both had nervous breakdowns and completely freaked out that our months of hard work had been for nothing.
The next day we both woke up at 6 am and realized that the skies were clear. Miraculously, they would remain clear for the entire weekend.
Usually I do two posts for adopt-a-thons, but I was completely exhausted Saturday night, so you get one giant post for a giant adopt-a-thon.
After months of worry and panic and logistics, it was...everything we hoped for and more. It was truly amazing.
We must've had about 500 people come out over the two days. The park staff were amazed at the response. We were incredibly busy both days, and by Sunday night we had no voices left and were dead on our feet. But it was worth it!
Jenn's sister and niece took over our donations table and were completely amazing. They donated buckets of cat toys, made grab bags, and decorated donations tins.
I made some home-made treats that we managed to sell to all small animal adopters. Jenn makes these beautiful little mice that sell like hotcakes all year around. Our younger volunteers turned out to be incredible salespeople!
Our donations table was busy both days, and while we don't have the exact number yet, we raised over $500!
We took a few dogs each day. This little pug mix took about 5 minutes to get adopted on Saturday. The next day, her new family brought her by for a visit. They looked as though they'd been together forever already.
This incredibly handsome boy is Trail, who didn't get adopted. However, Keva the black lab and Keaton the black shepherd both found loving homes! And Trail enjoyed a lovely day out in the park.
We took two rabbits each day, and as usual I didn't expect any adoptions. As another volunteer said, the rabbits come mostly for show, and to educate people that rabbits are available. But to my astonishment, we did two adoptions!
Sassy here is one of those rabbits who are nothing special in the shelter, but at an event, she shined. She loved being on the leash and happily hopped all over the park! She even got featured on Saturday night's Global News. She was adopted Sunday morning and now has a little girl who absolutely adores her and a home where she will live free range.
We also brought Hilda, a portly Holland Lop who had been a complete jerk when she arrived at the shelter. Spaying her made a world of difference and she actually turned out to be a sweetheart. Hilda was adopted on Saturday, also to live free-range. Two rabbit adoptions!
We knew there was going to be a lot of interest in hamsters thanks to the Star article. Still, I had no idea how much interest!
On Saturday, there were three adoptions - Moria, Muppet and Roger, one baby from each litter! We actually forgot to bring boxes for people to take them home, so we were forced to improvise:
 Yes, that's Roger going home in a Timbit box. That's not even the worst one - Muppet went home in a tin foil box. At least we got boxes for Sunday!
 And good thing, too, because Sunday was hamster day. We did five adoptions - all five boys from Millie's litter (aka the famous hamsters in the Star). Sully, Sweeney, Gilbert, Billy and Fiyero all found families of their own. Their entire family cleared out in two days, save for their two sisters who are still at my house.
And then we get to the cats! We did an amazing amount of cat adoptions - NINETEEN in total! The best part was that people weren't picky about age or gender. Sure, all the kittens got adopted as usual (including Ziggy, above). But a great deal of adults also got adopted!
But the highlight of the entire weekend was one adoption. Nixie (above) was at the shelter for six months last year before being adopted - only to be dumped in a park by her adopter. She was found and brought back to the shelter, where she waited for another six months. During that time, she shared a room with Nala, who had been waiting for 8 months herself. The two became bonded. At the adopt-a-thon, they didn't sell themselves very well - just sat next to each other looking haughty.
And yet despite all odds...one amazing family adopted the two girls as a pair! After a year of waiting, Nala and Nixie had a home - and they even got to stay together. What a truly amazing adoption!
Besides Nixie and Nala, two other very long-term cats were also adopted, Miracle and Fern. All of our seriously long-timers found homes at the event. It was just a great weekend for adoptions. The photo is Pickles, another adopted cat, in the carrier on his way to his new home.
In total, we had 32 adoptions, a record for an event like this. We were also featured on Global News and in the Bloordale Press. We raised over $500.

It was everything we wanted and more. It was so worth the months of work.
I think this will lead to very good things in the future. It was bigger than we expected and I hope it paves the way for more events like this.
Now to catch up on sleep!


Anonymous said...

Bravo!!! Someone forwarded me the link to your story and I was so impressed. What excellent work you did!

Carol Hroncek said...

Sorry i meant to leave my name on my "Bravo" to you. I guess I hit "enter" before I realized. Anyways, again, brilliant job.

gracerock said...

AMAZING! I am so happy that Nixie was adopted. We were so in love with her and we still talk about that sweet grey cat at the shelter. SO glad she has a family now, and a sister, too! :D
Congratulations on the success!!

EB said...

Congratulations! That's wonderful news!

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