Help WETM-TV ‘Clear the Shelters!’ We hope you come out August 25 -Aug 29th, 2020, and adopt a furry friend! 

Adoption fees are waived at participating shelters, during this time only, pending application approval. Other fees may still apply.

Find Adoptable Pets in Your Area Using the ‘WeRescue’ …

An app designed to help you find the purr-fect pet to adopt is now even easier to use just in time for NBC and Telemundo’s annual Clear the Shelters initiative.

It’s the WeRescue app, which now has a dedicated tab for Clear the Shelters, allowing users to search by ZIP code to find participating rescue organizations near you. That way, you can see listings for all of the animals available for adoption.

WeRescue app | Credit: Mark Wade

There’s also a news feed feature in the app which now gives users the ability to upload pictures of their pets to share with the entire WeRescue community.

Clear the Shelters

Jun 23 Clear The Shelters 2022: What to Know to Adopt and Donate

In addition, users will be able to see photos of other people’s rescued fur babies, read their adoption stories and comment on them. It’s a fun way to connect with other pet parents about the joys of animal adoption, while also drumming up excitement about Clear The Shelters.

“The WeRescue app team is proud to support the Clear The Shelters event for the fourth year — working with dedicated rescue shelter volunteers, foster parents, and NBCUniversal Local staff across the country to find forever homes for these amazing pets,” said WeRescue CEO Mark Wade. “There’s no greater joy than seeing a happy family walk out with a new rescue pet which they will love and cherish for years to come.”

The WeRescue app can be downloaded for all iPhone and iPad devices running version iOS 15.0 and above here.

This year’s Clear the Shelters event runs from Aug. 1 through Aug. 31.

Many Unhoused People Would Choose Their Pet Over …

If you didn’t have a home, would you give up your pet to move into a shelter?

According to Pets of the Homeless, 5 to 10% of the U.S. unhoused population owns a pet, and other groups believe the percentage is even higher. Still, many homeless and domestic violence shelters across the country lack resources to provide adequate veterinary care or accommodations for pets, and don’t allow animals unless they’re service animals.

“This is an important part of sheltering homeless individuals,” said Susan Riggs, senior director of housing policy for ASPCA. “Many of them will actually refuse emergency shelters in the event that their pet can’t come with them.”

In a bid to get more unhoused people into shelter systems, a California bill could extend a 2019 program giving shelters funding for pet amenities and supplies like crates, leashes, food and veterinary care.

Some shelters in California received grants under the 2019 program, the Pet Assistance and Support Program, which the state funded with $5 million in 2019 and $10 million in 2021. Senate Bill 513, introduced by state Sen. Robert Hertzberg, would make the support program permanent, ensuring shelters have the funds they need to continue accommodating pets.

“It costs money to build out the system,” says Hertzberg. “They don’t have it. They’re trying to scrape every nickel together to just take care of folks.”

Funding the program would ensure that if someone is offered a spot in a shelter or interim housing, their pet can come, too. And getting to stay with a pet can have lasting impact on a person’s wellbeing, said Jennifer Hark Dietz, CEO of PATH, an organization that provides housing and services to unhoused Californians.

“It can help with relationships, making a connection over a pet. It can help with physical activity, reducing anxiety,” she said.

“Pets are people’s children. You wouldn’t want to leave your kids on the street. That’s the same way people feel about their pets,” says Tim Huxford, associate director at PATH. “People experiencing homelessness, they have pets for companionship, for emotional support.”

The bill is in the state Assembly at the moment, but Hertzberg is hopeful it will reach Gov. Gavin Newsom‘s desk to be signed into law, and take effect in 2023.

“It’s a very inexpensive, humane and appropriate way to get people off the streets,” added Hertzberg, a Democrat who represents the eastern San Fernando Valley. “It’s common sense.”

An amendment to the bill expanded its scope to allow domestic violence shelters to receive grants and make their facilities pet-ready, too. Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness among women.

Another amendment added funding to cover training, spaying and neutering, and behavioral help for the pets.

“The ultimate goal is to get both the pets and the people sustainably and permanently housed,” Riggs said. “We want to make sure that if the pets have been living on the street for a long period of time, that they are getting the training they need to adapt to living indoors.”

Reducing barriers to housing

California has tried to curb the number of homeless encampments that have cropped up in recent years, which have been subject to complaints from residents. Research shows encampments tend to form when there is an insufficient supply of affordable housing, and when shelter rules or conditions aren’t compatible with the clients.

Pet care policies in shelters were cited in a HUD report as one potential reason that some unhoused people preferred encampments.

The Venice Beach site of the “A Bridge Home” program in Los Angeles opened with pet owners in mind. PATH operates the interim housing facility, which is aimed to be a step prior to permanent housing. It features a dog run and pet relief area, and local veterinarians make onsite visits or provide transport to their offices.

“It really shows that if you can provide all the wraparound services, that you really can help people go from the streets and into a home of their own,” said Hark Dietz.

With $600,000 from the first rounds of state funding lessening reliance on philanthropy or partners to pay for pet care, PATH is expanding pet care to more people at other sites, whether they have a dog, a cat or a lizard.

“We need to be able to continue to keep our unhoused neighbors with their companions,” said Hark Dietz. “And we want to reduce any reason to say ‘no’ to come inside.”

Higher Housing Costs Force More Pet Owners to Surrender …

What to Know
  • A survey by pet care site Rover found that to adjust for increasing prices, pet parents are trading down on things like food, treats and accessories for their dogs.
  • In some cases, owners have been forced to say goodbye to their four-legged best friends.
  • Shelters across the country are hearing from more pet owners that they’ve been forced to surrender their animals due to housing or financial constraints.

Lisa Spillman can’t imagine life without her dog, an 8-year-old chihuahua mix named Rosebud. But she says her household expenses were getting tough to handle.

“Everything – rent, groceries, dog food… it’s all going really high,” Spillman, 52, told CNBC.

And she’s not alone.

According to a new survey conducted by pet care site Rover, the majority of pet parents say they are spending more on their animals than they were six months ago. More than 90% of pet parents in the U.S. say they have noticed an increase in pet-related costs due to inflation, up from 71% who said the same in January, according to the survey.

Rover also found that to adjust for increasing prices, pet parents are trading down on things like food, treats and accessories for their dogs. 

In some cases, owners have been forced to say goodbye to their furry best friends.

Spillman, who lives in Tucson, was forced to move after rent skyrocketed nearly 40%. Her only option was a place that wouldn’t take dogs.

“Losing my baby, who loves me so much, hurt very much,” Spillman said.

Pima Animal Care Center in Tucson is hearing more often from pet owners that they’ve been forced to surrender their animals because of housing concerns, such as eviction or lack of affordable housing, according to shelter Director Monica Dangler. A year ago, housing-related surrenders made up 6% of the shelter’s surrenders — now, they make up 18%.

CNBC

Dogs waiting to be adopted inside Pima Animal Care Center in Tucson, Arizona.

“It’s staggering. And it’s, you know, sad that people are having to surrender due to things outside of their control due to inflation and the rising market costs for housing,” Dangler said.

While the number of animals entering shelters has decreased more than 14% since before the pandemic, shelters across the U.S. are still overwhelmed with animals, according to Shelter Animals Count, which tracks animal sheltering across the country. So far this year, 6% more animals have entered shelters than have left, according to the organization.   

“Many shelters report in recent months that the reasons people are needing to give up their animals has changed,” the organization’s Executive Director, Stephanie Filer, told CNBC. “They’re now more commonly seeing issues related to housing or finances as why families – often tearfully – are forced to say goodbye to their family’s pet.”

In Kansas City, Missouri, KC Pet Project expects to take in a historic number of pets this year – 15,000 – compared with roughly 10,000 on average in recent years, according to Chief Communications Officer Tori Fugate.

“We need the community to help us get through this – through adoptions, fostering and just helping us save lives,” Fugate said. “I highly encourage you to reach out and get involved with your local shelter.”

So far in 2022, 40% of the dogs that have come into the shelter have been relinquished by their owners as a result of housing or financial constraints.

“[Families] don’t want to give up their pets, but they are coming to us as a last resort because they have no other options,” Fugate said.

CNBC

Exterior of KC Pet Project in Kansas City, Missouri

A few months ago, Veronica Gurrola had to say goodbye her two miniature schnauzers, Oreo and Cookie.

“It came to where I had to choose, you know, my kids, you know, over our pets,” Gurrola told CNBC. “Having a mortgage to pay… all of that stuff… it adds up. And it seems like everything is going up – except for, you know, pay.”

One shelter in New York City, Animal Care Centers of NYC, reported 4,567 animals were surrendered so far this year – up 22% from the same time last year.

“Due to the economy, a lot of people are needing to move to different places,” shelter Director of Marketing and Communications Katy Hansen said. “They’ve lost their job or they can no longer afford the 30% rent increase – that is one of the biggest reasons that people are having to surrender their animal.”

For some, the separation is temporary. Both Spillman and Gurrola were able to get their dogs back. 

Their local shelters have foster care programs that place dogs on a short-term basis while owners get back on their feet.

“I’m really grateful for that,” Spillman said, who now lives in a pet-friendly home in Tucson with a backyard for Rosebud. “She’s very active. She missed us a lot – as much as I missed her.”

‘Stray’ Cat Video Game Brings Some Benefits to Real …

The virtual cat hero from the new video game sensation “Stray” doesn’t just wind along rusted pipes, leap over unidentified sludge and decode clues in a seemingly abandoned city. The daring orange tabby is helping real world cats as well.

Thanks to online fundraising platforms, gamers are playing “Stray” while streaming live for audiences to raise money for animal shelters and other cat-related charities. Annapurna Interactive, the game’s publisher, also promoted “Stray” by offering two cat rescue and adoption agencies copies of the game to raffle off and renting out a New York cat cafe.

Livestreaming game play for charity isn’t new, but the resonance “Stray” quickly found from cat lovers is unusual. It was the fourth most watched and broadcast game on the day it launched on Twitch, the streaming platform said.

Viewers watch as players navigate the adventurous feline through an aging industrial landscape doing normal cat stuff — balancing on railings, walking on keyboards and knocking things off shelves — to solve puzzles and evade enemies.

About 80% of the game’s development team are “cat owners and cat lovers” and a real-life orange stray as well as their own cats helped inspire the game, one creator said.

“I certainly hope that maybe some people will be inspired to help actual strays in real life — knowing that having an animal and a companion is a responsibility,” said producer Swann Martin-Raget, of the BlueTwelve gaming studio in Montpellier, in southern France.

When Annapurna Interactive reached out to the Nebraska Humane Society to partner before the game’s launch on July 19, they jumped at the chance, marketing specialist Brendan Gepson said.

“The whole game and the whole culture around the game, it’s all about a love of cats,” Gepson said. “It meshed really well with the shelter and our mission.”

The shelter got four copies of the game to give away and solicited donations for $5 to be entered into a raffle to win one. In a week, they raised $7,000, Gepson said, with the vast majority of the 550 donors being new to them, including people donating from Germany and Malta. The company also donated $1,035 to the shelter.

“It was really mutually beneficial,” Gepson said. ”They got some really good PR out of it and we got a whole new donor base out of it.”

Annapurna also bought out Meow Parlour, the New York cat cafe and adoption agency, for a weekend, as well as donating $1,000. Visitors who made reservations could buy “Stray” themed merchandise and play the game for 20 minutes while surrounded by cats. (The game also captivates cats, videos on social media show.)

Jeff Legaspi, Annapurna Interactive’s marketing director, said it made sense for the game’s launch to do something “positively impactful and hopefully bring more awareness to adopting and not shopping for a new pet.”

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Jun 23 Clear The Shelters 2022: What to Know to Adopt and Donate

Annapurna declined to disclose sales or download figures for the game, which is available on PlayStation and the Steam platform. However, according to Steam monitor SteamDB, “Stray” has been the No. 1 purchased game for the past two weeks.

North Shore Animal League America, which rescues tens of thousands of animals each year, said it hadn’t seen any increase in traffic from the game but they did receive more than $800 thanks to a gamer.

In a happy coincidence, the shelter had just set up a profile on the platform Tiltify, which allows nonprofits to receive donations from video streams, the week the game launched. The player channeled donations to the shelter, smashing her initial goal of $200.

“We are seeing Tiltify and livestreaming as this whole new way for us to engage a whole different audience,” said Carol Marchesano, the rescue’s senior digital marketing director. Usually, though, organizations need to reach out to online personalities to coordinate livestreams, which can take a lot of work, she said.

About nine campaigns on Tiltify mention the game “Stray,” the company’s CEO Michael Wasserman said. JustGiving, which also facilitates charity livestreams, said it identified two campaigns with the game.

For his part, Gepson from Nebraska reached out to an Omaha resident who goes by the name TreyDay1014 online to run a charity livestream. Trey, who asked that his last name not be used, has two cats, one of which he adopted from the shelter.

Last week, he narrated to viewers watching live on the platform Twitch as his cat character batted another cat’s tail and danced along railings.

“If I found out my cat was outside doing this, I’d be upset,” Trey said, as his character jumped across a perilous distance. Moments later, a rusty pipe broke, sending the tabby down a gut-wrenching plunge into the darkness.

“That is a poor baby,” Trey said somberly, “but we are okay.”

A $25 donation followed the fall, pushing the amount raised by Trey for the Nebraska shelter to over $100 in about 30 minutes. By the end of four and a half hours of play, donations totaled $1,500. His goal had been to raise $200.

“This has opened my eyes to being able to use this platform for a lot more good than just playing video games,” Trey said.

To learn more about Clear The Shelters 2022 and search for adoptable pets in your area, visit cleartheshelters.com. You can also donate to your local animal shelters and rescue groups by visiting clearthesheltersfund.org.

AP business writer Matt O’Brien contributed to this report.

200 Dogs, Cats Rescued From Overpopulated Shelters …

About 200 dogs and cats from overpopulated animal shelters in Florida and Louisiana will be flown to Massachusetts and New Jersey and put up for adoption in August as part of NBCUniversal Local’s Clear The Shelters campaign

Clear The Shelters is an annual campaign to promote animal adoption and monetary donations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico during the month of August. 

Clear The Shelters 2022

Jun 23 Clear The Shelters 2022: What to Know to Adopt and Donate

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The first flight took off Tuesday with 155 at-risk cats from south Florida on board. The animals will be evaluated and receive necessary medical care before being put up for adoption at Northeast Animal Shelter and MSPCA-Angell. 

On Aug. 30, at the close of NBC’s Clear The Shelters, another 50 dogs will be flown from Louisiana to New Jersey’s Morristown Airport. The dogs will receive medical care before being put up for adoption at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center. 

The flights are in partnership with Greater Good Charities‘ Good Flights program, The Animal Rescue Site and Hill’s Pet Nutrition. 

Clear The Shelters is an annual effort with NBC and Telemundo-owned and affiliated stations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The animal adoption campaign first launched in 2015 and has helped more than 700,000 pets find homes.

You can find more information about participating animal shelters, rescues and local adoption events on ClearTheShelters.com or the Spanish-language site DesocuparlosAlbergues.com.

You can also follow Clear The Shelters on Twitter and Instagram to stay up-to-date on this year’s pet adoption and donation news:

To learn more about Clear The Shelters 2022 and search for adoptable pets in your area, visit cleartheshelters.com. You can also donate to your local animal shelters and rescue groups by visiting clearthesheltersfund.org.

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