Rhino, a 6-year-old American pit bull terrier, has been at the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control shelter in Phoenix since mid-July.

On Saturday, he had a chance to find a loving home, for free. In Rhino’s online profile, he’s being held by his collar. He looks worried.

But at the shelter, the white and gray pup was gentle and loving. Anytime someone approached Rhino’s pen, he looked up at them and licked their hands. 

The Maricopa County Animal Care and Control shelters, located in Phoenix and Mesa, hosted free adult pet adoptions on Saturday as part of the national “Clear the Shelter” day. The event aims to alleviate overcrowded shelters and minimize the number of animals that are euthanized.

People on social media posted photos of their new four-legged adopted family member.

Officials said the “Clear the Shelter” free adoptions is likely to continue through Sunday, depending on how many pets find a home Saturday.

The county’s two shelters have a little less than 1,000 pets that need to be adopted, according to the MCACC’s Facebook page. 

Adult pets are considered to be at least 7 months old. Younger pets are still the traditional adoption price. 

Volunteers make the events possible and help the shelters run in the months when they are overflowing with animals in need of a home.

Lisa Cummings has been volunteering at the Phoenix shelter almost every weekend for two and a half years. She says the free adoption events can happen as often as once a month.

“Usually we have a line out the door that doesn’t stop moving,” Cummings says.

The pets that are available to be adopted are typically scared and anxious, she said, which is why it is important to have volunteers who can make the adoption process run smoothly and ease animals’ fears.

‘It makes you want to cry’

Nothing is better than seeing a dog in danger of being euthanized find a family.

“Volunteering here is the most rewarding thing ever,” Cummings said. “If there is a dog whose days are numbered, all the volunteers get together and market the dog out. It makes you want to cry when you see a dog getting adopted and finally being able to go home.” 

Hundreds of people come through the shelter’s doors in hopes of finding a new pet.

Newcomer Kristen Parker heard about the event via social media. She says she is looking to find a dog to join her two cats. 

“Adopt, don’t shop all the way,” she said. “It should be a law that until the shelters are all clear, no more breeding.”

MCACC also hosts regular “Empty the Shelter” events, which also feature free pet adoptions. Collars, leashes and other toys are discounted as well.

The May Empty the Shelter event found homes for 236 dogs and cats, while the July event found homes for 234 cats and dogs.

The shelters are located at: 2500 S. 27th Ave., Phoenix, and 2630 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Mesa.

To volunteer: https://www.maricopa.gov/294/Volunteer.

To adopt a pet: https://www.maricopa.gov/214/Adopt-a-Pet.

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