Our 2nd Adopt-a-thon: Inspired by Joplin, ASPCA
Amazed. That word best describes the way I felt a little over a year ago, standing in a temporary building erected to house hundreds of dogs in Joplin, Missouri just days after a nearly-mile-wide deadly tornado devastated the city.
My colleagues from the Washington Animal Rescue League and I joined legions of dedicated volunteers from around the world to help organize and run a two-day, ASPCA-sponsored adopt-a-thon. We were charged with finding new homes and families for hundreds of pets who had lost theirs in the tragic event.
Long hours and difficult conditions went unnoticed as we worked and witnessed something incredible and heartwarming unfold among the horrific and heartbreaking storm wreckage. I was touched by the generosity and compassion of the people who traveled from 24 states to save the lives of helpless, traumatized animals.
That weekend we found new homes for 745 animals—a remarkable feat! It was truly the most memorable experience of my 10-year career in animal welfare.
Heroic efforts and incredible deeds often emerge from tragedy, but natural disasters are not necessary to inspire great actions. Every single day in shelters around the world there are countless animals desperately in need of loving homes.
After the Joplin experience my colleagues and I had a new perspective on what was possible. We knew that with hard work we could place more animals from our shelter into loving homes. I was confident that we could recreate the Joplin effort here in Washington, and so that is what we did.
Last year the League participated in the ASPCA Challenge to save more lives and we held our first ever Adopt-a-thon at WARL. We kept our doors open for 33 hours straight and found new homes for 113 animals in a single weekend. Yes, it was a very big job and many made sacrifices to make the event a success, but saving over a hundred lives in a weekend is priceless.
We are not participating in the ASPCA Challenge this year, but there is never a shortage of homeless animals in the DC area, especially at this time of year. We frequently receive calls each summer from our partner shelters; they ask for our help because they are inundated with more dogs, cats, puppies and kittens than they can practically care for. We take on as many transfers as we can, and currently have over 200 animals in our shelter, waiting for new homes—and that is all the inspiration we needed to organize our second Adopt-a-thon at WARL.
The organizers and adopters who traveled to Joplin last year are heroes to the animals they saved. Please join us in our efforts to keep the spirit of that unforgettable event going strong at the Washington Animal Rescue League. If you would like to add a loving canine or feline companion to your home, please come to the League on Saturday, August 11th. From noon until 5 p.m. we will have experienced adoption counselors on hand to match you up with the perfect dog or cat.
More details can be found online at: warl.org/adoptathon
Natalie Kahla is the League’s Adoptions Manager.