By Chris Stone
A Siberian Husky will trade its cage for a home Monday because its new family is fans of “Game of Thrones.”Alexandra Fernandez said she chose the dog for her parents because Huskies resemble wolves, specifically fictional direwolves in the hit HBO series.
From Hawaii to Maine to Puerto Rico, more than 61,000 animals were adopted across the country Saturday as part of Clear the Shelters Day, according to its website. Three county animal shelters took part, along with a dozen other local facilities.
Fernandez was one of hundreds of county residents who took advantage of waived adoption fees that resulted in 300 animals, including a chicken, finding new homes.
“He’s super pretty and really cute,” Fernandez said of the dog she adopted.
By 1:30 p.m., about 900 people had visited the county animal shelter on Gaines Street in Mission Valley to find a free pet — some as a result of longtime plans for a dog, others from a spur-of-the-moment decision.
Arianna Anaya, 10, of Hemet and her friend, Paloma Corona, 9, of Beaumont beamed as they held new rabbits in cardboard carriers.The bunny acquisition was a surprise reward for the young girls who earlier in the day helped pack backpacks for homeless people for Street Bundles Inc., said mother Beverly Anaya.
Because of their altruistic work, the girls’ mothers picked up the rabbits in addition to a dog they planned to get, the mother said.
The bunnies were from a breeder of show rabbits that were taken to the shelter, Anaya said, who owned a rabbit as a child and knows they need peace and quiet.
Dan DeSousa, director of the San Diego County Department of Animal Services, said last year the shelters also adopted out 300 animals. NBC7, a sponsor of the event with Telemundo, said this was the third annual Clear the Shelters Day locally.
(NBC San Diego said 739 animals were adopted in the county Saturday.)
“People are always worried that they are going to homes of people who just want to get an animal for free,” DeSousa said, but the animals go through the normal adoption and selection process.
“Our goal is to give these animals good, loving homes, and that’s what we are doing today,” the director said.
Horses were not among the free animals, he said.
The county animal shelters have special adoption events including the adopt-one-kitten-get-one-free special in May and June.
Some animals are adopted quickly; some have stayed for more than a year, DeSousa said. About 190 animals were brought to the shelters after the July 4 fireworks, with about half being reclaimed by the owners.
“Our commitment to the animal is we will not euthanize any healthy animal and we will not euthanize any animal that has a treatable medical or behavioral issue,” he said.
Many of the dogs remaining in the shelters Saturday afternoon were pit bull blends.
Shannon Castro of San Diego was drawn to the pit bulls despite her initial desire to get a small dog.“I noticed a lot of pit bulls needing homes,” Castro said, “They are loyal, wonderful dogs that get such a bad rap.”
“They’re not the vicious killers that they are made out to be,” she said while eyeing a pit bull named Judy. After looking at several others of the same breed, she chose Judy but said she probably will change her name.
Mary Jean Anderson — owner of Anderson Plumbing, Heating and Air — also had her eye on a pit bull — a 4-year-old named Amelia.
Her company helped sponsor the event, and she fell for the white dog.
“She looked like she needed love,” Anderson said, “and there’s a lot of love to give in our family.”
The Anderson family children surrounded the dog and petted it, often all at the same time.
A shelter volunteer read from Amelia’s record that labeled Amelia as shy and sweet but with a mind of her own.
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