Free pet adoption this weekend

New San Martin Animal Shelter Supervisor Brigid Wasson plays with puppies at the shelter in 2008.

It’s a breezy, sunny day and Colleen, a 2-year old dog with an endless love for fetch, playfully chases a tennis ball in the grass. The border collie mix is sweet and lovable, but she has yet to find a permanent home. Colleen is just one of the many animals available for adoption at the County of Santa Clara Animal Care and Control. This Saturday and Sunday, Colleen and all of the other dogs and cats at the shelter can be adopted at no cost, thanks to the shelter’s participation in Maddie’s Pet Adoption Days – America’s largest free pet adoption event.

Sponsored by Maddie’s Fund, an animal rescue organization whose mission is to help achieve and sustain a no-kill nation, this weekend’s event is the fourth annual Maddie’s Pet Adoption Days. The event originated in the San Francisco Bay Area, and this year it expands to five states and 180 locations. The purpose of Maddie’s Pet Adoption Days is to increase awareness of shelter animals, recognize the tireless efforts of shelters and rescue organizations and find new families for homeless dogs and cats.

For every animal that the County of Santa Clara Animal Care and Control adopts out during this weekend, Maddie’s Fund awards the shelter money to treat and rehabilitate senior animals and those with medical conditions. For every healthy, younger animal adopted, $500 is granted. For every senior or special needs animal that find a home, $1,000 is given to the shelter. And for animals that are both over the age of 7 and have special needs that are adopted, Maddie’s Funds grants $2,000 to help further the shelter’s goals.

“Maddie’s Funds is doing a wonderful job at debunking misconceptions that people have about shelter animals, and spreading the word that the dogs and cats at facilities like ours can be great pets and companions,” said Supervisor Brigid Wasson of the County’s shelter located at 12370 Murphy Ave. in San Martin.

“Ultimately, our goal for Maddie’s Pet Adoption Days is to find every dog and cat here a home and have 100 successful adoptions take place,” she continued.

The shelter currently houses about 35 dogs and 40 cats who are looking for loving homes and are free to adopt this weekend. Additional animals that are temporarily being fostered in neighboring rescue organizations will also be brought back to the shelter in hopes of finding their forever home. Adoptable animals at the shelter include Mozart, a 23-pound black-and-white cat, and Dylan, a young and energetic Queensland heeler whose looking for an owner that can also be his exercise partner.

According to Laura Tindall, the cat volunteer coordinator at the shelter, about half of the adoptable cats are considered seniors – but she says that age shouldn’t deter anyone from wanting to take a feline companion home.

“Some perks of adopting older cats are that they are less demanding and more relaxed than kittens or younger cats,” she explained. “With more mature felines, what you see is what you get. They’re fully grown and have already developed their personalities, so it’s easier to determine if a cat is a good fit for potential owners.”

2013 marks the first year the shelter will be participating in the Maddie’s Pet Adoption Days weekend event. The facility is open for extended hours, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. this weekend only. Santa Clara County Animal Care and Control is one of six animal shelters in the Bay Area that form the WeCARE (Community Alliance to Reduce Euthanasia) Coalition, which was awarded the $1 million Community Lifesaving grant award from Maddie’s Fund last year.

Created by wealthy businessman Dave Sheffield and his wife Cheryl, Maddie’s Fund has a goal this weekend to find homes for 5,000 animals and to award participating organizations with $4 million. In Santa Clara County, participating Maddie’s Pet Adoption Days locations include Santa Clara County Animal Care and Control, San Jose Animal Care Center, Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority, Humane Society Silicon Valley, and a number of PETCO and PetSmart stores. For a full list of locations participating in the free adoption event, visit

“This weekend has been months in the making, and we’re excited to be part of such a special event that gives so many animals the chance to be adopted,” said Wasson. “Every animal deserves to find a loving home.”