By Arden Moore
Sometimes, zero can be the most powerful number. It can be a mighty big challenge to achieve zero, but determined animal advocates here in Palm Beach County are teaming up to count down to a very special zero.
Circle the date — Saturday, Sept. 12 — on your calendars, pet lovers. That’s the date to head to the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach to select your best pet from among hundreds of adorable puppies, frisky kittens, well-mannered senior dogs, mellow adult cats and more critters to be showcased by two dozen local animal rescue groups at the second annual Countdown 2 Zero adoption event.
Last year, the inaugural event landed 300 shelter animals permanent, loving homes. This year, the organizers want to exceed 500 adoptions en route to a more ambitious goal.
“Our goal is to make sure we are saving the lives of every adoptable animal in Palm Beach County within the next nine years,” declares Rich Anderson, executive director and CEO of the Peggy Adams Rescue League. “Countdown 2 Zero is our county initiative. Peggy Adams, in partnership with the Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control, has a goal to make Palm Beach County a no-kill county for animals by 2024.”
Currently, the county is able to find homes for about 80 percent of adoptable dogs entering its shelters but only 35 percent of cats.
“That is sad because last year the county shelter had to euthanize about 4,000 cats,” notes Anderson. “This is where spay/neuter programs are becoming so critical and we are increasing our spay/neuter efforts to reduce the number of kittens born each year.”
Helping our county to achieve a home for every adoptable shelter pet is Lois Pope, whose foundation, the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, happily agreed to again present Countdown 2 Zero.
“I am thrilled to once again be the presenting sponsor of Countdown 2 Zero adoption event, as every animal deserves a forever home,” says Pope, a philanthropist and longtime animal advocate. “This special day will have hundreds of adorable pets waiting in line to find a loving home. I’m so happy to be a part of this event, where hundreds of precious animals will have a chance at a new life.”
When you head to the Countdown 2 Zero event, take it from me: Resist seeking your next BFF (best furry friend) by cute looks alone. When I adopted Chipper a decade ago, I wasn’t considering a husky mix weighing 60 pounds. I had my sights on a non-shedding puppy who would never exceed 20 pounds. But then I read Chipper’s bio online. It said she was 2 years old and had been adopted twice and returned. The biggest complaint about her: She was too energetic. But she thrived as one shelter’s behind-the-counter meet-and-greeter and was friendly to any cat she met (which was a bonus because I had two cats at the time).
After spending two hours with her at the mobile pet adoption event and interacting with her, I knew she was the one for me. Our activity levels were in sync. She was smart and eager to learn.
Sure, she is a super shedder and I vacuum nearly daily, but she has enriched my life in so many ways. She enjoys taking marathon walks with me and thrives as my canine teaching assistant for my pet behavior and pet first aid trainings. She is always the first to greet me when I come home.
So, come to the free event with an open mind. The best match for you may be a hidden gem. Don’t dismiss that gray-muzzled dog or a serene senior cat. You may think you want one pet, but end up adopting a sibling pair.
“We encourage people to think about adopting an older animal because those of us who have had puppies, know how challenging they are,” says Anderson. “With an older pet, you know his personality right away. We also encourage you to consider those types of cats and dogs who tend to take longer to find homes for, due to no fault of their own. I’m talking about black cats and what I describe as square-headed large dogs.”
Final “homework” before you head to the Countdown 2 Zero event: Take the online Meet Your Match adoption personality test offered by the Peggy Adams Rescue League. Find out what type of cat or dog — personality-wise — is best suited for you by visiting www.peggyadams.org/meet-your-match.
Rich Anderson, executive director of the Peggy Adams Rescue League, with Manny — one of the large dogs seeking a forever home. Photo courtesy Michelle Christmann