MENTOR, Oh. - Sixty dogs, that would have been euthanized if they weren't adopted from an overcrowded Ashtabula County shelter, have all been saved thanks to a dedicated staff and the media coverage of their plea for help.
"I can't believe the response that we've been having. It's phenomenal, we're saving so many lives," said Dr. Irene Fiala, Vice President of the Board of Directors at the Ashtabula County APL, as she watched lines of people fill out pet adoption forms.
About one week ago, the shelter's director Tammy Dondorfer told NewsChannel5, she herself, would have to euthanize about 60 dogs because the shelter was operating over max capacity. She made a plea on camera for help and since then, she said the support has been unprecedented.
After the story aired, Dondorfer said a rescue group took about 21 dogs. And throughout the week, volunteers tweeting and emailing got even more future pet-owners to come out. But Saturday's Adopt-a-Thon event at Mentor's PetSmart bumped the shelter's adoption numbers to a an even higher, unexpected outcome.
Tammy Dondorfer, the shelter's Director, said at around 3 p.m. Saturday, nearly 90 dogs were found new homes in one week!
"There's a few times actually today," said Dondorfer, " that um, a few of us almost wanted to hug each other and start crying." Crying tears of joy for how many people came out to show their support.
But after seeing and reading this story in the news, people packed the PetSmart store with lines, at one point, stretching out the door.
"I'm Michael Seese and this is Petie," said one man who had just adopted a small Chihuahua-mix.
"We saw that he'd be at PetSmart today and we were lucky enough to get Petie. Lots of people wanted him," he said, "I saw on the news how the shelter had been a bit overrun … when people get together and they do things like this, it's really a wonderful thing to try and save every life that you can. It's beautiful. It's wonderful."
"I read it in the news," said Brandi McIntire while petting what looked like a Pit bull mix, "and I said I couldn't not come."
In fact, so many people came that at one point, "There's a lot of people and they're running out of dogs, which is a good thing!" said Robin Barrisch.
Barrisch, like so many others, said the news of so many helpless animals possibly being killed struck a chord with her.
Overwhelmed with happiness, Dondorfer said, "We all, animals, all the staff, volunteers and the board thank all of the support that we've received."
Dondorfer also said about eight cats were adopted as well, which brings the total number of animals adopted this week to about 100.
It still doesn't empty their shelter according to Dondorfer, but she said, " … going up and beyond, really gives us a good jump-start to moving into the winter months."
Anyone looking to adopt in the future can visit ACAPL.org.