Bissell foundation breaks adoption record for Empty the Shelters

Empty the Shelters events began in Michigan and have grown to be the largest funded adoption events nationwide

Photo of Angela Mulka
Pip, a shepherd mix, waited 156 days at Houston Humane Society in Texas before his new family fell in love and adopted him during the May 2022 Empty the Shelters event.

Pip, a shepherd mix, waited 156 days at Houston Humane Society in Texas before his new family fell in love and adopted him during the May 2022 Empty the Shelters event.

Photo provided/Bissell Pet Foundation

Shelters are more crowded than ever due to slowed adoptions caused by pandemic-related issues, according to the Bissell Pet Foundation, which helped more than 13,500 shelter animals find homes during its spring Empty the Shelters event.

The May 2022 event encouraged adoption through reduced prices at 280 shelters in 45 states. In Michigan, 45 shelters participated. The foundation has helped to place 96,068 pets since 2016 through these events.

A typical Empty the Shelters event runs for one week. But, Bissell extended May's event to include an additional week to ensure, "as many pets as possible made it out of shelters and into loving homes," according to a press release issued Tuesday by the foundation.

From May 2 to 15, roughly 6,035 cats and 7,469 dogs were adopted through the event. The foundation sponsors adoption fees, allowing participating shelters to charge $25 or less per cat or dog, which gives a needed boost to their adoption rates.

Participating shelters from the Great Lakes Bay region included Bay County Animal Services and Adoption Center; Humane Society of Midland County; and Saginaw County Animal Care and Control.

Participating shelters from the Thumb area included Blue Water Area Humane Society; Do Only Good Animal Rescue; and Sanilac County Humane Society.

"Our partners are reporting that Empty the Shelters is driving even more adopters into their facilities," Cathy Bissell, founder of the foundation said in the release. "With the decline in transport, local adoptions have become our primary lifesaving tool. This is an expensive program for our small foundation, but it is a proven success, and we can’t turn our backs when we know we can save thousands of lives in one event."

The foundation highlighted a few adoption stories from this month's event including Lilly's. 

Lilly, a 13-year-old Jack Russel mix, was adopted from the Sanilac County Humane Society in Carsonville, Michigan during the May 2022 Empty the Shelters event. 

Lilly, a 13-year-old Jack Russel mix, was adopted from the Sanilac County Humane Society in Carsonville, Michigan during the May 2022 Empty the Shelters event. 

Photo provided/Bissell Pet Foundation

Lilly, a mostly blind and deaf 13-year-old Jack Russel mix, came to Sanilac County Humane Society in Carsonville after her owner passed away.

At 13 Lilly loves to go on long walks and play ball. She can even catch the ball in mid-air sometimes. But, after being in the shelter for two weeks she began to refuse to play.

Lilly's story won the heart of her adopter after it was shared on social media. The family sealed the deal and adopted her during the event.

The Bissell Pet Foundation started Empty the Shelters at just a few Michigan shelters in the beginning. Since then, the event has grown to be the country’s largest funded adoption event. To date, the events have provided more than $7.6 million in direct funding to shelter partners to support pet adoptions, according to the release.

For more information, visit bissellpetfoundation.org.