Traci Ballard and her son Reed came to the Maryland State Fairgrounds adoption event Saturday — prepared with a zebra-stripped pet carrier they purchased the night before — ready to bring home a new family member.
Less than an hour after the event began, the mother and son from Forest Hill were waiting in line to fill out the paperwork for two new additions.
“We came to get one until we got down here,” Ballard said.
After seeing the brother and sister kittens — one cream colored and the other tortoiseshell — “we knew,” Ballard said, and they adopted both.
The family was among a large crowd in the Timonium fairgrounds’ exhibit building for the third annual adoption event featuring animals from the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter, the Maryland SPCA, the Baltimore Humane Society, the Baltimore County Animal Services and the Humane Society of Harford County.
People perused wire cages, some containing pugs and pit bulls, or smaller cages with groups of kittens. Many of the dogs barked at passers-by, while some put their paws up against the cage door with excitement. The cats, of course, remained more subdued. Some kittens napped in fur piles, some in their litter boxes. Others pawed at feather toys and jingly balls in their cages.
All the adoption fees were waived for the event, and owners got to take their new pets home the same day.
When organizers arrived for the event that started at noon, a line already had formed outside the building, said Sarah Karpovich, the off-site adoption coordinator for BARCS. Such events tend to draw large crowds, meaning many animals will go to a new home.
“Most will get adopted,” Karpovich said of the nearly 150 animals that were available.
Organizers said such events draw potential pet owners who might be deterred by going to the shelters.
“Shelters often hear people say they don’t want to go to the shelter because it’s too overwhelming or they don’t want to feel sad,” Jennifer Brause, BARCS’ executive director, said in a statement.
Karpovich said the event also provides a wide variety of animals for those looking for a specific type of breed.
Ballard said the family chose to come because of the event’s convenience. They recently lost their beloved cat of 15 years and needed to find another companion. She said she saw promotions for the event on Facebook and decided to wait to look for a new pet.
Initially, Ballard planned to get just one cat, but Reed, her 12-year-old son, wanted a pet of his own. She’s had her past cats since before Reed was born, so this would be his first chance of taking care of a kitten, she said.
Reed said he only had one qualification: “a snuggly one.”
Malissa Damon of Owings Mills said she came to the event to find a new cat for her 8-year-old son after their last cat escaped into the woods near their home.
“He was getting really attached” to that cat and she wanted to find him a new pet, she said. “He’s going to be so surprised.”
Damon had picked out a 2-year-old gray and white tabby named Sandy for him. The kitty seemed subdued in her new cage with her tail tucked around her, watching all the commotion through the wire door. Soon she’d be joining a toy poodle named Pippi Longstocking, another BARCS rescue, at the house.
Pedro Wilson, his wife Emily and their son Paul hoped to find a new dog to take home. The Lansdowne family met with Fenora, an energetic pit bull, who got a little jumpy from the noise at the exhibit hall.
Baltimore County Animal Services volunteer Monica Armstrong walked Fenora and the family outside so they could see the dog in her natural state.
“She gets distracted but she loves everybody,” Armstrong told the family as Fenora ran to the window and barked.
Fenora seemed to be a possible contender, but the family continued to check out other animals back inside the exhibit hall.
At each event, Karpovich said, a few unwanted pets are left behind and they return to the shelter.
While the event helps clear cages, she said, unfortunately, it won’t be too long until more animals come to the shelter in need of homes.