Empty the Shelters (ETS) recently had its fifth pet adoption event in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A whopping 2,631 pets were rescued! That number includes adoptions that took place in the week leading up to the event plus one glorious day when 1571 pets were adopted—726 dogs, 827 cats, and 18 other animals.
ETS is the loving brainchild of the BISSELL Pet Foundation (BPF) founder, Cathy Bissell. She is a former journalist turned philanthropist and part of the 140-year-old company, BISSELL Homecare, Inc. BPF also raises money for shelters throughout the U.S. Cathy told us her inspiration for starting the foundation.
“I’d been working on fundraising for the local Humane Society,” she said. “A Black Lab was brought over to me. He was this gorgeous, regal six-year-old, beautiful beyond belief. His family had given him up because they wanted a puppy instead. I was so mad. I mean, who does that?!”
Thanks to this one big-hearted woman, we have sweet stories to share. One family with a handicapped daughter and three sons adopted a Pitbull at last year’s ETS. This year, they returned to adopt another Pitbull so he’d have a companion. The two dogs became fast friends, and the family is thrilled.
Another success tale is about a boy, an only child, who came before the big adoption day. He met a Black Labrador that won his heart. Cathy said, “His mother drove him two-and-a-half hours so they could be the first in line. That’s how badly this boy wanted that Lab.” Since then, Cathy heard from his Mom who said the two immediately became best friends.
Eastwood, named after the actor, is a Golden Retriever who was born with a deformed leg. It would’ve cost thousands of dollars to fix. “This sweet abandoned dog, found as a stray, was the last dog left in the shelter,” Cathy said. “He was adopted by a fantastic family that has six cats and another dog—all rescues and the father happens to be the head coach of the Detroit Pistons basketball team. So, I like to say that rescue was a slam-dunk.”