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National sponsor helped bring pets and owners together

Matthew Lane • May 30, 2017 at 9:30 PM

KINGSPORT — Cats and dogs were literally flying off the shelves at our local shelters this weekend.

That’s because pet adoptions were free this past weekend at the PETworks: Regional Animal Services’ two shelters in Kingsport and Blountville. The free adoptions were part of a national “Free the Shelters” campaign– sponsored by PRAI Beauty and its CEO and founder Cathy Kangas.

The campaign covered the adoption fees at three organizations Saturday: our local shelters; the Adopt-A-Dog in Armonk, New York; and the Great Plains SPCA in Independence, Missouri, and Merriam, Kansas.

Tom Parham, president of the PETworks board, said more than 50 percent of the animals at the two shelters were adopted on Saturday.

“We had a tremendous weekend,” Parham said. “We had over 130 animals adopted at the two shelters, all the kittens and all the puppies.” Another nine adoptions are in the works, pending home visits, Parham added.

More than two dozen employees, regular volunteers and other folks came out to the two shelters to help meet the nearly overwhelming demand for pets. Cars and trucks were lined up the roads leading to both shelters, and people from the across the community came out to take advantage of the free adoptions.

Parham said it took a tremendous effort by everyone to meet the demand on Saturday by bringing the animals out, walking the dogs, helping visitors fill out applications and providing additional information prior to adopting.

“It was a great weekend. We’ve never had anything like it before,” Parham said. All told, Saturday’s event saved residents nearly $8,000 in adoption fees.

The new normal adoption rate is now $60, down from $80 earlier this year. A couple of volunteers have come back into the program and plan to sponsor half-rate events later this year, Parham said.

PETworks got on the radar of PRAI Beauty through Kingsport resident Mindy Frazier. Frazier, who volunteers at the local shelter, won PRAI Beauty’s nationwide “Not Just a Pretty Face” search earlier this year, and PETworks received a $500 donation from the Florida-based beauty products company.

A similar adoption event was held in Tampa Bay earlier this month, and company founder Kangas — an animal activist and board member of the Humane Society of the United States — said that event was an ah-ha moment for her, which ultimately led to the national campaign on Saturday.

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