GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Adopt 300 animals in 24 hours. That was the goal of the Humane Society of South Mississippi in its first ever 24 hour adopt-a-thon. It began at 10 Saturday morning, and ended the following Sunday morning. While they didn't quite reach 300, the group did set a new life saving record.
"From where we stand right now and the pets going out our doors, it feels good," said Jode' Braxton-Hignight of the HSSM.
The HSSM is competing in an ASPCA challenge to adopt out 2300 pets in just three months. The adopt-a-thon was a way to kick off the challenge.
"It's amazing. I can't believe so many people showed up in the community to help all these pets and adopt some animals. I think it's the best thing they could do and it should happen more often," said Shay Zoll who adopted a Labrador mix.
In all 226 cats and dogs found new homes. The old record for most adoptions in one day was 51. The HSSM had broken that record just a few hours into the challenge.
"That feels so good because we're able to save their lives," said Braxton-Hignight.
With so many people pouring in to find a new pet, the staff and volunteers worked hard to make sure each pet found the perfect match. So, when I asked what animal would suit me:
"Elizabeth, as much as you work, I would never adopt a dog out to you right now," laughed Braxton-Hignight."
She went on to explain that the HSSM quizzes potential pet owners on their job, lifestyle and living situation to ensure that the pet is going to the best home. For those with a busy schedule, like me, she suggested a cat which is much more independent than a puppy that needs training.
Even some of the most at risk animals, large dogs and adult cats, quickly found homes. At the end of the day, finding homes for these animals is the real goal.
"Very exciting to say, this is my dog," said Ebony Midcalf who took home a two year old dog that shared her mother's birthday.
To handle the adopt-a-thon, the HSSM had more than 120 volunteers work through the night.