WASHINGTON - "Home for the holidays" -- it's a phrase that carries a lot of emotional weight. And that's no different at the Washington Humane Society.
Last week, the surge of surrendered pets was capped when 26 dogs arrived within 48 hours. In response, WHS waived the normal adoption fees and invited the public to consider a pet.
Apparently, the thought of homeless animals during the holidays tugged the heartstrings of many Washingtonians who showed up at the WHS's New York Avenue Shelter to adopt a pet: 100 adoptions were logged by 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
Stephanie Shain, Chief Operating Officer at the WHS, explains that for whatever reason, it's not uncommon for families to surrender their pets right before Christmas. She says the two common phrases shelter officials hear this time of year are "I just can't keep him anymore" or "We just don't have time for them anymore."
But Shain explained the standard screening process was still being employed: No one wants to see pets cycle in and out of shelters.
Standing in the room the staffers dubbed "Kitty City," Shain explained, "So we're talking to people, making sure that they're really ready and prepared -- that they're not just coming in on a whim with good intentions."
Latricia Cole was ready to adopt. She picked out the cat she knew would be her perfect crochet partner, a quiet, older orange tabby named Corduroy. She explained his appeal as he sat serenely in the middle of the bustling cat room.
"He's so humble…look at him! He's so humble-and playful when he wants to be!"
Across from her, Jasmine Thompson cradled a tiny brown tabby named Tutu.
"She's just very calm. She sits in your arms like a baby -- she's going to be my baby." Thompson laughed when she discovered the carpet of hair Tutu left on her black T-shirt and pants.
"She does shed a lot, but we'll get her a brush so she won't shed quite so much. She's just so adorable."
Just outside the dog room, the Bradley family -- mom, dad and three children -- waited to complete the final steps in the process of bringing home their new best friend, a 1-year-old dog named Cookie Crisp. Lainey Bradley said her parents explained to her a new dog means new responsibilities.
"We have to feed her, we have to give her water."
And, she added, "We also have to pick up the poop!"
But even the prospect of cleaning-up after their dog didn't put off Lainey and her sister, Gabby. It was Gabby who'd lobbied her parents to get a dog. What was her strategy?
"I'd been asking 'em so much that they just said…'Let's just get her a dog!'"
The Bradley family will make another change: Cookie Crisp is getting a new name with her new home. Gabby says the family settled on "Roxy" for their new pet.
"Roxy Foxy Bradley!" she said, proudly.
And with that, a staffer came by to arrange for the family to pick up Roxy and bring her home for the holidays.
WTOP's Kate Ryan contributed to this report.
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