FLATIRON — The streets around Union Square saw more foot traffic than usual this afternoon as hundreds of four-legged animals overtook the sidewalks for the city's biggest free pet adoption event.
The Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals, a non profit which helps the city's homeless animals, hosted the two day event with the help of dozens of other city animal shelters and rescue groups, with the aim of seeing more than 1,000 cats and dogs find news homes in the city.
One of those lucky pets was a ten-month old pit-mix named Dylan who found a home with Rob Klain, a veterinarian with West Chelsea Veterinary.
"I've been looking for a dog for a while. I saw him online and came out to meet him today and he's what I was looking for. He's not a small puppy but still young and he's good with other dogs and cats," Klain said. "I just wanted to rescue a dog rather than buy one since there are too many who need homes already."
There were 650 pets adopted Saturday, and Jane Hoffman, founder and president of the Alliance, expects Sunday's numbers to match that. "Because we are New Yorkers and overachievers, we are going to blow through a thousand adoptions," Hoffman added.
"While adoptions go on all the time, these big events let people know we need the adoptions and gets people to think about adopting rather than buying," Hoffman said. "It gives all these little New Yorkers a second chance and it gives everyone else a chance to get a new four-footed family member."
Despite the heat, the event drew large crowds who flocked to the stalls of pet food vendors offering free giveaways, the large adoption vans housing a mix of cats and dogs, and the volunteers holding back eager dogs, some sopping wet from soaks in kiddie pools to keep them cool.
"I can't believe how busy it's been, but it's awesome that people came out," said Rachel Wolk, a volunteer with Social Tees Animal Rescue. "It's making it easier for people to adopt and seeing the animals makes it more likely they'll adopt than visit a pet store."
Homeless pets could be adopted free of fees in 65 shelters across the city and at two adoption events held Saturday at the Petco on Broadway and 92nd Street and Sunday at the Petco at Union Square.
All the pets being presented for adoption were spayed/neutered and vaccinated, and most had microchips.
Funding for the adoptions and event came from California-based non profit Maddie's Fund, a family foundation focused on funding pet adoption and no-kill shelters, as part of their "Maddie's Pet Adoption Day," which sponsored similar adoption events in California, Florida, Nevada and Wisconsin this weekend.