For First Time in Nearly 50 years, Pennsylvania Animal Shelter Is Empty

There are no barks or meows coming from a Pennsylvania animal shelter during this holiday week thanks to what it called “a true miracle.”

For the first time in 47 years, the Adams County SPCA kennels are empty because all of its animals have been adopted and strays have been reunited with their families, the organization shared in a Facebook post.

The kennels were nearly full two weeks ago, but now there are no dogs remaining and only one cat that came as a stray, according to the animal shelter.

The Adams County SPCA shared a joyous photo of its employees smiling in a hallway filled with empty kennels.

“This is the first time in 47 YEARS that the Adams County SPCA is empty let alone at Christmas time, it is a true miracle!” the organization wrote. “To say that we are beyond excited is an understatement! The staff and volunteers have worked VERY hard to take care of the animals in our care and to make sure they got adopted to the right home!”

Adams County SPCA kennel technician Tonya Hays tells TODAY.com the organization moved between 15 and 20 animals either as adoptions or strays returned to owners in the last two weeks to empty the kennels.

“We had to get all them spayed and neutered, vaccinated, and tested for heart worms and tick-borne illness while also processing a lot of (adoption) applications, so the staff worked really hard,” Hays says. “It was pretty cool. It was quite a feat.”

The Adams County SPCA adopted out 94 animals and returned 26 strays to their owners since Nov. 1 and not one of them has been returned, officials told TODAY.com.

Shelter officials wrote on Facebook that the organization has adopted 598 animals this year and reunited 120 pets with their owners. It’s now pitching in to help other shelters in Pennsylvania that are filled.

While it may seem like the holiday spirit motivated more adoptions to help empty the shelters, Hays said they actually discourage people from giving pets as gifts because of the years-long commitment it requires.

Many of the owners who adopted pets from the shelter responded in the comments with photos of their lovable pooches and felines.

The organization also shared “happy tails” on Facebook sent by owners who have recently adopted pets from the shelter, including an adorable cat named Bootsie.

“All of our children adore him but he has been the biggest game changer for my four year old autistic daughter,” the owner wrote to the SPCA. “Hope cuddles Bootsie when she’s upset instead of having full blown meltdowns, cuddles him and practices her verbal expressions of compassion, love and affection. Thank you so much for all you do!”

The Adams County SPCA wrote in a follow-up Facebook post on Dec. 26 that it has “received an overwhelming response” from shelters across the country and in Canada and Mexico, as well as members of the public, asking them to take in animals to shelter.

“Even though our hearts break from them and the situation they are in we need to help our members of OUR community members first,” the organization wrote.

The shelter is only taking animals surrendered by residents within the county as well as surrounding counties and any “overwhelmed shelters” in Pennsylvania.

“We are going to do the best we can to help as many animals and people we can,” the Adams County SPCA wrote.

The ASPCA estimates that 6.3 million animals enter shelters every year, split almost evenly between cats and dogs, and about 4.1 million of them are adopted each year. Approximately 920,000 shelter animals are euthanized each year, the majority of them cats, according to the ASPCA.

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