PALMETTO -- Animal lovers came out to show their support for their four-legged friends Saturday and many walked away with a new friend for life.
With local shelters exceeding capacities, volunteers came together to help find homes for as many dogs and cats as possible.
The Furget Me Not Emergency Adoption Event was held at Manatee County Animal Services in Palmetto in a massive effort to find good homes for the dogs and cats overpopulating the county shelter.
"We just wanted to come out and support," Tony Swackhammer said. "It's kinda hard just walking through there and seeing all the dogs."
Swackhammer, accompanied by his wife and sons, found a new addition to their family.
"We kinda just feel in love with George," Swackhammer said.
Sabrina Swackhammer said the family recently lost one of their two dogs and the other is taking the loss hard.
"Diesel is just so sad, he won't even eat anything," Sabrina Swackhammer said. "We thought if we could adopt this one it would keep him company."
Sons Spencer, 10, and Tyler, 12, were anxious to get home and play with George.
After a long day, 27 dogs and 15 cats had somewhere new to call home.
"It was a lot more than I hoped," Marci Baker. "I think it was really
successful and everyone was really happy."
Baker helped organizethe event with about 100 other volunteers. She had recently visited the shelter and saw how many animals were in need, many at risk of being euthanized.
"If you are going to speak up, you gotta stand up," Baker said her daughter told her.
The phrase was one she always preached, so she decided to do something about it.
"The need was so immediate," Baker said. "We just wanted to save the dogs that were here."
The event featured free food provided Anna Maria Oyster Bar and Cox Chevrolet and was served by the Hit Crew of Manatee County Roller Derby Team.
Many other vendorswere also on site offering free services. They also raise funds to finance some adoptions.
Another family decided to adopt the dog they had been fostering.
Misty Higgins and daughter Whitney Silvia fell in love with a dog named Baby Girl, also known as Pickles, that had been a victim of animal cruelty.
"They were going to put her down," Higgins said. "So I fostered her, got her healthy and now I adopted her."
Many volunteers cried as the animals they had grown to love left to their new homes.
"It's amazing, everyone reaching out and helping," Baker said.
Eight adoptions were also sponsored and many vendors have promised to contribute from the referrals they received Saturday.
"At the end of the day it's all about the dogs," Baker said. "To make it about anything else would be silly."
Jessica De Leon, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.