MANATEE -- With almost 140 dogs in the Palmetto shelter, Manatee County Animal Services is hoping the presence of Manatee High School football players and cheerleaders at Saturday's adoption day will find new homes for a lot of dogs.
"The community is coming together for a good cause," said Sam Wolfe, animal services volunteer specialist.
The Furry Football Pup Rally will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. All dogs, microchipped and spay/neutered, will be $10 to adopt plus $15 for the license tag fee for Manatee County residents.
North River Kiwanis Club will grill free hot dogs donated by Dr. Jeff Beard.
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"We just want to basically cheer on adoptions," said Laurie Crawford, president of the nonprofit Animal Network.
The shelter, 305 25th St. W., Palmetto, has been consistently overcrowded.
"It's definitely taking a toll on staff and volunteers," Wolfe said. "You can tell tensions are getting high from too many dogs in one area."
Wolfe said she is hoping for 30 to 50 adoptions.
"This is just always going to be a need," she said. "Now is a good time to get situated with welcoming a family member this time of the year."
Crawford said she wants to invite other schools to partner with the shelter.
"Partnering with the schools, I think is really, really vital to the success of animal services," she said. "I think it's important to have partnerships with schools. ... I always think that it's great to get kids involved in animal programs."
As the Palmetto shelter prepares for its adoption day, Downtown Meowtown celebrated its 200th cat adoption Thursday -- a 5-month-old kitten named Scooper, who was adopted by Caitlyn Simpson and Brandy Akins.
Sue Kolze, Animal Network vice president, called the feat "quite a record." The downtown adoption center opened in mid-January.
"It proves that offsite adoption centers work rather than just having all the cats at the shelter," Kolze said, adding foot traffic, location and word-of-mouth helped.
Kolze said they are aiming to reach the 300th adoption by the end of the year.
"That's realistic with the northerners by the end of the year," she said. "We will keep doing what we are doing and getting more publicity and more advertising. It's been super successful."
Downtown Meowtown volunteer Jo Marble said all the volunteers were excited all day Thursday.
"We knew today could be the day," she said. "It's what all the volunteers are here for. Since the middle of January, we think it's awesome. We are glad to be moving cats in Manatee County and getting them adopted."
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter@Claire_Aronson.