About 100 pets found new homes Saturday thanks to a "Super Adoption" event that brought together unwanted dogs and cats from 17 Valley animal rescues.
Valley Animal Center in east-central Fresno was packed when about 750 people visited throughout the day.
"We prefer to save animals instead of buying them, because if no one takes them in, they are put down," said 35-year-old Jose Mejia of Fresno, who attended the event Saturday with his wife and three sons and adopted a calico kitten. "It's been a lot of fun to see all the animals and all the local rescues all in one place. That's pretty neat."
Half of the animal groups at Saturday's event euthanize animals when overcrowding occurs, said Rosie Davenport, the center's community relations coordinator.
The San Joaquin Valley has some of the highest euthanization rates in the country, and a study reported that 60,000 to 70,000 pets were killed in 2009-10, she said. About 82% of cats and 67% of dogs that wind up at Valley shelters are killed instead of adopted.
"It's horrendous," she said. "They are healthy, loving animals."
The death rate is high because of a lack of shelter space and also because too few animals are spayed and neutered by their owners.
Shelter pets are a bargain, Davenport said, because they come spayed or neutered, vaccinated, checked for diseases, and most are microchipped. At Saturday's event, pet adoptions ranged from $20 to $250 for some specialty breeds, she said.
Ashley Rhoads with Valley Animal Center said Saturday's event -- which also marked the grand opening of a 1.5-acre dog park -- helped increase awareness of local animal shelters, and she hopes more people will want to help support the work they do.
"The Super Adoption event is really important," Davenport said. "It brings a lot of attention to the over-population crisis."
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