On an average Tuesday afternoon, dogs can be heard barking from the parking lot of the Gulf Coast Humane Society in Fort Myers. But these talkative animals may find themselves in a new home by the end of the month.

On May 31 and June 1, various animal shelters and rescue organizations around Lee County will waive the adoption fee for pets as part of Maddie's Pet Adoption Days.

This event is being held for the first time in Lee County. It is being spearheaded by the Gulf Coast Humane Society, a nonprofit shelter responsible for the care and adoption of cats and dogs. On average, the shelter has 22 adoptions in a normal week. Courtney Piggott, Special Events Manager for the Gulf Coast Humane Society, said the event could increase the number of adoptions up to five times the shelter's average.

"You can find what you're looking for at a shelter," Piggott said, "Adopt, don't shop."

Adoption fees can be as high as $150 for puppies. During the two day event, all adoption fees will be waived and pets can be brought home for free. Despite the fee waiver, people looking to adopt with still have to go through the standard adoption process of filling an application and getting approved.

Maddie's Pet Adoption Days doesn't just mean a free pet. For every pet adopted, Maddie's Fund will donate money to the shelter or rescue group. Participating shelters or rescue groups will receive $500 per adoption of healthy cats and dogs, $1,000 per adoption of medically treatable or senior dogs and cats, and $2,000 per adoption of medically treatable and senior dogs and cats.

Maddie's Pet Adoption Days, funded by the family foundation Maddie's Fund, is the largest free pet adoption event in the U.S. The foundation, and the event, are named to honor Maddie, a beloved miniature Schnauzer, whose guardians stared the charitable foundation in her name to help provide support to the animal welfare community.

Last year, Alachua County was the only participant in the event. Jane Grantman, the shelter supervisor for Alachua County Humane Society, said the it was a huge success. Alachua County Humane Society adopted out 118 animals.

Maddie's Pet Adoption Days not only helps animals find homes but it also brings shelters together.

Grantman said many of the Alachua County rescue organization that participated in the event were able to adopt out all of their animals. She said, "It's a great way for us all to come together for a common cause."

Grantman said the shelter plans to use the money it received from Maddie's Fund to make renovations, including re-fencing a play yard for dogs.

More information on the event and a complete list of participants can be found on the events website adopt.maddiesfund.org.

If You Go

» What: Maddie's Pet Adoption Days

» When: May 31-June 1 during normal adoption hours

» Where: Various shelters, including the Gulf Coast Humane Society and the Lee County Domestic Animal Services. Visit adopt.maddiesfund.org/participants/florida/lee-county/

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