It was obviously hard for many people to resist the puppy dog eyes of the stray pets looking for homes during an adoption event at Petco on Saturday, because most animals left with new friends.

It was the second year in a row for Killeen Animal Services and the Fort Hood Stray Animal Facility to bring a few animals from their shelters to the store to encourage pet adoption.

Veronica Caro, lead caretaker at Fort Hood Stray Animal Facility and a veterinary technician, was impressed by the speed at which the animals were adopted. Just halfway through the four-hour event both dogs were adopted; by the end, two of the five cats had new homes. All three of the dogs Killeen Animal Services caretakers brought were adopted and one cat is waiting at Petco for the right person.

“Our adoption rate today is pretty high,” Caro said. “It gives me a warm feeling to find these animals new homes because they didn’t ask to be in this situation. We’ve cried over a few.”

Caro said people should do research before adopting an animal.

“You have to be realistic about your financial situation and understand that you’re taking on a lot of responsibility,” she said.

Also consider if a particular dog or cat would fit in with your household, which is why every dog and cat has a biography.

Caretakers from the shelters had extensive questionnaires to help people determine the right dog or cat for their household. People signed compliance forms pledging to keep up with shots and veterinary care.

“We don’t want to just get rid of these animals; we want them to go to good homes,” Caro said.

Animal adoption is a cause close to the heart for many.

“We always encourage adoption first,” said Jessica Parker with Petco. “We believe in saving the lives of animals that don’t have a chance.”

Parker’s own dogs all were adopted from shelters.

One of her dogs was used as a breeder and had been neglected.

“When I saw her at the shelter I knew I had to take her home that day. It was a really emotional experience.”

Many people go into a shelter intending on picking a dog of a certain age or breed, but often it’s not so simple.

“You need to let the dog pick you; they’ll let you know if you’re the right one for them,” Parker said. “Just let them come to you.”

Accepting a dog or cat into the home is a lifetime commitment.

“Sometimes a person will get a puppy as a Christmas present and then by February it’s dumped at the shelter. It’s really sad,” Parker said.

Three veterinary technicians in training at the Killeen ISD Career Center were volunteering at the event.

Student Kashmire Johnson was straightforward about her career choice.

“I’ll be honest: I like animals more than I like people,” she said with a smile.

Petco hosts Killeen Animal Services every other Saturday for adoption events, during which most pets are adopted, Parker said. The next adoption opportunity at Petco is March 3, but dogs and cats always are waiting and available at local shelters.

“Every animal deserves a second chance,” Parker said. “Come and check it out, because one of these animals will steal your heart.”

Parker suggested taking a look at the Facebook page devoted to finding homes for lost and abandoned pets, “Central Texas Lost & Found Pets.”

For more information about helping stray animals find homes, call Killeen Animal Services at 254-526-4455, and Fort Hood Stray Animal Facility at 254-287-4675.

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