Winter may be months away, but there’s no denying fall is coming. So why not welcome the season skipping through foliage with a new buddy?

Head down to your local shelter on Aug. 15 to find your newest companion.

The date marks Clear the Shelters Day,an event in which shelters across America open their doors — and reduce their fees — to encourage people to take home an animal in need. The annual event, sponsored by NBC Universal stations such as NECN, is garnering support from shelters all over Massachusetts.

“It began with a shelter in Texas and spread to New England,” says Rob Halpin of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.


The choice to join the movement was easy, Halpin says. “We want people to adopt versus buy. Any animal that people would buy from a breeder or in a pet store could be found in your local shelter.”

Clear the Shelters Day is taking place at most shelters across the state. Some shelters reduce adoption fees and some waive them altogether. The Animal Rescue League of Boston is offering $50 off adoption fees of dogs and cats over a year old, plus an ARL Super Pet Pack, which includes a pet blanket, an ARL shoulder bag, a drink cozy and treats for your new dog or cat.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 7.6 million adoptable pets enter shelters every year. This event aims to match as many of those animals with homes as possible. “There’s a misconception that a shelter animal is somehow less whole, or perhaps broken because they’re not the kind of specialty breed a family or individual might like, and that’s not true,” says Halpin.

He suggests people explore their local shelter while the weather is warm.

“The summer is a great time to adopt,” he says. “Families are spending more time together because children are out of school, so it’s a wonderful time to get to know a pet. Then the animal has time to assimilate to the rhythms of the home when everyone is there at the same time.”

Plus, according to Halpin, New Englanders are specifically positioned to enjoy a pet. “The beaches and the mountains of New England, those experiences are enhanced when we do them with a four-legged friend.”

So don’t let another season go by taking walks alone. Find a companion who leaves no rock unturned and no smell unsniffed. to find your nearest shelter — and your new best friend.

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