Clear The Shelters Saves 167 Shelter Pets With Rescue Flight to Kick Off 2021 Adoption Campaign
The adoptable pets were greeted by New Amsterdam star Ryan Eggold when the Clear the Shelters rescue flight landed in Morristown, New Jersey
Clear the Shelters is ready to help thousands of pets find homes once again.
The annual adoption campaign presented by NBCUniversal is back for its seventh consecutive year. For 2021, Clear the Shelters is partnering with more than 1,000 animal rescues to promote pet adoptions from Aug. 23 through Sept. 19 on NBC and Telemundo-owned and affiliated stations. The campaign is also working with Greater Good Charities and The Animal Rescue Site to host a fundraiser for shelters nationwide.
Clear the Shelters has helped more than 550,000 pets find homes and raised over $1.2 million for rescues and shelters since 2015. To get a head start on saving lives this year, NBCUniversal Local, Greater Good Charities, The Animal Rescue Site, and Hill's Pet Nutrition partnered for a Clear the Shelters rescue flight.
The pet airlift took place on Clear the Shelters 2021's launch day, August 23. The flight carried 167 at-risk shelters pets from overcrowded Louisiana shelters to rescues with space to adopt out the animals.
On Monday morning, volunteers loaded sixty-eight dogs and 99 cats onto a plane in New Orleans. The pet passengers then enjoyed a short flight to the Northeast. The plane stopped in Morristown, New Jersey first, to drop off 65 dogs. Representatives from St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center happily received the canines and safely transferred them to their rescue.
Animal lover and New Amsterdam star Ryan Eggold, who served as the celebrity spokesperson for last year's Clear The Shelters campaign, was on the ground in Morristown as well and helped St. Hubert's transfer the pets.
"I'm a huge supporter of Clear The Shelters just because I think rescue dogs, rescue cats, rescue animals, are the best. They're so full of love, they're so kind, and I think it really means something, you know, to be rescued from a shelter and give them a great home, and they just love you to death. I rescued a pit named Jody, and she's just my best friend. She's the greatest dog in the world, so I think everybody should do it," Eggold said of why Clear the Shelters is important to him.
After touching down in New Jersey, the rescue flight made its final stop in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Here, the three remaining dogs and 99 cats on the plane deboarded into better lives. Northeast Animal Shelter and MSPCA-Angell picked up the pets and transported the animals back to their rescue facilities.
Now, these cats and dog are starting their searches for the perfect forever families and no longer have to worry about getting euthanized before meeting their matches. Funding from Hill's Pet Nutrition and The Animal Rescue Site made this Clear the Shelters effort — part of Greater Good Charities' Good Flights program — possible. The Animal Rescue Site is also donating supplies to the flight's participating shelters, and Hill's is donating over 6,000 pounds of pet food to support both the sending and receiving shelters.
The 167 adoptable pets saved by this flight are just a few among the thousands that Clear the Shelters is striving to help this year. The campaign has partnered with the WeRescue app to make virtual pet adoptions more accessible to make it easier than ever to meet the perfect pet.
"It's an amazing initiative that makes a huge impact," Superstore alum Lauren Ash, the celebrity spokesperson for Clear the Shelters 2021, told PEOPLE.
The actress, a proud parent to three rescue pets, knows that potential adopters can find the perfect furry friend among all the animals looking for homes.
"It doesn't matter what cat or dog you get. They're going to give you the best love," she added.
Ash will announce the number of pets that found forever homes with help from Clear The Shelters this year during the Clear the Shelters TV special, which is set to air in mid-September (check local listings).
Those unable to adopt a pet, but still interested in helping animals, can support the life-saving work of Clear the Shelters' rescue partners at cleartheshelterfund.org.
To learn more about Clear the Shelters' 2021 campaign and meet more animals looking for homes, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.