SouthPark Mall goes to the dogs the first Saturday of each month, January through October, courtesy of Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department Animal Care and Control.
On those days, adoptable cats and dogs take center stage in Center Court from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Over the past 12 years, more than 2,000 animals have found their forever homes thanks to the partnership between the shelter and the upscale South Charlotte mall.
Potential pet parents never know what new furry friend they will find. On Feb. 4, nine dogs and several cats found new homes.
Hexi — a small, 3-month old Yorkie-Cairn terrier mix —was the first to be adopted. Her new owner, Heidi Nowak, couldn’t wait to get to the mall that morning.
“I lost my 12-year-old dog, Suzi, about two weeks before, and I realized I couldn’t live without a little furry friend. I found out about the adoption event, and I was so excited that I got to the mall before it opened,” said Nowak.
“When I saw Hexi, I just fell in love with her. I couldn’t put her down. She’s absolutely delightful and has brought so much joy into the house. It’s incredible.”
While Nowak was filling out paperwork, Melissa Green arrived from Clover, South Carolina, to look at the puppy a co-worker and shelter volunteer had told her about. The single mother of three kids and three cats, works full time and is also enrolled in an MBA program. Despite her almost impossible schedule, she said the time was right to add a dog to the family.
“For me, it wasn’t about looking for a particular breed. It was about finding the dog that would be a perfect fit for our family. My friend sent me a picture of Dolly and I couldn’t wait to meet her,” said Green.
It was love at first sight for both parties. Green reports the young fox hound mix is now house- crate-trained, enrolled in classes at PetSmart, and looks forward to long walks each day.
“She’s just adorable,” said Green.
While Hexi and Dolly were being adopted, Bailey, an 8-year-old beagle, sat quietly, patiently waiting for someone to take him home.
It was his second time around as a shelter dog. A few days earlier, he was picked up as a stray and his identification chip told a sad story. He had been adopted from the shelter four years ago, but when that owner was notified he said he had given him away. The current owner couldn’t be located.
Bailey’s story had a happy ending. Sebastian Swiger and his girlfriend, Katelynn Hanek, considered going to the shelter to look at the adoptable dogs, but decided to go shopping instead. When they arrived at the mall, they realized the shelter had come to them.
“When we saw the dogs there, we thought it might be a sign. When we met Bailey, we had no doubt,” said Swiger.
“When I saw that gray face, I couldn’t say no. And he smiled. I never saw a dog with a smile on his face before.”
The couple met Bailey, went to lunch to talk over the big decision, then came back to adopt him about 1 p.m. When Hanek, opened her wallet she had exactly $40 – the adoption fee.
“We knew it was meant to be. He’s right at home now. He’s awesome,” said Swiger.
Linda Hagemann, volunteer coordinator with CMPD Animal Care and Control, says she is grateful that SouthPark opens their doors to shelter animals each month.
“The mall event is such a blessing for our shelter and for the animals finding the many loving homes. We are very grateful to Simon Management for generously hosting us each month,” said Hagemann.
“We have met so many caring mall patrons who attend these events. Earlier adopters often revisit this event to say hello and to give the shelter staff and volunteers the moral support.”
SouthPark’s Holly Roberson says mall staff and retailers enjoy the shelter visits.
“It’s definitely a family-friendly environment and always a great event. A lot of our retailers have adopted animals from the event. They look forward to it every month.,” said Roberson.
“As far as SouthPark is concerned, it’s an awesome community event. We love to work with CMPD Animal Care and Control to help the community and help the animals. We love to use our facility to help provide that platform for them.”
Melinda Johnston is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to go?
The next CMPD Animal Care and Control adoption event at SouthPark happens 10 a.m.-4 p.m. March 4 in Center Court between the escalators. If you can’t make that adoption event, you can visit the shelter at 8315 Byrum Drive, Charlotte, 28217, and adopt directly from there. Shelter hours are: 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Monday-Friday and 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Adoption fees and other information available at animals.cmpd.org.
▪ Lake Norman Humane, 110 Robinson Road (At N.C. 150 and Robinson Road near Big Daddy’s restaurant), Mooresville. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays. 704-663-3330. Visit www.iredellhumane.org to see animals available or to complete an adoption application.
▪ To meet or adopt a pet, visit the Cornelius Animal Shelter, 19110 Meridian St. This shelter also needs active kennel attendants and administrative volunteers. If you are older than 18 and are interested, contact Cornelius Animal Control at 704-237-3602. www.corneliuspd.org.