When their 14-year-old Belgian Malamute, Nicki, died, the MacRoberts family mourned the loss of one of their own.
On Saturday, they decided it was time to find a new family member. John MacRoberts, 56, his wife, Gabe, and their 25-year-old daughter, Chelsea, spent hours at the Mega-Match-a-Thon pet adoption event in Tropical Park.
They braved the long line in the hot sun to get into the Miami-Dade animal services dog tent, which was lined with crates of howling, yapping dogs. Gabe, 53, texted photos of potential pups to their 21-year-old son, Sean, to get his input.
Around 5 p.m. they had the decision down to Ziva, a 3-year-old black lab, or Meagan, a 2-month-old black terrier mix. At first sniff, tiny Meagan growled at Ziva’s friendly licks. The family, along with volunteers, took the pups outside to get a feel for which dog would be a better fit.
In the sunshine and grass, the dogs sniffed and nosed each other, tails wagging. Above them, John reached for the volunteer’s clipboard with the adoption paperwork.
“We’re getting both,” he said with a grin. “It’s a package deal.”
On the other side of the dog tent, visitors to the event were eating at food trucks, jumping in bounce houses and rapping on stage at the open mic. The fourth annual Mega-Match-a-Thon event aimed for a festival atmosphere for 24 hours, which began Friday at 11:59 p.m. and ends Saturday at 11:59 p.m.
“While adopting at the shelter is an amazing experience, here you can plan your whole Saturday around it,” said Jossie Aguirre, director of marketing and special events for the Humane Society of Greater Miami.
Aguirre carried a box filled with the paperwork for the more then 75 animals her organization had adopted out so far. “It’s been a good cat year,” she said.
Cats are the hardest pet to adopt out, said Miami-Dade Animal Services spokeswoman Lilian Bohorquez. Most people just scoop their kittens up from the street instead of visiting a shelter.
The other hard-sell demographic is big dogs, Bohorquez said. But during this event, plenty of large pups found new homes.
“We’re so thrilled whenever we see a big dog get chosen,” she said. “We shout ‘Big Mutt! Big Mutt!’”