On August 15, 2015, NBCUniversal-owned television stations gave a huge menagerie of dogs, cats, lizards, rabbits — even a potbellied pig named Channing Tatum — a second chance through the Clear the Shelters initiative. Thanks to the work of NBC- and Telemundo-owned stations and partners across the country, the campaign emptied shelters in dozens of markets, delighted thousands of families, and demonstrated how our local stations are in touch with the needs of their communities.
Number of animals that found safe, permanent, and loving homes through the Clear the Shelters initiative
Summer months are hard on animal shelters, which quickly reach peak capacity with new litters and abandoned pets. Clear the Shelters addressed the strain that overcrowding can put on animal welfare facilities, many of which struggle to feed, house, and care for the new additions.
"This was the first thing we tried to do as an entire division," says Valari Staab, President of NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations. "And it felt like the right cause. Uniting our stations and balancing the needs of our communities with our needs as a broadcaster isn’t an easy thing to do. But now we have a great blueprint going forward."
Clear the Shelters started as a North Texas initiative in 2014, as the Dallas-Fort Worth NBC and Telemundo stations partnered with shelters throughout the region on a one-day adopt-a-pet campaign. At the end of the day, more than 2,200 animals found homes — the most ever adopted in a single day in North Texas. The runaway success of the event inspired NBCUniversal-owned stations across the country to take up the cause.
In 2015, 28 local NBC and Telemundo television stations, as well as New England regional news network necn, partnered with more than 400 shelters on the initiative. We publicized the event on air during newscasts, with previews leading up to the event and live shots on the big day. We also engaged viewers online and via social media to raise awareness. Participating shelters extended their hours, offered no-cost or reduced-fee adoptions, or waived the costs of spaying and neutering in honor of the day.
National shows like TODAY, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, Extra, and MSNBC’s Morning Joe also covered the campaign, with celebrities like Mario Lopez, Ellen DeGeneres, and Sarah Michelle Gellar joining in on social media.
The combined efforts resulted in a tsunami of interest, with families lining up in communities around the country to take home new companions. By the end of the event, many shelters had run out of adoptable animals — a rarity in the summer months. A 30-minute post-adoption-day special hosted by TODAY’s Natalie Morales aired a week later on all NBC-owned stations and on 107 NBC affiliate stations across 93 markets. The Telemundo stations also aired a special hosted by Elva Saray, of Telemundo 52 Los Angeles-KVEA's daily entertainment show Acceso Total, and Jessica Carrillo, host and reporter for Telemundo's Al Rojo Vivo.
The event’s success came down to two factors: We reach large-scale audiences across our multiple platforms, and we are personally invested in the communities where we live and work.
"Animals have always been an important part of my life," Valari says. "I know well the great contribution their love makes to a family. I’m so proud that our stations could pull this off.
"Clear the Shelters is an example of how together we can rally to save deserving animals and make a positive impact in our communities."