GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Throughout the month of August, WOOD TV8 is partnering with local animal rescues and shelters to help Clear the Shelters.

It’s a nationwide campaign for NBC stations that has helped over 860,000 animals find a forever home since it started in 2015. West Michigan shelters operate near animal capacity and adoption is the easiest way for the community to alleviate the strain on overcrowded shelters.

Recognizing that adoption may not be for everyone, Clear the Shelters works with Greater Good so that community members looking to make an impact can donate directly to a shelter of their choosing. Shelters receive 100% of the donations directed to them and can use the money for the other factors that weigh on overcrowded facilities, like food, litter and other supplies.

Each animal, big or small comes with their own adoption story. Whether it’s love at first sight, an irresistible personality, or the understanding in the eyes of needing each other, rescues can make an immense impact on the family. Here are the WOOD TV8 family’s rescue animals and their stories.

Meghan Bunchman pets Tapatio.

Meghan Bunchman (Reporter): This is Tapio. He was a rescue. In fact, his whole litter came from a kill shelter in Alabama. he is just another part of our family. We have two kids already. He’s our third child, to say the least. He is very kind, very gentle. We’ve always rescued. I feel like when you rescue, you’re saving two dogs, not just the one you’re actually taking home with you but you’re opening up another spot for another foster dog or a cat to be taken in.

Charlsie Dewey (Digital Director): We adopted littermates Pablo and Miso from the Humane Society of West Michigan two summers ago. When the shelter staff let these two out of their enclosure so we could get a closer look, they went racing around after each other with the most playful and energetic spirits — they were very disinterested in us. Since we took them home, that playfulness hasn’t stopped. Even though they remain mini tornadoes, they have also grown into cuddly companions. We are glad that they have each other and weren’t separated because I can’t imagine them apart from one another.

Pablo and Miso, Charlsie Dewey's cats.
Sara Flynn holds Mocha.

Sara Flynn (Meteorologist): This is Mocha. He is technically an Abyssinian Guinea pig. We got him at the Humane Society of West Michigan. I volunteer there once a week and a Guinea pig came in and he was the only one. We bonded. I technically fostered him for a little bit before I officially adopted him. But I always had Guinea pigs growing up, and so they have a special place in my heart. I love having a pet, and specifically I love having pets from shelters. I think a lot of people know that cats and dogs are in shelters, but there’s also a lot of small animals that need homes, too.

Blake Harms (Meteorologist): I have two cats, both of which were rescued — but with very different stories. Blaney, my tabby cat, was rescued from the Ingham County Animal Shelter two years ago. I wasn’t expecting to add another to the family, but Burton, my orange cat, found me. He was hiding in a car engine at the TV station I was working at in Lansing. I was the one who pulled him out and the rest was history. Having both cats, especially acquiring them through rescue situations, has given me the opportunity to provide them with a better life. That’s been the most rewarding part of owning rescues!

Blake Harms' cats Blaney and Burton.
JoJo, Cristina Hasenohrl's dog.

Cristina Hasenohrl (Producer): This is JoJo, and we adopted her from the Kent County Animal Shelter just over a year ago. When we first saw her, she was so shy and scared. She barely made eye contact with us and she wouldn’t come near us at all. We were told that her previous owner had her for about a year, then released her to the shelter — leaving her with some pretty major trust issues. But we kept visiting her over the course of a week and she seemed to showed a little progress. By the end of the week, we took a leap of faith and made her ours. Almost as soon as we got home, she changed. She constantly craved cuddles and pets, and she was so generous with her kisses. She’s the most affectionate and sweet dog we’ve ever had. We’re so happy we brought this girl into our family and we’re so excited to see what adventures lie ahead with JoJo.

Jennifer Hill (Broadcast Director): These are my rescue cats Wanda and Maxie. They were adopted together from the same litter from Mosh Pit Rescue in April 2021. They love taking naps, playing fetch, getting scratched on the chin and eating treats. They are good company and love to cuddle and watch birds from the window.

Wanda and Maxie, Jennifer Hill's cats.
Luna, Casey Jones' dog.

Casey Jones (Community Affairs Director): We had been looking at the new puppies from the Humane Society of West Michigan and one day a new litter had Harry Potter names, so my wife wanted to check them out. That’s where we met Luna in the little greeting room. She immediately matched our energy and as our family has grown, she’s grown with it. She’s a protector, a loyal playful partner and adored by our children. We’re grateful we made the decision to go look at the Harry Potter puppies that day.

Mara Peverini (Producer): I got Layla through New Hope Pet Rescue. It’s a rescue organization based in Lansing that travels around the country to rescue as many animals as possible from kill shelter. Layla comes from Georgia. When I adopted her, they estimated she was 6 years old. We don’t know anything about her past. I personally believe from signs on her body and how she behaved at first that she was used to make puppies. She did not know how to walk on a leash. She was actually very scared and screaming the first times I put that on her. She didn’t play with any toys for the first 3 months. It took a lot of work for her to trust me, but now she is confident, sassy and walks next to me without a leash. She went from underweight to almost obese (according to the vet!! LOL). She brought to light this beautiful personality that I think she hid for the longest time!

Layla, Mara Peverini's dog.
Lilo, Sam Schrepferman's dog.

Sam Schrepferman (Broadcast Director): Lilo is a 4-year-old German shepherd/Malamute mix. She was adopted from Anderson Humane Society in North Aurora, Illinois, when she as only 3 months old. She is the sassiest dog who loves to say hi to everyone and will spend hours outside in the snow if you let her. Lilo has been the most caring and wonderful additive to our lives. We couldn’t imagine her not in our lives and so lucky we found such an amazing dog. 

Teresa Weakley (Anchor): This is Jack. We’ve had him for three years. We rescued him from the Kalamazoo Animal Rescue. We got him after my previous rescue, Sammy. I’d had her for 15 years when she died. A few months later, I wasn’t sure if we were ready to get another dog but we were just looking at some different rescue pages and his picture popped up. He just had such a sweet face that I just wanted to go see him. We were just in that little waiting room and Jack came out and was just the sweetest thing. He was licking Grady’s face and just had the same sweet disposition that he always has. We just knew that we had to take him home. So we did, and he’s been such a great addition to the family.