The pet adoption reunited one man with his dog who had run away.
BOARDMAN -- Anyone familiar with the film "Homeward Bound" knows the tale of a steadfast lost pet finding its way back home.
Dave McLain of Canfield and his dog Freddy shared their own Disney-esque moment at Saturday afternoon's National Pet Adoption Day at Petco, 317 Boardman-Poland Road.
McLain first adopted the young Chow mix from the Mahoning County Kennel late last year. About a month later, the coy dog made a successful break for freedom.
"He bit through his leash and got loose. I couldn't find him," said McLain, who spent weeks searching local shelters and pounds for the lost pet.
Saturday morning, McLain received a call from a friend who had spotted Freddy at the Petco event. McLain rushed to the store and was reunited with Freddy for the first time in several months.
Freddy was found and rescued a month ago by Promises for Pets, a no-kill organization and a partner in the two-day event, which continues today. Other local partners include Angels for Animals, which offers foster and adoption services for homeless and abandoned animals.
This weekend was the eighth year for Petco Store's nationwide adoption event. With support from Petfinder.com, the nation's top Internet-based pet-adoption organization, Petco and Petco Foundation were able to match 12,511 animals with homes during the 2004 campaign.
Boardman Petco store manager Jim Hall said the adopt-a-thon attracted attention early on and he hopes it will help bring focus to the issue of pet overpopulation and homelessness.
"Five minutes after we were here, someone took home a Sheltie," Hall said. "This event is to raise awareness of how many animals are homeless."
The adopt-a-thon features about a dozen or more cats and dogs of all breeds, ages and temperaments. Kathy Aaron of Promises for Pets said interactive adoption sessions are a good way to facilitate smooth adoptions and raise community awareness.
"You really need to get the animals out in the public," Aaron said. "You need to get the interaction. Most times, the animal will adopt the person."
Aaron also said events such as Pet Adoption Days help people determine which animal is the best fit for their family or living situation.
"You don't want to match a high-energy dog to an older couple or a big family with lots of kids to a nervous cat," said Aaron, who has worked with animal rescue organizations for 15 years.
Joie Humphrey of Angels said the event was a welcome opportunity to find homes for pets, but also to educate the public about pet overpopulation and the need to spay and neuter animals.
"That's the main emphasis," Humphrey said.
Petco does not sell animals, but provides free space for the local shelters to showcase pets during the event. In addition, the store will provide new pet owners with an adoption booklet with discounts on Petco products. The store also will accept donations for its Spring a Pet foundation, which benefits local animal welfare programs.
As for McLain and Freddy, the Canfield man admits it was pure luck that brought the two back together.
Of course, there will be a few minor adjustments with the reunion.
"They named him Luther," McLain said, jokingly calling the dog by both names.
"It really is a great story," Aaron said.