MARYSVILLE, Wash. — Every month, dozens of rescued dogs and cats are united with their “forever homes” at a parking lot in Marysville.
The early-morning adoption event is organized by Three Little Pitties Rescue, a non-profit based in Texas.
"Houston has a huge problem with dog overpopulation and so they bring them up to the Pacific Northwest where we have tons of adopters and a very dog-friendly environment,” said Erin Walsh, who adopted her own dog from the rescue organization and now works with them.
Adopters are matched with animals in advance, then the animals are driven across the country in a giant semi-truck in one 36-hour trip. Their new owners arrive from across Western Washington to pick them up, in what amounts to a drive-by adoption.
"Each adopter drives their car up and they get the dog off the truck and they're united right there,” Walsh said.
Christopher and Ashlee Jackson made the pre-dawn drive from Kenmore to meet their new puppy, Elvis.
"I'm way too excited to go to sleep right now,” Christopher said, laughing.
"I'm going to cry, 100%," Ashlee added. "I'm going to be so excited I'll start crying.”
Jack and Amber Sassenfeld made an even longer trek from Hansville on the Kitsap Peninsula. They adopted a dog named Juno.
“4:45 a.m. is when we left — yeah, we got up early,” Jack said. “(But) a home does not feel like a home without a dog."
In addition to Juno, 132 other dogs and cats were also on the truck. All of them were matched with adopters and foster families — some, as far north as Canada.
Sherry Phay, another adopter-turned-volunteer, picked up a group of dogs to drive them to the border.
“It is Christmas Day,” she said. "I mean, I know the joy that my dogs bring to me, and to be able to give that to someone else is just a gift."
The timed experience also allows adopters to make connections with each other.
Greg Gagnon and his wife adopted a dog named Tio Billy.
"His mom is getting adopted too, two cars behind us. So that's really cool,” he said. “We're actually going to hook up so we can have them still meet up together."
The truck also makes stops in the South Sound and Vancouver, Washington.