Instead of celebrating July 4 with the usual picnic, beach or boat outing, hundreds of area residents spent their day at the pound.
Ian Hallett, the new director of Hillsborough County Animals Services, invited people to a special Independence Day adopt-a-thon Wednesday. All dogs and cats were half-price for the entire day, and that included microchipping, neutering and vaccinations.
Sandra Maynard and her family drove all the way from Ellenton to take part.
"We've been looking for a little dog for some time now," she said as she forked over $37 for a terrier-mix pup named Scrappy, a stray that was found June 25.
"He was friendly, playful and really took to my husband, Ralph," Maynard said. "He just retired and needs a companion."
The animal shelter opened for six hours Wednesday to accommodate the crowd. About 30 people were waiting in line when the doors opened, including a man dressed in red, white and blue. At least 50 volunteers showed up to help the 25 staff members who worked the event.
"Even if you can't adopt a pet, you might make a great foster parent," said Animal Services spokeswoman Marti Ryan. "Every animal here deserves a good home."
Summer is always the hardest time of year to get people to adopt a dog or cat, Ryan said. People are busy traveling and much less likely to commit to a pet.
But many did just that Wednesday.
Jessica Dixon, of Plant City, adopted Lola, a 3-year-old hound mix.
She and her husband, Luke, had wanted to adopt a pit bull, but the dog they wanted had been euthanized.
"We saw Lola on the website, and once we met her we knew she was the one," Dixon said.
"She was so laid-back and had the best temperament. We can't wait to take her home."