In addition to adopting the ten-millionth pet, the DeLaRosa family also decided to give a home to a neglected Siberian husky named Balto. At the time of Balto's first meeting with the De La Rosas, the De La Rosas had no intention of adopting a dog.
'Our family was going to PetSmart to buy an algae eater for the aquarium,' Vanessa De La Rosa tells PEOPLE about the day Balto met her family. 'It was PetSmart Charities' pet adoption event that weekend, so they had a tent outside. We decided to browse around first before we entered the store,' Vanessa says.
It is not uncommon for a pet lover to end up taking home a newly adopted pet after browsing adoptable animals. One of Vanessa's three children, Ezri, and their son quickly grew attached to a husky with piercing blue eyes and a friendly disposition.
The more my son interacted with Balto, the stronger the bond I saw between them became. After Balto was on the leash, someone gave my son a dog toy, and he played with him, and Balto never made us feel nervous at all,' Vanessa recalls of this first encounter. 'He never barked and was very calm.'
A few minutes later, Balto was born and the De La Rosas realized their 'browsing' had turned into an action plan to bring one more puppy home. When they learned more about Balto's backstory, they quickly decided to adopt him. Balto lived outside chained up with minimal human interaction before being rescued.
In reaction to Balto's history, Ezri says, 'We had to take him.' Vanessa agrees, saying Balto needs an environment where he can move freely and interact with his surroundings. Balto's new life was very important to the De La Rosas, so they were happy to provide it.
Our mistake was to ignore the algae eater when we signed the paperwork, Vanessa says. He has continued to open up to his new family, even after being shy and fearful when he first arrived at the shelter. After gradual introductions to his siblings, Balto has become a good friend to the De La Rosa family's other dogs.
It took some time for him to interact and get comfortable in the new setting. He digs holes together. He tears up toys together. Like we were saying, all our pups are almost like brothers because they have really bonded.' 'He's definitely been a favorite of our kids. They love giving him belly rubs and taking him for walks, and they make sure he knows no wrong.'
Balto's new owners hope that their story will inspire others to give rescue pets a second chance, and it was no surprise when they realized he was PetSmart Charities' 10 millionth adoption.
The cute dog's new owners hope that the story will inspire others to provide pets with a second chance. 'What people need to know is that these pets need love. They become your best friends. It's true. They really become loyal to you.' Vanessa explains.
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