Article by Chuck Seaver, South Lake Tablet

Clear the Shelters, a pet and donation campaign is returning this year for its ninth consecutive year. The campaign sponsored by NBCUniversal kicks off on August 1st and continues through August 31st  with a focus on teaming up with hundreds of shelters across the country to help find loving homes for animals in need. More than 860K pets have found their forever homes since the program began in 2015. The 2022 campaign established a new single-year record with more than 161,000 adoptions of pets to their new families.


Two local organizations participating in the campaign include A Forever Home Animal Rescue (AFHAR), located at 2950 County Road 561, Tavares and the Orlando Cat Café located at 532 Cagan Park Avenue in the Cagan Crossings Town Center in the Four Corners community.


While both organizations are gearing up for the campaign that begins this week, the AFHAR finds itself in a difficult situation. The popular South Lake animal rescue has lost its building lease effective this December. Founder Lori Mastrantoni, a Clermont resident, states that rent and property values have made finding a new home very difficult. Mastrantoni fears that there may be no viable alternative other than to close the doors, an option that leaves her worried and fearful for the nearly 400 dogs that the shelter takes in each year.

Lori, with the help of volunteers, graciously takes in dogs from other shelters across the Lake County area. “No dog is turned away. We take senior dogs, dogs with medical issues, dogs whose owner has passed away and dogs that have experienced owner surrender cases. Each case has its own heart tug story,” says Mastrantoni.

Although donations help Lori get by in the organization’s present location, she often must personally help with the AFHAR’s monthly rent of $1500 and another $1200 minimum in food, veterinarian medical bills and building maintenance. Mastrantoni is asking people to donate or share information on any properties that may be within their price range. “I am pleading with our community. We have helped so many families rehome these loving animals. It’s now us that needs help as well,” says Mastrantoni.

To donate, visit

For information on volunteer and donation opportunities, including pet food donations, visit or call 407-221-1855.

 The second location participating in the Clear the Shelters campaign is the Orlando Cat Café and its rescue partners at SPCA Florida. As a fun adoption incentive for the month-long promotion, the partnership will be offering adopters a chance to win anywhere from 10 to 100 percent off their adoption fee. As a reminder, potential adopters are encouraged to make reservations online and review their adoption process before arriving as they have a best-match policy. All felines are spayed or neutered, microchipped, and up to date on their vaccinations and flea prevention.

The Orlando Cat Café is a cozy coffeehouse with an adjacent cat/play adoption area where you will be greeted by cats and kittens, all adoptable. Whether you are looking to add a feline family member or just looking for some old-fashioned “snuggling time”, this is the place to visit.

Visit for further information.

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