Dogs Day Out
By Phil Snyder, Executive Director Suncoast Humane Society
Staff and volunteers at Suncoast Humane enjoy thinking outside the box, especially when it comes to the Pet Placement Program. A recent example of their innovative thinking has actually led to the expansion of the Society’s Pet Placement Program. The add-on is based on the theory, “If they can’t come to us, we will take it to them,” and appropriately titled “Dog’s Day Out.”
Recently volunteers, Don and Evelyn, were fostering a dog named Cracker. Cracker had been at the shelter for quite a long time and just was not receiving that much attention. It was hoped that fostering Cracker would allow him socialization opportunities that would help improve his adaptability.
During their fostering time together, Don and Evelyn realized that Cracker was a completely different animal away from the shelter environment. He seemed livelier and happier and was certain to make someone a great companion. The couple are also dog walking volunteers for Suncoast Humane Society and get to know the dogs in the shelter quite well.
Walking Cracker through neighborhoods and shopping centers, wearing an “Adopt Me” vest, was actually marketing him as an adoptable pet from Suncoast Humane Society. And bingo, it worked. He was adopted into a loving, permanent home by someone they had come in contact with while being out and about.
A few days later a shelter dog named Ranger was enjoying “Dog’s Day Out.” While being walked around a local shopping center, one of the store owners saw Ranger, fell in love, and the result, another adoption.
And then came Pluto. He had been shy and somewhat introverted during his six month stay at the shelter. He just didn’t display that “Take me Home” charisma. As with Cracker and Ranger, his “Dog’s Day Out” proved to be very successful. It was a two week effort with Pluto, spending time with Don and Evelyn in their home and greeting shoppers in front of Wal-Mart. He also spent time meeting people at area shopping centers. And then, like magic, he too met his soon-to-be family and forever home.
In addition to “Dog’s Day Out,” Suncoast Humane Society’s Pet Placement Program includes adoptions at the shelter, six satellite adoption centers, and “Dog about Town,” where multiple adoptable pets are featured at venues throughout the community. “Dog’s Day Out” differs because a single dog is actually fostered until adopted.
Dogs that have been hard to place or have been at the shelter for an extended period of time are selected for “Dog’s Day Out.” More qualified volunteers will be needed for the project to expand. It worked wonders for Cracker, Ranger and Pluto. Staff and volunteers at Suncoast Humane Society can’t wait for future success stories. I am sure that if they could speak, Cracker, Ranger and Pluto would be saying “Some people may think that the adoption of one, two or three pets is not that important, but to our new families and us, it is everything.”