Puppy love for shelter animals

Doggie Dates program offers weekend-long pet matchups

Callie the dog is available for Doggie Dates through the Winnipeg Animal Services program.

Photo by Callie Lugosi

The City’s Animal Services Agency’s (ASA) new Doggie Dates program is starting off strong.

Doggie Dates is “a way for people to take out a dog for a day, a weekend or just a week and really just interact with the dog and give the dog a break from animal services and help give that dog some exposure in the community, hopefully leading to an adoption,” Leland Gordon, ASA’s chief operating officer says.

Gordon says the program is designed for people who do not have a specific dog and adoption plan in mind, who might not be sure if they want to adopt or who cannot have dogs in their home due to allergies or rules against pets.

“But (if) you want to help give our animals a break and maybe you want some doggy loving, then this is the program for you,” Gordon says.

Participants need to plan the length of the date with ASA, and they will screen participants and match them with a dog suitable to their experience level. First-time participants must make a deposit roughly equivalent to the adoption fee, which is returned when the dogs is back
with the ASA.

The program is based on the Dog Staycation program operated by the Winnipeg Humane Society (WHS), which began in May this year.

Lenore Hume, a WHS spokesperson, says the program lets six potential owners take a medium- or large-size dog into their home for the weekend. It also has a screening process for participants to ensure that they are responsible and get a dog that is suited to their circumstances.

Hume says the program has a number of benefits, such as showing the WHS how individual dogs behave in homes, giving dogs a more stimulating and relaxing environment, allowing potential owners to get a better sense of a dog they may be considering adopting and providing mental and physical health benefits to the people participating.

“Studies show the health benefits of being around the companionship of animals and the good that that does to your well-being, so it really is an opportunity and an innovative program for people to get that benefit but also to see what it’s like to own a pet,” Hume says.

Hume says the program works with large and medium dogs, because smaller dogs tend to be more easily adopted, because they require less space.

So far, both programs have been successful in giving dogs long term homes and a healthier experience in the shelter.   

Since the program began, Gordon says there have been 30 doggy dates and eight adoptions, some from doggy daters, and some by friends or through getting exposure.

“What we’ve seen in the past month is a bunch of really good members of the community who really just want to help out animal services and get some of these dogs out there, and it’s been very nice working with these people who just want to help and want to spend time with dogs,” Gordon says.

Doggie Dates can be set up by dialing 311or going to the ASA building at 1057 Logan Ave.

Published in Volume 73, Number 7 of The Uniter (October 25, 2018)

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