Unique Foster Program Helping Shelter Dogs to Thrive

“She is a very sweet girl, and it was hard to get her to come out of her kennel. But I brought her to my office for a couple of days and then took her home one night. That made all the difference in the world.”

6.9.14 - Unique Foster Program Helping Shelter Dogs to Thrive2

There is a new day program put into place at the Durham County Animal Shelter in North Carolina with the hopes of being beneficial not just to the people they get to interact with, but good for them as well.  Dogs can be signed out for the day giving them a chance to stretch their legs, and spend some time outside of the kennel.

Anyone knows, being cooped up for too long can be quite stressful on humans, and it’s just as bad for our canine friends as well.  Being a shelter dog waiting for that forever family can mean weeks at a time stuck in a kennel.  Coupled with the fact that volunteers don’t really have enough time in a day to spend with each dog on an individual basis given the number of dogs staying with them, it’s not hard to see how a program like this would work wonders for all involved.

“A kennel environment for a month or more just doesn’t provide the stimulation that they need,” said Stephanie Kirby, APS volunteer coordinator.  “Getting to see and smell new things and to play can help a dog keep it together mentally.”

Kirby first saw how this type of program could help when she decided to take a shelter dog home for the night.

“Dawn, a hound mix, is a very nervous, shy dog,” she said.  “She is a very sweet girl, and it was hard to get her to come out of her kennel.  But I brought her to my office for a couple of days and then took her home one night.  That made all the difference in the world.”

Ever since, Dawn has a very serious boost in confidence and seems to be worlds happier.

“It turned her around tremendously,” Kirby said.  “She’s just more comfortable now.”

Dogs are taken by volunteers to places like Duke University’s East Campus and Ninth Street.  The dogs are easily recognized by special vests they wear that remind people that the shelter has many great dogs available, and looking for that forever home with a loving family.

“The program is becoming more popular,” Kirby said.  “Any of our trained APS dog volunteers who have undergone orientation and training and have volunteered at the shelter at least three months are able to sign a dog out.”

Volunteers are still needed to take dogs in for longer term fostering as well.  The shelter wants to remind people looking for a rewarding way to help out with dogs and cats needing a place to stay, or special help that can only truly be provided by an in home foster program are always needed and welcomed.

“Day foster is great,” she said.  “But getting them out of the shelter permanently through full-time fostering or adoption is our ultimate goal.”

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