Do you have a serious case of puppy fever, but lack the time or resources to adopt one of your own? Well, Pima Animal Care Center has the cure for you. The new Day Trip and Pawjama Party program invites people to take a dog home for as long as they like.
The program is a win-win for the shelter and puppy lovers alike, according to marketing and placement coordinator Rachel Jones.
“We’re always looking for more ways to engage with the community and give our shelter animals a break, and this is a really great way to do both,” Jones said.
The program was developed by adult dog foster coordinator Patricia O’Grady who drew inspiration from similar programs being implemented around the country.
“Our dogs here stay in a kennel for 23 hours every day, and just getting off shelter property for 30 minutes is enough to reduce their stress levels, and bring them back more relaxed and more adoptable,” Jones said.
PACC spokesperson Nikki Reck said the day trip and overnight program, along with the new name-your-own-price initiative, will make a big difference in finding homes for more than 700 animals currently living at the shelter.
“The summer months tend to be a bit busier with the amount of animals we take in; we’re quite full right now,” Reck said. “Anyone who can help with this program or adopt, we’re ready.”
Participating in the program is relatively easy. All you need to sign up is a driver’s license. Before leaving with a dog, PACC will provide a binder of kennel cards featuring dogs eligible for the program. Dogs are selected by the behavior team at PACC to ensure the animals are well socialized and comfortable with people.
Once you decide on a dog, PACC requires a short-term foster care agreement and contact information. The shelter asks that dogs are returned at least two hours before closing.
Jones said the program is intended to be as approachable as possible.
“Trusting people and eliminating barriers has rewarded us tenfold,” she said.
While PACC doesn’t want to limit your temporary adventures, there are a few things to keep in mind.
“We ask that use your common sense as far as where you go with this dog,” Jones said. “The only real rules are that you have a good time, that you don’t meet any other dogs nose to nose or let the animal off leash.”
Reck said in the short time that the program has been instituted, there’s been a handful of adoptions.
The exposure the dogs in the program receive on social media has helped a number of them find a home as well.
Laurie Fenske is a participant in the program who said she’s amazed by the animals she’s spent time with.
“The experiences have all been great, because they’re all just so joyful,” Fenske said.
The Fenske family’s yorkshire terrier died in February, and left them with a missing piece in their lives. While they didn’t have the time or resources to adopt a new dog, they asked themselves, “How can we make a difference?”
That’s when they found the Day Trip and Pawjama Party program. Since then, they’ve taken out three different dogs: Missy, Melanie and Trinity.
“You can contribute on different levels,” Fenske said. “We had one dog for four days; we loved her and we got her adopted.”
Fenske said she hopes that the flexibility will appeal to people who can’t commit to adoption or long term foster care.
“It helps a lot with their stress levels,” she said. “You really get back more than you give.”
Chandler Donald is a University of Arizona journalism student and Tucson Local Media intern.