Furry checkouts: Doggie Day Out allows you to take a shelter dog for the day
Hey, check it out. A new program at Anderson Humane allows you to borrow a dog for the day.
It's sort of like a library, only the books have fur and like to lick you.
The South Elgin shelter started its Doggie Day Out program on March 1. While the program isn't unique, it is the only one in the area, according to Dean Daubert, Anderson's chief operations officer.
"It's a way to get our animals out for some extra enrichment and time with people and socialization," he said, "but also a great way to, hopefully, get them adopted."
Daubert said it's a pretty simple program. People only need to go through a one-time process similar to what they use for those interested in fostering a dog.
After watching a 15- to 20-minute video and filling out an online form, you let the shelter know you're coming. They'll have a dog, a leash and poop bags ready to go. The leash has a QR code that links to Anderson's adoption page.
Joan Kmiecik of Campton Hills was the first participant in the program. She learned about it from Anderson's Facebook page.
"I know they do great work, and I was looking for some way to volunteer," she said. "This was a perfect opportunity."
Kmiecik took Puff, a 1-year-old female terrier/pit bull mix, on her first car ride to LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve near St. Charles. After a long walk, they hit the McDonald's drive-through for a plain hamburger. Then they went to Kmiecik's home, where Puff took a nap.
"It was nice to give her a couple of quiet hours to relax," she said.
Relaxing isn't easy at an animal shelter.
"This really gives them a break from the kennel stress," Daubert said. "This is not a natural environment for dogs to be in. It's loud. There's a lot of dogs and activity, and sometimes it can cause anxiety and stress for them."
About 10 people had checked out dogs as of a few days ago, but more than 100 had signed up to do it at some point.
The "checkout" period is normally a day. So people need to return the dog by 5:30 p.m. But Daubert says weekend and overnight visits could be accommodated.
The doggie field trips also help Anderson Humane officials get better notes on how the dogs interact when they're away from the shelter environment. People are asked to complete a short survey about the dog they spent time with.
Erin Linton, an adoption resource consultant at Anderson Humane, has taken advantage of the program. Twice she's brought Willie, a 7-year-old pit bull mix, to her Naperville home just to let him run around in the backyard and relax on her couch.
"It helps you realize what traits the dog has that you don't know in the shelter," she said.
"I've learned more about him in the past 48 hours than I did the past three months being there."
Linton started working at Anderson in November, around the same time Willie was brought there. She said they really hit it off.
"I just really, really want him to have a home," she said. "He has two disadvantages in that he's a pit bull and he's older. But he'd be the perfect dog for someone."