What do you get when you cross a library with an animal shelter? Pima Animal Care Center’s Daytrip and Pawjama Party Program.
PACC is offering anyone with a soft spot for furry friends the opportunity to spend an afternoon, evening or even a few days with a shelter dog of their choice.
Clients check out a dog much like a book at a library using a binder of potential dogs that are good candidates. The profiles of various shelter dogs can help potential clients find one that suits their lifestyle or ability, such as being well-behaved on a leash or good with kids.
“We know that [these dogs] enjoy being around other people and other dogs in the community,” said Nikki Reck, PACC public information officer, regarding the dogs that are chosen to be sent out.
Rachel Jones, adult dog foster coordinator for PACC, said the day trip program has been in place since August 2018 and was inspired by the success of similar programs at shelters across the country.
“A lot of the animals that went out on day trips ended up getting fostered for a longer term or adopted,” Jones said. “We’ve definitely seen the same types of things happening here. It’s been a really beneficial program for a lot of our dogs.”
According to Reck, the benefits are mutual for both human and canine participants in the program.
“Any time you can get [the dogs] out of the shelter is good for their mental well-being,” Reck said. “It’s like a mini vacation.”
“Sometimes clients are not sure if they’re ready for the responsibility,” Reck added. According to her, the day trip program is a way for people considering adoption to determine if they’re ready.
The low-commitment aspect of the PACC’s day trip program can make it a great option for UA students stuck in Tucson for the holidays due to travel expenses or work.
“We probably get more college students than anyone else,” Jones said.
According to Reck, the program enables students to put a furry friend when they’re missing their own pets from home.
Jones oversees the dogs who are eligible for the day trip program at PACC. According to Jones, dogs who participate in the program come back to the shelter less stressed than when they left.
“Getting to expend energy and get mental stimulation and physical enrichment for a few hours out of the kennel is so much more than they typically get,” Jones said. “Oftentimes they return relaxed and more presentable to the public.”
According to Reck, the program has resulted in a few dogs finding forever homes.
“Sometimes they come back and they’re like, ‘So can we just keep him?’” Reck said.
Ryan Endsley, a UA graduate student in astronomy, is a regular participant in the PACC program and has completed 10 day trips and overnight visits with various shelter dogs. He commented on the effectiveness of the program in finding dogs permanent homes.
“I love the fact that I’m able to help dogs get adopted someday,” Endsley said. “Whenever I take a dog back in, it’s usually within one or two weeks that I see the dog has been taken off their availability list, which means that the dog has been adopted.”
Program participants also get to fill out a report card for their canine companion at the end of every trip.
“I always give them all A’s because they’re always fantastic,” Endsley said.
Because of his busy schedule and living situation, Endsley said he will definitely continue participating in the program.
“It’s satisfying to know that you’re helping the creature get out of the unfortunate situation they’ve been in,” Endsley said, “even if it’s just for a few hours.”
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