The Kingsport animal shelter (or PETWorks) is encouraging community members to participate in Doggie’s Day Out. The new program allows you to check out a shelter dog for a day of exercise and fun outside the shelter.
“We think, ‘What better way to get Kingsport citizens out walking than to have them take a dog with them that’s otherwise sitting at a shelter bored to death all day long?’ ” said Mindy Frazier, shelter volunteer.
How did the program begin?
Frazier said the idea stemmed from her love of hiking and walking with her dogs, both of which she adopted from the shelter. But after realizing they were getting too old for strenuous activity, she came up with a new plan.
“Last year I thought, ‘There are 80 perfectly great dogs sitting in kennels at the animal shelter where I volunteer, and I never even dreamed of going over there and just checking one out for the day,’ ” Frazier said.
She pitched the idea for Doggie’s Day Out to shelter director Donna Davidson, who eagerly approved. Since last summer, they have been promoting the program on social media and have already had quite a few people participate.
How does it work?
Simply go to the Kingsport animal shelter and tell the staff you’re there for Doggie’s Day Out. You will then need to fill out a short form and provide a copy of your driver’s license as a safety measure for the dogs, Frazier said.
Certain dogs have been pre-selected by shelter staff as good fits for the program based on their temperament and friendliness toward people and other animals, Frazier said. Those dogs’ kennels are marked with gold stars to make the selection process easier.
Once you’ve chosen a dog, shelter staff will outfit it with a harness, a leash and a bandana that says ‘Adopt Me.’ When the animal is on its Doggie’s Day Out, this allows people in the community to see that the dog is from the shelter and needs a home, Frazier said.
She added that there are plenty of pet-friendly places to take a dog on its day out, including the Greenbelt, Bays Mountain Park, Warriors Path State Park or Roan Mountain. Several stores and restaurants in the community also allow dogs, Frazier said.
While out with the dog, you can also take photos or videos and share them with the shelter or on your personal social media accounts. This gives the dog even more exposure.
“We’re hoping that would encourage people to adopt when they see a dog playing out on the Greenbelt or hiking up Roan Mountain,” Frazier said. “You’re more able to see how that dog would incorporate into your life.”
When can you check out a dog?
Dogs can be checked out during the shelter’s normal business hours of 12:30-5:30 p.m. every day except Wednesday and Sunday. Those who would like to check out a dog earlier in the day can do so by coming to the back of the building and notifying staff, who usually arrive around 9 a.m., Frazier said.
Those who want to take a dog on an all-day trip can fill out a foster form, which will allow them to keep the dog overnight and return it the next day, Frazier added.
Why should you participate?
Aside from increasing adoptions and allowing the dogs to get exercise, Frazier said she hopes the program will increase the volunteer base at the shelter and encourage community members to be more active.
“It’ll actually get them in the door, let them see some animals, increase adoptions, increase our volunteer base, get the animals exercising and get the citizens exercising,” Frazier said. “So it’s got a lot of positives, we think, for the community as a whole, other than just for the shelter.”
For more information about the program, contact Frazier at RNmin5@gmail.com or call the shelter at (423) 247-1671.