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Animal shelter holds Doggie Day Out

New program gives dogs a day outside of shelter, reduces crowding
Elodie is an 11-month-old shepherd cross available for adoption at the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter. (Brad Ryan/Special to Tri-City Record)

Elodie has called the Farmington Animal Shelter her home since May 8, when she was taken in as a public drop-off. She is one of 74 dogs being kenneled at the shelter.

“Once we hit 60, we know things are getting pretty tight,” said Animal Shelter Director Stacie Voss. “It’s not unheard of to have 100 dogs in our care.”

With all these dogs, it is difficult for staff to give them affection and attention. This is why the shelter started a new program aimed at providing dogs with a day outside the facility.

The Doggie Day Out allows potential adopters or volunteers to take a dog out of the shelter for a day, or even a sleepover to provide it with one-on-one attention.

Elodie had her day out in Berg Park on June 18. She went on a one-hour walk through the park and showed off her calm and somewhat nurturing personality. She was happy smelling the plants and hearing the river run by. She also was intent on watching a child playing on a bicycle.

Elodie is walking on a leash with an adopt me tag on it. (Brad Ryan/Special to Tri-City Record)

This is just one example of what a Doggie Day Out could be, according to Amber Francisco, community program manager at the shelter.

“They can be gone anywhere from an hour to all day long. We do offer sleepover events,” Francisco said, adding in order to participate a person has register online. “If they sign up, they’re not taking a dog that day.”

Francisco said there is planning the goes along with the day out. Participants are provided with everything they might need to care for the dog. “We send them with a harness, poop bags. We have adopt me things that go over the back of their leashes,” she said.

Dogs are fitted with adopt me bandannas and a bag of treats. “Whatever they need, we’ll send with them,” Francisco said.

These are some of the items that go out with a dog, when it is participating in the Doggie Day Out program at the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter. (Brad Ryan/Special to Tri-City Record)

The hope is that while a dog is out and about someone might be interested in coming to the shelter to adopt it, so the participants are provided with postcards or business cards with the dogs name on it.

“So if somebody is interested in adopting a dog while they’re out, they can hand them that and say here is our information,” Francisco said.

Shelter staff has worked to get creative in ways to find homes for the animals. This can include discounted adoption prices, spinning a wheel to adopt a kitten and winning a discount, fostering and now the Doggie Day Out, Voss said.

Voss added that COVID changed the “sheltering world” with the shelter being 90% to 95% full all the time.

“The dogs are staying longer, and transfer hasn’t been an option as much, because it’s a nationwide problem,” Voss said. “Dogs are staying here longer, and with the cat situation, we’re in the middle of kitten season.”

Francisco said both the Doggie Day Out and the shelter’s Foster to Adopt program offers people a chance to see if the dog is good fit for them and their family. While the day out is a short visit with the dog, the “foster to adopt” allows potential owners to take an animal for up to two weeks.

“They can see if the dog likes cats, because that’s something we can’t 100% guarantee here at the shelter,” Francisco said. “So it just gives them another opportunity to get the dog out in a home.”

If the dog doesn’t work for that potential owner, the dog comes back to the shelter, “and then we have a little bit more information about that dog for the next potential adopter,” Francisco said.

And what happens if a person doesn’t return the dog or pay the adoption fee? Well, Voss said in the interest of an animal finding a home. “That sense of control, we’ve had to let go of a lot in the last few years.”

“That’s why we expanded the foster program and why we’re doing this because like if they decide to keep it, OK, it’s in a home,” she said.

Voss said they prefer that people come back and fill out the paperwork and pay the adoption fee, but all animals that leave the shelter are all spayed or neutered, have had their first vaccinations and they are microchipped.

To participate in the Doggie Day Out program, apply online at FarmingtonNM.gov/DayOut.