"puppy parole" (or "pooch parole")
I recently mentioned to some friends (who had adopted one of our foster dogs)
that our local shelter can be used as a "doggy lending library."
I suggested that they could audition a dog who they thought might get along well
with their dog and cat by fostering for as brief a time as they wanted.
They seemed surprised that they could get a dog with such a small commitment.
Short-term shelter dog foster care might just be a secret that needs to be shared.
Adding a dog to a family should be a major permanent commitment.
The shelter is evidence that such commitments are frequently broken but there
is significant demand for canine companionship.
I contend that there is a large group of people who are not involved with animal
shelters but would benefit from providing short-term foster care.
Tailoring a program to suit these people will allow us to tap a new resource for
This program should be treated separately from established foster care and adoption programs.
The goal is to involve people who have not shown a sufficient interest in those programs.
target "puppy parole officers"
families who are considering adopting/purchasing a puppy/dog immediately or in the future
parents who really don't want a dog but have kids who do
grandparents and parents who have shared custody and would like to have a dog
when the children are there
students who would enjoy having a dog on weekends, during breaks, etc.
anyone who wants to care for a dog but just can't commit to always having the
time and effort available for it
While it would be great if participants in this program decide to commit to keeping
the dogs they parole, this should be viewed as an unexpected gift.
The goals should be to provide dogs with some off-site socialization and to
provide people with companionship and experience with dogs.
It could turn out that it is even more valuable to have participants in this
program than to lose them as a result of adoption of a dog.
By hosting dogs on a regular basis, participants will become community conduits to the
Participants will be able to spread information about dogs in the shelter and perhaps help
to place many animals instead of adopting just one.
At the very least, more people should become aware that there are wonderful dogs in the
shelter as a result of these dogs getting out in the community.
benefits to dogs
time away from noise of shelter
socialization with other dogs and people in a home environment
exposure to more potential adopters
benefits to people
companionship of a dog
easy pick up/easy drop off, low commitment term
exposure to many sizes, breeds, and ages of dogs
Don't aim for adoption.
Appreciate the benefits of short-term foster.
Provide vaccinations at shelter when feasible.
Provide low-cost arrangement with local vets for other vaccinations (like rabies).
Have "parole days" where families are encouraged to visit and play with dogs together.
This could be especially good the day before the shelter is closed (so that families
will foster dogs when they won't be on display anyway).
Advertise the program as a way to try different kinds of dogs at different ages.
It's a way to learn about dogs and about children.
Keep the commitment low.
Don't allow families to become too frustrated.
(A little frustration will be educational.)
Have a "parole board" who can be contacted at any time for advice or to arrange to
take back a dog that is causing problems (even after hours).
Have off-site events for participants.
Organize play sessions at a park with supervision by "parole board" members who can handle lots of
new dogs in the hands of novices.
Work with schools and other programs (scouts?) to make this a recognized community service
Encourage, for example, students to show their dogs at school by providing a handler to
Provide some "branding" of the program.
"Puppy Parole Officer" T-shirts and hats would be an inexpensive way to advertise,
especially among children.
Distinctive "out on parole" dog collars/harnesses/vests/tags would advertise that dogs are
available for adoption.
Use local media to advertise.
("Skippy was sentenced to life in the shelter for the crime of not matching the new
furniture. You can get him out on parole.")
Provide easily-accomplished "parole officer" training as part of enrolling in the program.
Use information from enrollment to help match with available dogs on a continuing basis.
Get input from existing foster families.
Ensure that they realize how valued their commitment is and continues to be, and that they
understand that this program seeks to include people who aren't in a position to make the
same level of commitment.
Provide a crate, collar, tag, and leash with every dog.
Work with local merchants to provide discounts to participants, not only for dog-related
items but for meals, etc.
("Once you've exhausted Skippy, let him get cozy in his crate while you enjoy a $XX discount off a massage and meal courtesy of...")
Incorporate some dog training into the program.
Feature the foster families in the Petfinder photos and encourage them to write text for the
Get everyone on TV.
What's the maximum time for fostering? Are fosters dissuaded from indefinite fostering?
Should dogs be neutered before being fostered?
Manage this object.