Camden County Animal Shelter developed a new program to enrich the lives of shelter dogs and give those who don’t have dogs a chance to spend quality time with a furry companion.
The Rent-A-Dog program allows individuals to take a dog for a hike, a walk in a local park, a trip to the beach, a car ride or to just spend a lunch break cuddling.
John Dutton, a dog renter and Stratford resident, says he appreciates bonding with the shelter dogs and hopes to one day adopt one of his own.
“I used to have a dog and now I can’t have a dog where I live because I rent. I’ve wanted a dog for a long time. If you love animals and you love dogs, this program is super exciting,” he said.
Before renting dogs, shelter staff ensure the canines are healthy, taken care of and up-to-date on shots. In the process, they also make sure the dogs are lovable and friendly.
“Socially, they are ready to go. We spend a lot of time in our program to make sure that our dogs are adoptable, 100 percent lovable, and ready to go and that’s exactly what kind of dog you’re getting when you come here,” said Camden County Freeholder Jonathan Young.
Mike Bricker, director of shelter operations for Camden County, as well as Sara Sharp, the shelter’s foster care coordinator, helped initiate the program.
“I was just at a conference a few months ago in Austin, Texas and that’s when the idea kind of spurred. Me and a few colleagues, we talked about having this program at a shelter and what that would look like,” said Bricker. “So I came back with that idea, and through the help of Sara we connected and made it into a policy that fit our shelter.”
The process of renting a dog is simple. Dog lovers first choose which one they would like to spend time with. From there, kennel staff take the dog and prospective renters to the “get acquainted room” where they get to know each other while going over the rules. Then, applicants fill out a questionnaire while staff discuss the do’s and don’ts of handling the dog.
The hope is that this program will improve the quality of life for shelter dogs, while helping to find forever homes.
“We had one dog get adopted on the third day we did it,” said Bricker. “Now we are going to have our second adoption today. It’s been great so far. I can’t wait to see what it holds for the future.”