In a unique opportunity for animal lovers to enrich the lives of shelter dogs, Pet Alliance of Orlando is allowing Central Floridians to check out a dog for community outings in the fresh air and sunshine.
According to the Pet Alliance, select shelter dogs are available to be checked out seven days a week from noon to 3 p.m., for a maximum of two hours. You can take your shelter dog to any of the approved locations near each shelter, to go "for a walk, a hike, to your favorite dog friendly restaurant, or relax in a park."
"The outing is perfect for members of the community who do not want the long-term commitment of adopting, but still want to help out dogs who need a day out,” said Executive Director Steve Bardy. "Taking animals out of the shelter environment for a 'break' has been proven to improve their behavior, as well as give them exposure to potential adopters."
The two locations are in Sanford and Orlando. Your pup must be back by 5 p.m. at the latest, "so they can be tucked in for the night prior to closing."
Pet Alliance is dedicating a whole "National Hound Around Town Week" around the new program as a celebration of the organization's 83rd birthday. The week runs Monday, Sept. 23, through Sunday, Sept. 29.
To get started, participants must watch the video below and complete an online form. You must be at least 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license to participate.
Pet Alliance notes that approved dogs may be limited, and outings are scheduled on a first-come-first-serve basis.
During your outings, your shelter dog must remain on the leash and under your control at all times while you visit one of their approved outing locations. For the dogs' safety, taking them to a dog park or other off-leash dog area where they could socialize with other animals is prohibited. "Nose to nose introductions are a no, no!" according to the guidelines.
They also encourage participants to take lots of pictures and use the hashtag #houndaroundtown to spread the word.
While the celebration of "National Hound Around Town Week" officially takes place Sept. 23-29, you can participate in the Hound Around Town program itself any time.
"By implementing this initiative, we hope to encourage the more than 5,000 shelters around the country to create programming like this that connects their shelter dogs with their neighborhoods and communities," said Bardy.
Founded in 1937 as the Orlando Humane Society, Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando has two pet adoption centers and three veterinary clinics, and is dedicated "to the welfare and well-being of dogs and cats in Orange, Seminole and Osceola Counties." They assist 7,000 surrendered pets and homeless animals through their shelters each year and provide low-cost spay and neuter surgeries and animal wellness through public veterinary clinics.