Rock Springs area residents can go on a date, grab a pup cup and play in the park with dogs being housed by the Red Desert Humane Society.
Shelter Manager Heidi Hernandez said the Adventure Hounds program started in June and is aimed at helping dogs get adopted by caring families.
"I've seen other shelters run similar programs and we decided to try it here," Hernandez said. "It's great for the dogs to get out of the shelter environment for a few hours where they can do fun things and get seen by people who might adopt them."
Dogs and their human play dates go for walks, play in dog parks and visit numerous local businesses that allow pets, she said. Among those are Petco, Murdoch's, Home Depot and a couple of coffee shops that offer ice cream pup cups or vanilla ice cream cones for the dogs.
Most of the people who go out with the Adventure Hounds are Red Desert Humane Society volunteers. Hernandez said there are other folks in the community who can't have pets where they live for various reasons. They're welcome to plan a doggy date too.
Jazmine Smith is a dog lover from Rock Springs. This week she took Stella, a mastiff cross, out for a few hours. They went to Deja Brew, a Rock Springs coffee shop that supports the program. After having a pup cup, Stella got to go for a long walk.
When the Adventure Hounds are out on the town, they wear bandanas to show they are up for adoption.
"It benefits the dogs and it's good therapy for me too," said Smith. "The hardest part is dropping them off at the shelter because they know where they are and are not happy about it. It's not their fault that they are homeless puppies."
Taking the dogs out in public will hopefully help them get adopted sooner, she said. Smith plans to go on an Adventure Hound date at least once a week.
"Dogs get depressed just like people," she said. "This is a good program that will move the adoption process along faster."
It’s All About Adoption
Hernandez said the program started out as an opportunity for dogs to go for walks with volunteers outside the shelter and has grown from there.
"We thought, how great would it be if they could go do stuff in the community and get seen by more people?" she said. "We encourage the volunteers to take pictures when they're out and we post them on Facebook."
The shelter houses up to 14 adult dogs at a time, all of them surrendered by owners who could no longer care for them or dogs that were moved from other shelters that were overcrowded.
The dogs are all mixed breeds ranging in age from 5 months up to adults.
"Our end goal is to get them adopted, the sooner the better," Hernandez said. "The less time they spend in the shelter, the better it is for the dog."
She added that the program is going well and they intend to keep it running as long as possible.
"We want to encourage people to think about adoptions," she said. "A lot of the adoption shelters are swimming with animals right now."