Out of the Shelter
Tehama County Dog Adventure Program…
On any given day, the Tehama County Animal Care Center hosts up to 100 animals. While life may be better for them there than in the dangerous conditions they come from, there’s no doubt that shelter life can be stressful.
In 2021, a program called Dog Adventures was developed to bring some joy to canine residents while providing humans a chance to enjoy their company for a while. “It’s a program for people to be able to take the dogs off site,” says Christine McClintock, manager of the center, noting that some take the shelter dogs on hikes or runs while others simply run errands with them.
“The shelter’s a stressful place for dogs and we don’t always get to see their true selves,” adds McClintock. Volunteers with Dog Adventures help the staff understand how a dog will behave offsite and even prepare them for successful adoptions.
When they report back on how the outings went, staff can better determine the type of home in which the dogs will do best. Some volunteers even document their outings with photos, which make the dogs more appealing to potential adopters. “Seeing a dog in a real-life environment can really tug at the heartstrings for adopters,” McClintock adds.
“Most of our dogs tend to be Shepherds or Shepherd crosses,” she says, noting that small dogs are much more easily adopted. “A lot of people like to take the dogs that have been here the longest at the shelter.” The shelter makes it as easy as possible, sending volunteers off with a backpack that contains everything they need to have a successful outing, from leashes and snacks to water bowls and poop bags.
The program is ideal for people who aren’t in a position to have their own dog for whatever reason, but it also appeals to those who have their own dogs and want to support shelter dogs. They leave their own dogs at home, however, since the shelter dogs need one-on-one time with humans. “We keep it a solo expedition so the focus is on them,” says McClintock. “We don’t always know how other dogs will get along.”
Sometimes the knowledge of a dog’s personality is truly extraordinary. “We’ve had some dogs that we learned how great they are,” says McClintock, noting that a volunteer enjoyed one dog in particular and documented outings with notes and photos diligently. “That dog ended up being accepted into a program that trains service dogs for veterans.”
While offsite outings are certainly exciting for the dogs, good can be done right onsite at the shelter. “We always need people onsite,” says McClintock. “Sometimes people just take the dogs out here.” The important thing is providing mental stimulation for the dogs, and any amount of one-to-one interaction supports that.
The Tehama Animal Care Center was established in 1950 at its current location on Walnut Street in Red Bluff and serves needs other than shelter, including a pet food bank and medical care for animals funded by donations. To become a Dog Adventure volunteer, one need only to fill out an online application similar to what they would do for a pet adoption. “It’s not a full-time commitment,” says McClintock. “We try to make it as easy as possible.”•