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More Local Shelters Need a "Dog on Demand/Doggy Day Out" Program

Updated: Jun 18

If you're here, chances are you haven't read my last blog, where I shared my experience with Maui Humane Society's "Dog on Demand" program. I highly encourage you to check it out, but to sum it up: it was an A-M-A-Z-I-N-G experience! As a pet portrait artist and rescue dog advocate, I was naturally curious to see if any shelters in sunny Orange County, California, offered a similar program.

The Search for Local Dog Day Out Programs

Sadly, upon doing some intensive research, I found that there isn't any local shelter that offers the public an opportunity to take a pup out for the day. In fact, the closest shelter is the San Diego Humane Society, where they offer their Dog Day Out program. According to, there are only nine shelters listed in California that offer similar programs, and San Diego Humane isn't even on this list. This makes it really hard to find local shelters that offer the public a chance to take a dog out for the day. You either have to travel far or, like I did, wait until you're on vacation to join programs like "Dogs on Demand."

The Need for "Dog on Demand" Programs

Reducing Shelter Stress

Despite the best efforts of staff and volunteers, shelter environments can be stressful for dogs. The constant noise, confinement, and lack of one-on-one human interaction can lead to anxiety and behavioral issues. "Dog on Demand" programs allow dogs to take a break from the shelter, experience different environments, and enjoy one-on-one time with volunteers. This significantly reduces their stress levels, making them happier and healthier.

Increasing Adoption Rates

When dogs are seen outside the shelter environment, potential adopters can witness their true personalities. A shy or anxious dog in the shelter might be energetic and playful in a park. These outings provide valuable insights into a dog's behavior, making it easier for potential adopters to envision the dog as part of their family. Increased visibility and positive interactions can lead to higher adoption rates.

Community Engagement

These programs foster a sense of community involvement and awareness about the shelter's mission. Volunteers who participate often become advocates for the shelter, sharing their experiences and encouraging others to adopt or volunteer. This community engagement can lead to more support for the shelter in terms of donations, volunteers, and adoptions.

White dog with blue eyes laying on couch.

A Successful Model: Maui Humane Society "Dog on Demand" Program

As I mentioned earlier, my heartwarming experience with Maui's "Dogs on Demand" program involved spending a day with Pearl, a rescue dog. This program allows visitors to take a dog out for the day at no cost, giving them the opportunity to explore the island, go on hikes, or simply enjoy some quiet time together.

During my day with Pearl, I was able to create a custom pet portrait of her, capturing her joyful spirit and playful nature. Shortly after our outing, Pearl was adopted, and her new owners were thrilled to receive the artwork as a keepsake. This not only highlighted the positive impact of the program but also the joy it brought to Pearl's new family. [Watch a short video of Pearl's Day out with Tiffany.]

Benefits Observed in Maui

  • Enhanced Well-being: Pearl, like many other dogs in the program, thrived on the day out. She was able to run freely (on a leash), socialize, and relax in a way that the shelter environment does not always allow.

  • Positive Publicity: The program brought attention to the shelter's efforts and highlighted the benefits of adopting a rescue dog. Sharing Pearl's story on social media garnered a lot of positive reactions and interest in the shelter.

  • Increased Adoptions: The program has a track record of increasing adoptions, as potential adopters get to see the dogs in a different light.

Implementing a "Dog on Demand" or "Doggy Day Out" program in Orange County shelters could bring about significant positive changes—not just in Orange County, but in cities across the US. These programs not only improve the well-being of the dogs but also enhance their chances of finding forever homes. By engaging the community and showcasing the wonderful personalities of these dogs, Orange County shelters can create a more compassionate and supportive environment for rescue animals.

It's time for Orange County to take inspiration from successful programs like Maui Humane Society and introduce similar initiatives. The benefits are clear, and the potential to transform the lives of shelter dogs and the community is overdue. Let's advocate for our local shelters to embrace this innovative approach and make a difference in the lives of countless dogs waiting for their forever homes.

follow me on Instagram and Facebook for all of my dog-related content, where I often do free pet portrait giveaways.

Note, for anyone who is reading this, I am very much interested in building out a program like this in Orange County, CA. Besides creating custom pet art, I have served various roles where I have built statewide programs in higher education. Feel free to connect with me on this.

**For any animal rescue/shelter volunteers or staff, I always create custom pet art for free. Please reach out to me via email: together lets help get more pups adopted!



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