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PAWS Atlanta, Inc.: Orvis Dog Enrichment Grant Report

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

We would like to extend our sincerest thanks to Orvis for their generosity to our organization. We are extremely grateful. We thank you, and the animals thank you! Grant funding from Orvis helped support PAWS Atlanta’s Holiday Lovin’ program, which we piloted during the 2017 holiday season and continued until the end of January 2018. The program is modeled off of our Summer Lovin’ program, which matches volunteers with a dog to allow our shelter pets a break away from the facility to experience extra love. Holiday Lovin’ gave both people and our dogs a chance to decompress for the day during the busy holiday season. It provided our dogs with not only a beneficial experience, but helped us increase dog adoptions as well. The grant was used to purchase animal supplies for the program (day kits). These day kits included leashes, collars/harness, dog bowls/dog food, and blankets (to protect owners' car interiors).

Some of the dogs that come into our shelter have experienced some of the most horrific abuse imaginable, and all of the dogs in our care have been abandoned, whether they are pulled from Animal Control or surrendered by their owner. New surroundings and new circumstances create an enormous amount of stress in animals. Their worlds are turned upside down. To reduce this stress, dogs (and all abandoned pets) ideally need to be placed into their “forever homes” as quickly as possible. Being able to reduce the length of stay for an animal at our facility allows us to reduce this stress and settle them into their new home. The Holiday Lovin’ program is specifically about reducing an animal’s length of stay. The grant provided by Orvis allowed us to match up our volunteer participants with dogs for this special experience and let us purchase the necessary supplies to make this happen.

How many pets did this grant help?

The grant helped all of the people and pets who participated in the program. We received 48 applications, and 21 dogs participated. Six of our dogs, so far, have been adopted.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Rio, a 6-month-old German Shepherd mix, was surrendered by his family because he sometimes had accidents in the house. Living in a shelter is stressful for most animals, but especially those who have spent their whole lives in a home. We knew Rio was up for an adventure, so we matched him up with a family for our Holiday Lovin’ foster-a-shelter-dog-for-a-day program. And off Rio went, trotting out the gate with his ears up and his tail wagging. His family loved him, and Rio loved them and everything about his day off from shelter life. He was the star of the town square in Decatur—signing autographs, posing for selfies with his new admirers, and making people laugh. Rio moved so effortlessly through his day with them, they could not believe he was just a baby. The couple fell in love, but were unsure if their landlord would allow them to adopt a dog. When they requested permission, their landlord was out of town on vacation, and they could not proceed with the adoption. They checked in on Rio every single day until they heard back a week later from their landlord. Finally, they were approved! Now, Rio is living the good life with his permanent, loving family.

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