Pets

Front Street’s new foster program allows volunteers to adopt a shelter dog for a day

You can adopt a dog for a day at this shelter. Here’s why people do it

The Front Street Animal shelter new program allows dogs to be adopted for the day. We talked to one man about why he does it on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019.
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The Front Street Animal shelter new program allows dogs to be adopted for the day. We talked to one man about why he does it on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019.

A yellow leash emblazoned with “ADOPT ME” stretched forward as Lucy Rose, a small, 2-year old bully mix, slowly sniffed her way down a sidewalk at Ice Blocks in midtown Sacramento on a Wednesday afternoon.

Lucy is an adoptable dog from Front Street Animal Shelter, out for the day as part of Front Street’s “Doggie Day Out” program.

The program lets volunteers take dogs out for short-term fosters, ranging from a couple of hours to sleepovers, said Bobby Mann, communications director at Front Street. The program launched just two months ago and has been hugely popular; Mann said Front Street can’t keep enough dogs in the program to meet demand.

Zayn Silmi picked Lucy up and took her along as he went about his day, giving her a breath of fresh air and exposing her to plenty of new people, one of whom Silmi hoped might fall in love and adopt her.

Silmi is a busy guy — he founded and runs “The People of Sacramento” blog and associated social media platforms. He had meetings to get to in the Ice Blocks and a store to check in on at Downtown Commons Wednesday, and took Lucy along for the ride.

While taking a brief respite at his loft, Silmi made sure to take time to photograph Lucy, so he could post her on social media to reach even more potential adopters.

“I want to use my platform to promote something I’m really passionate about,” Silmi said.

Silmi said he takes dogs out as often as he can, and to as many events as he can. He’s been involved with Front Street for a long time, originally as a long-term foster provider; he’s lost track of how many dogs he’s fostered, but keeps photos of them all.

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Zayn Silmi, left, takes his adoptable dog Lucy Rose to a business meeting on Wednesday, January 23, 2019 in Sacramento. Front Street Shelter’s “doggie day out” program lets people rent a dog for a few hours to a day. Paul Kitagaki Jr. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

The Doggie Day Out program allows dogs to have this experience every day and decreases stress for dogs usually cooped up in the shelter. Mann said that there are usually six to eight dogs in the program at a time, and they prioritize dogs who have been at the shelter a long time.

He said many of the dogs get checked out almost daily by people who take them on walks or runs, to restaurants, events, hiking or just home to snuggle on the couch. Dogs stay in the program until they get adopted, and then a new dog enters the program.

Front Street asks Doggie Day Out fosters what their plans are and matches them with the best dog for the day, Mann said. For example, if they’re going hiking or running, they’ll get an energetic dog who can keep up.

In return, volunteers just have to take some photos of the pup and report back to Front Street with anything new they’ve learned about the dog — habits, favorite toys and behaviors.

Silmi learned that Lucy is not much the playing type. She ignored a tire toy he keeps in his loft in favor of treats and sniffing every corner of the apartment. While sniffing, she made a little snorting sound, akin to a piglet.

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Adoptable dog Lucy Rose sit on the lap of Zayn Silmi in his apartment on Wednesday, January 23, 2019 in Sacramento. Front Street Shelter’s “doggie day out” program lets people rent a dog for a few hours to a day. Paul Kitagaki Jr. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

These personal touches and details, reported back by fosters, help Front Street to showcase the dogs’ personalities to prospective adopters. Adopters want to feel a personal connection to a dog before they adopt, Mann said, and the Doggie Day Out program provides that in multiple ways.

First, the program gets dogs out into the community, where they can meet new prospective adopters outside of the shelter environment. It also reveals new details about the dogs’ personalities, and can create relationships between the volunteers and foster dogs, sometimes ending in adoption.

Front Street provides a “doggie bag” to fosters when they pick up their dog, including treats, toys, water bowls, poop bags and emergency contact info. There’s no fee.

Silmi didn’t permanently adopt Lucy. As of Tuesday afternoon, Lucy was still listed on the Doggie Day Out website. If you think you might be interested in spending time with Lucy, there’s a yellow leash waiting for you at Front Street.

Want to try?

For more information on how to become a Doggie Day Out volunteer, visit https://bit.ly/2G3YWYJ.

Hannah Darden covers breaking news and feature stories for The Bee and is a political science and journalism student at Sacramento State. A Sacramento native, she previously worked as editor in chief of her community college newspaper, the American River Current.

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