When the Wilco Regional Animal Shelter launched a Dog Field Trip program in December, volunteer Korri Bindl jumped at another chance to give the dogs a much-needed break from shelter life. A staff-member-turned-volunteer, she has striven to make the dogs’ temporary stay “a little better,” whether by cleaning kennels, playing with them in the yard, or taking them on field trips around Georgetown.
The Dog Field Trip program allows volunteers and community members to take a shelter dog on an outing of their choosing that also fits the dog’s personality. “Some dogs just love a good car ride, and this program lets people fill that void for the dog, even if just for an afternoon,” Shelter Community Programs Coordinator April Peiffer says. “We have a list of dogs who make great hiking buddies, those who love a fun car ride and drop-in at your favorite local coffee shop for a Puppuccino, and more.”
Korri and her canine companions have been all over Georgetown, from San Gabriel for a walk in the park to the Square for Market Days and the Red Poppy Festival. April calls the program a fun way to give back to the community that includes an opportunity to meet fellow animal lovers (some of whom Korri has recruited as volunteers) and also allow volunteers to learn more about the dogs. With the shelter so full, it is a challenge for staff to keep up with personalities and profiles, so many of the dogs don’t have information adopters are looking for, such as whether they are housebroken, how they act around kids, and if they are dog and cat-friendly. “The person taking the dog on the field trip may learn some valuable information about the dog that we wouldn’t otherwise get, which could in turn provide a morsel of information that will help her find a loving new home,” April says.
For Korri, helping shelter dogs and watching them get adopted has been a rewarding, though bittersweet, experience. “I’ve met a lot of amazing, amazing dogs. The first foster I ever had, after he was adopted, if anyone brought up his name I cried. I got really attached. People have said to me, ‘How can you do it? I wouldn’t be able to do it.’ Knowing you helped a dog along the way, and they’re living their best life now, is very fulfilling.”
Those who would like to become a Dog Field Trip foster can fill out a day foster agreement and pick up a dog during shelter hours from noon to 6pm daily. A staff member will help them select a dog that is best matched for the activity the day foster would like to participate in. Fosters are encouraged to take photos and videos of their adventure together and share them with staff for promotional use as well as family and friends to help find a forever home for their friend for the day.