Program aims to help long-term shelter pets find homes

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Coastal Humane Society in Brunswick and the Lincoln County Animal Shelter in Edgecomb have launched a new program to help long-term canine residents find homes.

The Slumber Party Program gives people the opportunity to take home adoptable dogs for three-day sleepovers that will serve as a trial adoption period while families and individuals assess the fit of the animal in their home.

The shelters hope that the new initiative will help pups who have been in their care the longest find homes.

Three-year-old Fiona, a terrier mix, is one of Lincoln County Animal Shelter’s long-term residents and has spent a year in the shelter. She is an avid cuddler and loves people, but should be the only pet at home. She does well on a leash, but an enclosed yard with a fence would be a definite plus for her. She likes children, too, but because of her size and energy level, the shelter suggests no young kids at home. As Fiona doesn’t like other dogs, she should wear a basket muzzle in public places.

Shelter officials hope that sleepovers will encourage people to consider adopting a dog with more particular, but manageable needs.

“Our long-term residents sometimes need more specific home environments, and Slumber Parties are a way for potential adopters to take home one of these sweethearts for a ‘test drive’ without making the commitment to adopt right away,” said Dr. Mandie Wehr, Director of Shelter Operations for Lincoln County Animal Shelter and Coastal Humane Society.

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According to staff, these dogs will be fantastic pets in the right home, but they don’t always show well on the adoption floor, which can be a stressful place.

There are other benefits to the dogs besides the opportunity to go home.

“There has been research in the last year measuring cortisol levels — a common measurement of stress — in dogs that spend an overnight in a foster home, and return the next day. The results indicate that the break from the shelter was beneficial and lowered the cortisol levels. It’s great news for shelter dogs, and we were happy to see that even a short break can decrease their stress,” said Wehr.

Both facilities currently have several canine candidates that would benefit from a sleepover.

Continued Wehr, “Even if you decide not to adopt, the dogs will still have had the chance to spend time with you at your place … what an adventure for a shelter pup.”

To learn more about Fiona or other dogs looking for slumber parties, call Lincoln County Animal Shelter at 207-882-9677 or Coastal Humane Society at 207-725-5051, or visit the shelters during open hours.

Lincoln County Animal Shelter long-term resident Fiona shows off her cuddly side in a photo shoot with shelter volunteer Jill Piper.

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