Meet Bertha: A shy, but sweet, dog with floppy ears and beautiful brown eyes. Bertha struggled to cope in her previous shelter. She became depressed, shut down, and fearful of people. As Coronavirus swept through the nation, the shelter could no longer provide the intensive care and attention Bertha needed and resorted to placing her on the euthanasia list. Thanks to Dog N’ Dash, Bertha’s story didn’t end there.
COVID-19 took its toll on animal shelters everywhere. In response, Austin Pets Alive! developed and restructured many programs to ensure lifesaving maintained a priority. One of the new programs is called Dog N’ Dash. This unique, dog foster subprogram matches shelter dogs with foster homes overnight. Through Dog N’ Dash, APA! pulls dogs on the verge of euthanization from their original shelters, on an emergency basis, and schedules them for pickup with a willing foster, giving them a second chance at life.
“Dogs that are scheduled to die elsewhere often don't get more than a 24 hour notice,” shares APA! Dog Foster Manager, Danica. With such sudden deadlines, Dog N’ Dash provides the immediate action needed to rescue these animals. Without this program, it’s unlikely that dogs like Bertha would survive, making it an invaluable life-saving tool beyond the COVID-19 response.
The willingness and flexibility of APA! fosters has been critical in Dog N’ Dash’s success. Fosters that take the pledge to save a life through Dog N’ Dash agree to pick up a dog in need of care on a site-unseen basis, meaning they have limited knowledge about their new foster dog before bringing them home. “The hallmark of this program is not knowing what you are going to get before you get it,” says Danica. “It's like the holidays! Get a surprise gift. A surprise foster dog who is going to warm your home.”
Today, Bertha is happily living in a forever home with her Dog N’ Dash foster parents, who decided to adopt her after falling in love. Her life isn’t the only one that has been turned around by APA!’s new program. Around 300 dogs who were facing euthanization are now living safe and sound in foster care or with their forever family.
To save a life through Dog N’ Dash, you must first become an approved APA! foster parent by completing the dog foster application. Once you have been approved, you’ll have the option to take the Dog N’ Dash pledge and will be contacted about scheduling a time slot to pick up a dog in need. You’ll pull up to the truckport at the Town Lake Animal Center during your scheduled pickup time, and a member of APA!’s staff will be waiting 6 feet away from your foster dog. Then, all you have to do is hook your leash to your new, furry friend, and bring them home!
Although the world is transitioning to a new normal, the demand for programs like Dog N’ Dash remains the same. The continuation of this program has the potential to lower euthanization rates, and it will allow for a more efficient use of funds and resources. If you’d like to support APA! in rescuing more dogs like Bertha, consider becoming a foster and taking the Dog N’ Dash pledge today!