MIMI – Finding true love in the form of a four-legged friend just got a bit easier at a Broward animal shelter.
On average, Broward County Animal Care and Adoption in Fort Lauderdale has about 100 or so sweet and friendly dogs waiting for a home.
Did you know that you can take them out on a date first?
There is a program called Lunch Buddies that has been garnering great results.
Dennis and Stephanie Hearing recently suffered the loss of one of their dogs.
They weren’t looking for another one but noticed that their other dog Micky – also a rescue – was really down in the dumps.
They heard about Lunch Buddies and signed up.
The first pup they took out for the day didn’t fit quite in at home, but the second date was ‘like magic.’
“We came across Zena and she’s been here several months, she was in the shelter a really long time we took her home for lunch took her and Micky for a walk and they hit it off immediately. It was like they’d known each other for another lifetime. She’s a super, her energy is exactly what we were looking for,” said Hearing.
Lavender is a terrier mix. She was in the shelter a long time too before her date with Rose Eugene-Fidele.
“I was looking for a dog to train as my service dog because I am a veteran. It opened my eyes also because I was able to take her to Home Depot. I know I can take her to restaurants and other places, the Lunch Buddies gave me an insight as to how she’s going to do around other people before you get her. To me, that’s the best ever.”
Lunch Buddies also is a great way to volunteer and make a difference in a shelter dog’s life even if you aren’t looking for a fur-ever family member.
Brandee Smith has been taking dogs on lunch dates almost every Sunday for a year.
Once an applicant is approved, it can be a great rewarding experience.
She showed us how it works.
“Every lunch buddy is equipped with all the stuff they need- a leash, water bowl, toy, and every dog wears a bright orange ‘adopt me’ harness. I love to take them to the park we go to Tree Top Park or Markham Park sometimes we take them out on a picnic, sometimes to a restaurant, they love the park, and they love to decompress,” Smith said.
She added that this is a great reason to get out of the house, knowing a dog is going to have a great day.
“I know that I can’t save them all – and yes it’s heartbreaking dropping them off at the end – but all I can do is give them a few good hours… that’s my whole goal to give them a few good hours.”
The need to get dogs permanent homes is of course paramount, and even when a dog is a service dog, for a veteran like Eugene-Fidele, it’s a symbiotic relationship.
“We are fixing each other, sometimes I feel like I am her human unit, we help each other.”
For information on Lunch Buddies, click here.