Longtime New Port Richey animal shelter resident simply needs a chance

Clear the Shelters

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The goal of animal shelters is to provide a safe haven for pets until their forever homes come along. But, sometimes, that doesn’t happen quickly enough. That’s the case with Benson, a Belgian Malinois, who has become a permanent fixture at SPCA Suncoast in New Port Richey.

Full of character, the 55-pound Benson spends a lot of time with SPCA staff, who do their best to keep the dog, a resident of the shelter for a year, from being institutionalized.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to keep him household-friendly,” said Brennan Autry, who retired from the Navy and now runs the SPCA Suncoast facility. Autry’s also an expert in animal behavior and dog trainer.

Autry says keeping dogs active, not just playing in the yard, but socializing with other animals and people, and allowing dogs to do mentally stimulating activities, like sniffing and exploring, is imperative to preventing longtime shelter animals from getting too used to living a sheltered life.

“We need to keep him thinking, OK, there’s things outside of the shelter,” Autry explains, adding that, when possible, SPCA Suncoast volunteers take Benson on walks, to parks, and even on short errands.

A recent renovation project at SPCA Suncoast added a living room environment, so dogs can get a sense of what living in a home is like. The renovations also updated the dog kennels and cat facility. And, Autry says, SPCA Suncoast is creating a neighborhood garden to grow fresh vegetables for the animals in its care.

Longtime shelter pets, like Benson, need some time to settle in after adoption. Because they’re adapting to a different lifestyle, new families need to understand a dog’s personality develop and adapt to a new environment after three or four months.

Autry adds that larger, older dogs like Benson often aren’t given a chance that they deserve because many people wanting to adopt a dog go to facilities with a certain “type” in mind.

“Coming in with a closed mind really does close off some of the great opportunities like Benson, and some of the other dogs that we have out here,” Autry said.

Interested in Benson? Here’s more about him. It’s believed he’s five to six years old, isn’t a big barker, and loves being in the presence of people. SPCA Suncoast isn’t sure if Benson will get along with cats, mainly because the dog hasn’t interacted with many of them. Also, the shelter says Benson would do better in a single-dog home (he loves to protect his toys, and be the center of attention), and a family with older children is best suited for him.

To learn more about Benson, and the other pets housed at SPCA Suncoast, visit the shelter’s Facebook page or website. Currently, shelter visits are by appointment only, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can also reach the SPCA Suncoast at 727-849-1048.

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Clear The Shelters

Shelters near you


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - Thousands of pets are looking for their forever homes and News Channel 8 is On Your Side helping to make that happen in the Tampa Bay area.

We are teaming up with hundreds of shelters across the country to host Clear the Shelters, a nationwide pet adoption drive from Aug. 1 through Aug. 31, featuring virtual pet adoptions to make it easy for people to donate online to participating shelters and rescues.

More than 150,000 pets found their forever homes since 2015 and we want to add to the number.

Find a shelter near you:

  • Pasco County Animal Services, 19640 Dogpatch Lane, Land O'Lakes
  • Paw Warriors, Inc., 355 Spring Time Street, Spring Hill
  • Pinellas County Animal Services, 12450 Ulmerton Road, Largo
  • Cat Haven Rescue, Inc, 1231 Bruce B. Downs Blvd, Wesley Chapel
  • Cat Haven Rescue, Inc - Pasco, 8529 Little Road, New Port Richey
  • SPCA Tampa Bay, 9099 130th Ave N, Largo
  • Bishop Animal Shelter SPCA of Manatee County, 5718 21st Ave West, Bradenton
  • Hernando County Animal Services, 19450 Oliver Street, Brooksville
  • SPCA Florida, 5850 Brannen Rd S, Lakeland
  • Barking Out Loud Rescues, Inc, 300 N Lake Drive, Lorida
  • Precious Paws Rescue, Inc., Citrus County Florida, 5164 S. Florida Avenue, Inverness
  • Humane Society of Pinellas, 3040 State Road 590, Clearwater
  • Hernando County SPCA, 9075 Grant St, Brooksville
  • St Francis Society, PO Box 261614, Tampa
  • Humane Society of Tampa Bay, 3607 N Armenia Avenue, Tampa
  • Rebels Rescue, Petco 136 S. West shore Blvd, Tampa
  • SPCA Suncoast, 7734 Congress Street, New Port Richey
  • Friends of Strays Animal Shelter, 2911 47th Avenue North, St. Petersburg
  • Florida English Bulldog Rescue, P.O. Box 754, Odessa
  • The Humane Society of Polk County, Inc, 3195 Dundee Rd, Winter Haven
  • The Humane Society of Sarasota County, 2331 15th Street, Sarasota
  • Hands Helping Paws Rescue Inc., 53 W Bay Blvd S, Lake Wales
  • Humane Society of Manatee County, 2515 14th Avenue W, Bradenton
  • Highlands County Sheriffs Animal Services, 7300 Haywood Taylor Blvd, Sebring
  • Manatee County Animal Services, 305 25th St W, Palmetto
  • SPCA Suncoast, 7734 Congress Street, New Port Richey
  • Citrus County Animal Services, 4030 S. Airport Rd, Inverness
  • St Francis Society, PO Box 261614, Tampa
  • FLUFF Animal Rescue, 9400 SEMINOLE BOULEVARD, SEMINOLE
  • SPCA Tampa Bay, 9099 130th Ave N, Largo
  • Polk County Sheriff's Office Animal Control, 7115 De Castro Rd, Winter Haven
  • The Greener Side Haven, Inc., 3892 N Lecanto Hwy, Beverly Hills
  • Humane Society at Lakewood Ranch, 26920 Gopher Hill Road, Myakka City

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