‘Rent a Dog’ program gets pups out of kennel, into Lakeland for a day

Local News

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – SPCA Florida has a solution for those who need some puppy love, but can’t commit to taking a dog home.

The facility in Lakeland offers a “Rent a Dog” program, where volunteers can “rent” a dog for a few hours a day.

Program coordinator Nikki Vaughn explained to 8 On Your Side just how important this program is for their four-legged friends in need of homes.

“It also gives the dogs an opportunity to get out of the kennel environment, because it can be stressful in here for them,” Vaugh explained.

“It gives them the opportunity to leave the facility and gets more eyes on them, so they have more opportunity to get adopted.”

Kristin Bennett has been “renting” dogs to take for walks during her lunch breaks at work.

She’s a life-long dog owner and has four at home already.                                                                                

“I was feeling at the point of my life that I really wasn’t giving back much to my community. The kids are grown and I’ve got time on my hands. And I very conveniently work near the SPCA. So I’ve got an hour for lunch, I normally walk on my hour lunch, and I thought, ‘well that’s perfect I can take a dog out on the Rent a Dog program, as soon as I learned about that. I was like, ‘it’s a win for everybody,’” Bennett said.

She has been trying to get a specific dog, an 8-year-old terrier, pit bull mix named “Buddy” adopted for weeks now.

“I think about adopting this guy every single day. It weighs on my mind so much. I really would like to bring him home,” she sighed.

Bennett explained that the “Rent a Dog” program isn’t just great for volunteers to get the dogs out, it’s extremely helpful for those looking to adopt a dog of their own.

“We don’t get a lot through the bars of the cage. And if you’re there in the outdoor area, the meet and greet area, the dogs get a lot of distractions and a lot of other things going on, you may not get a good feel of how this dog might fit in your life,” she said.

“So if you take them out, spend a few hours with them, picture them on your sofa, see how they drive with you in the car, go on your walks, fit into your life. I think that helps a lot.”

Vaughn says ‘tis the season for adoptions.

“People are more willing to adopt pets during the holidays, so having them out, people get to notice them, they get adopted quicker,” she said.

Anyone 18 years and older can “rent” a dog through SPCA Florida and there is no fee.

Dogs are available for four hours at a time before they must be returned, so potential families can still visit them at the shelter.

The SPCA website explains volunteers are vetted in the same manner as a foster family.

Vaughn explained the dogs may go anywhere dogs are allowed in Lakeland, except dog parks.

For more information or questions about the “Rent a Dog” program, you can go online or email rentadog@spcaflorida.org.

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