New program allows animal lovers to take a dog out for a day

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) - - Dog owners get to take their pets for walks, play fetch with them and even curl up on the couch and enjoy TV with their four-legged family members. Other pet lovers, however, who can't immediately adopt a dog can still spend quality time with a furry friend too for a few hours each day. 

All this can happen with Augusta's animal shelter dogs who spend a lot of time locked up inside.  

Not anymore though.  A new program, Doggy Day Out, takes them from Animal Services to the streets. 

Isis Captain lives in army barracks where no dogs are allowed.

"It's sad to see them inside the cages," she said of the dogs in the shelter.  "Their sad faces, you can tell they're suffering."

Captain, who volunteers with Augusta Animals Services, now spends her free time walking and playing with her adopted pet, Stu, that she can return.  

Gabriel Cabret too.  

And once his dog for a day, Maxi, was all set they took to ride out.  Not even the rain could keep her from fulfilling her role as man's best friend.  

The program allows people to do what typical dog-owners do, like jog in the park, go for a stroll downtown or doggy cuddle.

Cabret said of the program, "Have them have a good time and at the same time see how well behaved and how playful he is and that's much of a better opportunity for them to get adopted."

Interim Director Crystal Eskola spearheads Doggy Day Out. 

"These dogs are terrific dogs," she explained.  "They have play groups, but actually being out in the community, walking around Lowe's, encountering other dogs or where ever they are going to go is just a totally new experience for them."

A lot of dogs are strays, so Eskola said volunteers help collect needed information to make the dogs easier to adopt. 

"The fact that they like to ride in the car, the fact that they can sit, they love to fetch, they love to go in the canal.  All of that is going to help us find the next perfect adopter for them," Eskola said. 

That's only if the volunteers getting them out don't adopt them first. 

"My kids, of course, fell in love with Maxi," Cabret told us.  "I don't mind thinking about taking her home, but at the same time I have to talk with my wife."

Another caveat to Doggie Day Out is anyone who sees one of the dogs out this weekend with a yellow "adopt me" leash can adopt that dog on the spot. All you need is $25 and you can head back Animal Services to complete the paperwork.  But hurry, because the price goes up after this weekend. Eskola said spayed females are $75.  That comes with updated shots and a microchip.  Males are $65.  

If you do not see one of the dogs out this weekend in the streets.  You can adopt at Petsmart Friday night until 8:00 p.m. and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.  The dogs will be at Petsmart on Sunday from 12:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m.  Eskola added they will also be at Tractor Supply Company during the same times this weekend.  For more information about Doggy Day Out, contact Crystal Eskola at 706.790.6836.

Photojournalist: Mark Gaskins

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