Can’t rescue a dog? Shelter allows you to host a pet during ‘Happy Hour’

Do you work long hours? Are you on the road a lot? Do you love dogs? Sadly, for many dog fans in the D.C. area, those work restrictions often get in the way of adopting a pet. But now there is a way dog lovers can spend some quality time with a shelter dog, bettering both the animal’s life and their own.

The Humane Rescue Alliance in D.C. has a new initiative called “Happy Hour.” It’s a time where someone can take a shelter dog home and spend a relaxing few hours while making a new four-legged friend.

“The objective of ‘Happy Hour’ is to actually give the dogs a break from the shelter, which means we want them to engage in kind of calm activities,” said Jennah Billeter of Humane Rescue Alliance in D.C.

While she and her colleagues do their best to make dogs comfortable in the shelter, their lives can be stressful. Inside the shelter, there are strangers constantly walking around, and there’s a lot of barking. Research shows that the stress shelter dogs feel goes down considerably if they can take a short break. As a result, Billeter hopes the program will help animals better handle a stay in the shelter.

“If we can bring those stress levels down, it really helps them stay here and show their best side and then find their home,” Billeter said.

Life inside a shelter can be stressful for the dogs.

But the Humane Rescue Alliance thinks something like “Happy Hour,” where volunteers apply to take dogs home for just a few hours, can go a long way to make the dogs more calm when the come back to the shelter.

And it turns out, hanging out with a friendly dog can reduce stress for humans, too.

Some dogs can be more relaxed once they come back to the shelter after a field trip. It might make them more adoptable.

The “Happy Hour” program also helps people who might normally own a dog, but can’t due to work travel or time constraints, feel like they’re connected to a pet.


To take a dog home for a couple of hours, a person must sign up to be a volunteer or foster with the shelter. Then, the volunteers can come in, get an introduction to a dog, a staff member will allow you to spring the pup from the shelter, if only for a little bit.

Also, Billeter points out, not only are volunteers helping dogs lower their stress with a walk through a park, or even time curled up on the couch, the dog can also help volunteers with their stress.

“This is a great way just to take a break, help out a homeless animal and have a good time,” Billeter said.

To learn more, visit the alliance’s website.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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