Dorothy Bates, of Fraser, and her new canine friend, Blue, hit the Detroit Riverwalk as they take part in the Detroit Dogventures program.

Dorothy Bates, of Fraser, and her new canine friend, Blue, hit the Detroit Riverwalk as they take part in the Detroit Dogventures program.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Shelter dogs hit the town as part of Detroit Dogventures

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published April 16, 2019

 Guppy is ready to hit the town. The Detroit Dogventures program allowed animal lovers to “check out” a dog for a day from Detroit Animal Care and Control April 6 and 7.

Guppy is ready to hit the town. The Detroit Dogventures program allowed animal lovers to “check out” a dog for a day from Detroit Animal Care and Control April 6 and 7.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Janet Bauman, of Ferndale, takes shelter dog Turner out for a day during the Detroit Dogventures program.

Janet Bauman, of Ferndale, takes shelter dog Turner out for a day during the Detroit Dogventures program.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

DETROIT — On April 6 and 7, people from all over the Detroit area gathered in the city to have a special day with a new furry friend.

It was part of a new program called Detroit Dogventures. Run out of the Detroit Animal Care and Control Center at 7401 Chrysler Drive, volunteers got to take a shelter dog out for a day on the town.

“Detroit Dogventures is an innovative new daytrip program hosted by Friends of Detroit Animal Care and Control. Anyone in the community can come to Detroit Animal Care and Control and ‘check out’ a dog for an afternoon field trip, and explore the great city of Detroit at participating businesses,” explained Margo Butler, an executive board member of Detroit Animal Care and Control. “We are hoping to bring more attention to our city’s homeless dog population and break stereotypes about shelter dogs. There is often a stigma around these dogs, that they are ‘broken’ in some way. In reality, shelter dogs are no different than any other dog — they are full of love and absolutely thrive in adoptive homes.”

The initiative is being overseen by the Friends of the DACC, a nonprofit formed to aid the city organization to help do the things Detroit Animal Care and Control cannot. 

The idea stemmed from Maddie’s Fund, a foundation that supports animal welfare programs and promotes no-kill shelters. 

“Maddie’s Fund came up with this idea of taking dogs out of the shelter on short, daylong trips and the Friends ran with the concept and created Detroit Dogventures,” said Renena McCaskill, administrative supervisor of the shelter and president of the Friends of the DACC. “We’ve had a variety of people take part — groups of families, young and old, people from Detroit all the way up to Auburn Hills. We’ve even had several people come here on dates.”

While the center hopes this will encourage adoption, organizers said it was not the day’s primary goal.

“Hopefully, some of our volunteers will adopt them or other people will see them and be inspired to adopt. … (but) today is more about getting them outside and getting them socialized,” said Laura Skimin, of the Friends of the DACC. “Maddie’s Fund is doing a study to see if dogs have a higher chance of being adopted if they get chances like this to go out.”

Organizers of Detroit Dogventures added that the program provides a variety of positive benefits for the community.

“We are giving people bingo cards to take with them with sites around town where they can take photos with the dogs. This includes local landmarks, statues and area businesses,” said McCaskill. “What we would love would be to get more adoptions and see an empty shelter for a few hours. Hopefully this will also prove Maddie’s Fund right and show programs like this work. If nothing else, it will be good for the dogs.”

“This program is specifically designed to encourage patronage at local Detroit businesses,” added Butler. “We want people from all areas and backgrounds to enjoy this city that we love so much. Getting to do so with a dog by your side can only make the experience that much better.”

The center made sure to take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of all participating dogs and humans.

“We equip everyone with supplies to make sure they have everything they need; and they have a card with phone numbers on them they can use if there’s any emergency that comes up,” said Skimin. “They’re all dogs we’ve taken outside of the center before, so we know they’re good with people. … All of the dogs are microchipped in case one isn’t returned at the end of the day, so they can’t be taken without being properly adopted.”

Volunteers got a bag of dog treats and toys for their temporary pets.

The DACC was pleased with the public response to the program. A line of people eager to take a furry friend around the city spilled out the door of the center both days of the event.

“I wanted to adopt a dog, and I wanted to adopt an older dog since they’re harder to find homes for. This is a great way to see if we’re a good fit,” said Dorothy Bates, of Fraser, who spent the day with her new canine friend, Blue. “At least if someone doesn’t adopt them, they still get to go out. I’m taking him down to the Detroit Riverwalk.”

It also gave some people who can’t own a dog the opportunity to take one out for the day.

“I really love dogs, and I love Detroit Animal Care and Control,” said Victoria Cantarella, of Waterford, who took her new pal, Gummybear, out with her boyfriend, Adam Winters, of Troy. “I don’t have the ability to own a dog right now, so I liked the idea of coming out and having a fun time with a dog and hopefully encouraging someone else to adopt.”

The hope from both the DACC and the volunteers was that this will be the first of many such programs in the city and that more people will be able to have their own Dogventure in the near future.

“Living in a shelter is tough for any animal. It’s loud, busy, and most animals spend the vast majority of their time in a kennel,” said Butler. “Getting an afternoon out in the real world, enjoying one-on-one attention from people greatly lowers the dogs’ stress levels. It also gives these animals amazing exposure within our community, increases adoption rates and brings new volunteers into the shelter.”

Call Staff Writer Brendan Losinski at (586) 498-1068