Shuffling down the caged aisles of the crowded dog shelter at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control facility in west Charlotte begs the questions: Why are these poor dogs here and why haven’t they been adopted yet?
Animal shelters all over the nation have reached capacity due to the overwhelming amount of surrendered and returned dogs that have caused issues in the shelter system since COVID-19 began, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control (AC&C) is no different.
The AC&C shelter has been at or over capacity for around 16 months, causing the organization to suspend all owner surrender intake in December, stating then that “the staff is tasked with making debilitating euthanasia decisions due to the overabundance of stray and owner-surrendered dogs coming into the shelter from the Charlotte community.”
Although some returns and surrenders are due to economic struggles or moving apartments, many are because of correctable behavioral issues, said AC&C spokesperson Melissa Knicely.
On Jan. 12, Animal Care & Control announced a new partnership with virtual dog-training company GoodPup, in hopes of keeping dogs in happy homes and out of the shelter.
“Our goal for this partnership with GoodPup is to provide a valuable tool that will help ensure an adopted dog’s success in its new home,” Knicely told Queen City Nerve. “It can also be used to keep owned pets that may have some behavior challenges in their home by pairing them with a professional trainer who can provide the help they need.”
Founded in 2017, GoodPup has trained over 65,000 dogs and partnered with more than 650 shelters and rescues.
“GoodPup’s mission is to make quality, positive reinforcement dog training accessible for all dog owners,” said Lisa Martin, co-founder and COO of GoodPup.
GoodPup is an affordable and accessible training solution that uses positive reinforcement to support humane behavior modification in dogs. Certified trainers are available for sessions from 9 a.m.-midnight to accommodate owners with busy schedules.
The company offers a one-on-one training experience focusing on the relationship between the owner and the dog, according to Martin.
“Our team can create and contribute to building that relationship, the human-animal bond, which is something that everyone should experience to its fullest potential,” she told Queen City Nerve.
Knicely said AC&C’s goal is not only to send dogs out of the shelter, which is still too full for the organization to accept any surrender intakes, but to help prevent animals from coming in. Shelter staff will use GoodPup’s services as a surrender prevention tool to address concerns before owners return or rehome their dogs.
To achieve that goal, AC&C is welcoming anyone experiencing issues with their dog to reach out and ask for help. Dog owners can come to the shelter, located at 8315 Byrum Drive, or reach out over any of the organization’s social media accounts to receive all the necessary information for a free week of GoodPup training.
If an owner comes into AC&C looking to give their dog up, all employees are prepared to offer knowledgeable training solutions because of mandatory GoodPup orientation.
You may think virtual training can’t be more effective than the real deal, but Martin insisted that’s not the case. According to her, in-person group training can be a stressful and expensive experience for both dog and owner, as dogs are not individually prioritized in a classroom setting and may not be in the most receptive state for learning.
Because your trainer comes into your home virtually for focused sessions, your dog will be comfortable and concentrated on the desired behavior modification, according to the GoodPup website. Owners do not have to worry about their dogs disrupting a group training session, and there is no time or financial commitment. Subscriptions can be canceled or paused at any time and sessions can be used to train multiple dogs on the same call.
If you decide to go past the free week, GoodPup offers a discounted weekly price of $30.60, donating some of the proceeds to AC&C.
Knicely said AC&C is also working on a “Scholarship” program that allows anyone to donate four weeks of paid training to shelter dogs. The longer a dog is in the shelter, the more its behavior degrades, she pointed out.
The program, along with the partnership itself, is a way to help sheltered dogs correct their behavior and prepare for a forever home, with the hopes of making those shelter cages a bit less crowded in 2023.
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