Kennel Companions

Program Overview

man_walking_dogThe ARL has a number of dogs that have been waiting longer than others for an adoptive home.  These dogs are loving, healthy, and smart dogs who just need extra help getting adopted.  ARL also has many dogs who have treatable behavioral issues, or may display depression or kennel stress, that could be resolved with dedicated volunteer attention.  The Kennel Companions program aims to improve the quality of life for these dogs and increase their adoptability.

Volunteers at the ARL are essential partners in providing enrichment for the dogs in the shelter.  While walking the dogs is fun for the dogs, the Kennel Companions program allows volunteers to focus on the specific needs of a particular dog.  Kennel Companions volunteers are committed individuals working with their KC dog until it is adopted or can be placed in a foster home.

We would like to have 10-15 dogs in the program at any given time.  This goal is dependent upon the number of committed Kennel Companions we have in the program.  Your commitment to the dogs here at the shelter is essential to making our program successful. We can’t do it without you!

Process for Selecting a Kennel Companion Dog

  • The Volunteer Coordinator will select dogs for the program that display minor behavior issues.
  • When space allows, dogs will be considered that exhibit: leash and handling issues,  mouthiness, fearfulness, or are experiencing a high level of kennel stress.
  • Dogs will not be considered if they exhibit: severe resource guarding, aggression towards  other dogs, aggression towards people.

Process for Assigning Kennel Companion Dogs

  • When Kennel Companion volunteers are ready to be paired with a dog, they should contact the Volunteer Coordinator, Hope Poliansky,  at the shelter at 610-373-8830.
  • When a volunteer commits to a dog, the Volunteer Coordinator will develop a “behavior plan” specific to  the dog, outlining areas for improvement and suggestions for training and enrichment  exercises.
  • Kennel Companions dogs will be paired with one volunteer whenever possible.  Volunteers  who cannot commit to full Kennel Companion responsibilities and want to split/share Kennel  Companion duties with a second volunteer must have prior approval by  the Volunteer Coordinator.

Kennel Companions Program Goals

  • Give select dogs special one-on-one socialization and enrichment to improve their quality of  life while living at the shelter.
  • Make these dogs more adoptable through enhanced socialization and skills training.
  • Resolve treatable behavior issues.
  • Improve community relations and involvement.

Expectations for and Responsibilities of Kennel Companions Volunteers

  • Kennel Companions must commit to at least 3 visits each week (2 visits may be accepted if paired/shared with another volunteer and only at the discretion of the Volunteer Coordinator).  These visits must be at least 45 minutes in length and consist of a walk, playtime, and skill practice.  Ideally at least one visit a week should also involve photo taking to freshen up the dog’s “write up” for promotional purposes.
  • Kennel Companions visits must be more than just a walk.  They will involve physical and mental stimulation, eventually training to master “sit”, “stay”, “paw”, and “drop it”.  Kennel Companion staff will be available for support and troubleshooting problem behaviors.
  • Kennel Companions commit to logging their visits into the log book each and every time they come in to the shelter.
  • Kennel Companions will be required to attend a pre-approved event each month with their Kennel Companions dog.
  • Kennel Companions commit to marketing/promoting their dogs for adoption and foster care (at the discretion of the ARL).

Expectations for Ending the Kennel Companions Relationship

When a Kennel Companions dog’s behavior declines and it is determined by ARL staff that the dog is no longer safe for adoption, or there is not space at the shelter to continue to work on behavior modification for that dog, the Kennel Companion volunteer will be contacted by the Volunteer Coordinator.  Whenever possible Kennel Companions will be given a time frame/deadline for a last promotion push for finding foster/rescue/adoption for the dog. This time frame will vary, and cannot be guaranteed.

Contact Information

If you have any questions regarding participation in the program at any time, please contact either the Volunteer Coordinator at the shelter at 610-373-8830 x120.  You can also email any questions to Hope Poliansky.