The P.E.I. Humane Society is facing a unique issue — it currently has eight dogs with special needs.
That term is put on an animal who can't go to just any home, but who need specific conditions in order for them to be happy.
"They're not bad dogs, they just have special needs, so those dogs, some of them have not had their needs met at home," explained adoption and intake coordinator Maryse Perreault.
"It could be no children in the house because they jump up on them, they could be nippy, they could have some handling issues because they're really sensitive and they're still working on their confidence," added development coordinator Jennifer Harkness.
"The other issues that they could be reactive to other animals or other dogs."
Finding the right fit takes time
Harkness said it can take a long time to find the right family to adopt the animal, and it adds to the work at the shelter while the dogs are in its care.
She said having eight at once is very unusual for the shelter.
"It's been a challenge for sure to keep them all occupied and happy when they all have these special requirements, and most of them have kennel stress as well, so trying to find different areas in the shelter where we can house them comfortably," she said
Lots of training
When an animal comes in it is first a challenge to figure out what the special needs are, because often times there is no history available and special needs can come from many different situations, from a lack of training to abuse.
Staff work closely with the dog to help them develop the qualities that will make them more adoptable.
This involves training first on the every day things — sit, lay down, playing and socializing. They work on their issues in house as well as with foster families, and staff even take some animals home at night. Learning new things like tricks can help the dog get adopted faster, said Perreault.
"Having a dog that has a mind that's occupied doing usefully things will actually be better and easier to rehome than a dog that use his mind to just be bored be stressed."
The right fit
The key to adopting a special needs animal is to listen to what those needs are and take them seriously, and to think about if it is something you can handle, explained Perreault.
"When they go home, those things are not gone, people are still going to have to work with those," she said.
"They still have to realize, yes the dog is suffering from anxiety and that's something that they have to contend with … probably for the life of the dog."
She added with some work and the right match, all of these dogs have potential of being great companions.
Many of the dogs are now up for adoption, the rest will be advertised as they become ready to rehome, they suggest coming in to meet the dog you're interested in first and talking to staff about their needs.
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