Could Giving Animals Jobs Instead of Homes Solve the Stray Problem?

Everyday, thousands of animals in shelters wait for their forever homes. They wait for a human who will give them a life of leisure in exchange for companionship. However, in a few special cases, it is a new boss and the prospect of a job that gives once homeless animals a happy ending.

“Most dogs like to have some sort of purpose,” explains Amanda Hanson, founder of Shelter Dogs with Jobs, a nonprofit that pairs homeless dogs with suitable employment. “Most often than not, they’ll get bored if they’re not given some structure and exercise.”

Hanson, who’s been rescuing dogs for a decade and is a full-time dog trainer, started the organization with two other dog lovers, Mo Eppley and Sabrina Zitzelberger, after repeatedly seeing “problem dogs” left at shelters because their owners didn’t know how to handle them.

“Sometimes people confuse trained with trainable,” she explains. “They see a police dog and say ‘I want that’ and they take a Shepherd home and [the dog] chews on the couch or bites someone or has too much energy and they realize ‘I can’t do this.’’’

Hanson visits shelters in Tampa Bay, where she lives, and looks for dogs with certain character traits. Are they always following their nose? Are they incessant about playing fetch? Those could be signs of a highly energetic but also focused dog. Are they very calm and get along with everyone, dogs and humans alike? They could be an emotional support animal. She then matches the right dog with a specific request she has gotten from the police force or individuals looking for service animals.

The four-legged workers don’t get paid in cash. A home with food and care is the fee for their services and since they’re doing what they love, the animals don’t see the jobs as a burden.

Across the country in Washington, it is cats that get placed in full-time employment with benefits that include a warm shelter to sleep in and unlimited supply of food.

Since 2009, SpokAnimal, a nonprofit dedicated to ending pet homelessness, has paired 1770 feral cats with farms and warehouses in the rural area of Spokane, to help them control the mice population.

“We have a ton of farms and most will have five to six cats so they have a whole rodent control team!,” explains Dori Peck, development director atSpokAnimal. “They’re all spayed and neutered and vaccinated so they’re healthy cats and you can’t really touch them because they’re truly feral.”

SpokAnimal has other local groups trap the feral cats who want nothing to do with a human’s lap or belly rubs and would much rather go hunting for mice in the field than have a can of Fancy Feast placed on their bowl. Some of the cats that have bad behavioral problems like spraying and are harder to adopt also make good candidates for warehouse jobs, where mice are abundant but there are no sofas to be peed on.

According to Hanson, the possibilities for animal jobs are expansive. Some can be trained to alert their owners or their owners’ families of blood sugar drops or seizures. Groups like the Greyhound Advancement Center use highly socialized dogs to train rescued Greyhounds who have never been outside of a racetrack or interacted with other dogs and humans to get accustomed to company and become more adoptable. Gia, a shelter dog, even got trained to sniff child pornography in Florida. And as more agencies try to avoid the cost of buying a puppy for training, they’re finding shelter dogs without the pedigree can do the job just as well — a win-win situation for everyone.

Photo Credit: ThinkStock

184 comments

Nellie K Adaba
Nellie K Adaba7 months ago

Yes, so they can get paid and be busy.

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Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill10 months ago

good idea

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joan silaco
joan silaco11 months ago

I am always preaching about how service men and women can find a dog that will help them lead a second life for both of them. organizations of all kinds are all over the 50 states raising money to train both people and dog. they rely on donations, since the VA does not want to give out grants to these rescue groups. the reason why they sometimes have to wait a few years is because it takes time and money. not all dogs are cut out to be used as therapy dogs, but they are treated the most humane way. these dogs truly save lives which makes them man's best friend.

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joan silaco
joan silaco11 months ago

I am always preaching about how service men and women can find a dog that will help them lead a second life for both of them. organizations of all kinds are all over the 50 states raising money to train both people and dog. they rely on donations, since the VA does not want to give out grants to these rescue groups. the reason why they sometimes have to wait a few years is because it takes time and money. not all dogs are cut out to be used as therapy dogs, but they are treated the most humane way. these dogs truly save lives which makes them man's best friend.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus11 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Mark Donner`
Mark Donner11 months ago

Euthanize the kill shelter workers and operators and the problem's solved.

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federico bortoletto
federico b11 months ago

Grazie delle informazioni.

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Nena C.
Nena C11 months ago

Excellent info and believe answer for the homeless ones

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Virginia Belder
Virginia Belder11 months ago

ty

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Past Member
Past Member about a year ago

Part 2 to last comment which was only printed in part: Very unlike how it is presented to us via the media. But what blew me off the cliff was one morning when a group of about 15 of these handlers were sitting around in the lobby late one night, talking. One of them was regaling the others with the exploits of one of their peers, who conducted an experiment with his dog - beating the dog only when he wore a blue shirt. (I know that dogs are alleged to be color blind, or limited in color perception, but I'm just reporting what I heard). The end of this story was that the dog attacked and bit one of the supervisors, who happened to be wearing a blue shirt. There was hearty laughter all around the group.

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