I’m Locking Myself in a Dog Kennel for a Day. Here’s Why.

Have you ever wondered what a day in a shelter dog’s life is like? I’m finding out tomorrow by locking myself in a dog kennel at my local shelter.

Editor’s Note: The event has taken place. Read Kristine’s journal from inside the kennel here.

This is where I will spend my day. By: Kristine Lacoste/Pets Adviser
This is where I will spend my day. I hope I get a water pail. By: Kristine Lacoste/Petful

Shelter life affects dogs differently, and fearful dogs or those with separation anxiety are the first to shut down emotionally.

I want to spend a day in their shoes, err, paws, to see what life on the inside is really like.

When stray animals or puppy mill rescues are injured or in need of medical care, they usually end up at animal control or an animal shelter. Even if they receive the care they need, who pays the bill?

The Second Chance fund at the St. Tammany Humane Society aims to cover this expense through donations, fundraisers and public awareness. Dogs are brought in to this shelter that have been hit by cars, are full of heartworms or were rescued from a shuttered puppy mill.

One dog that entered the shelter last month after being hit by a car had no collar, identification or microchip, so there was no caretaker to contact. The injuries were too extensive for the shelter to treat at its in-house clinic. The dog was sent to another clinic for orthopedic surgery, and the Second Chance fund will help pay for this life-saving operation.

The stray animal population is massive, with estimates of homeless animals in the 70 to 80 million range, and a few million each year are euthanized. For those lucky enough to find a safe, warm place, odds of finding a home are slim. My local shelter is the largest no-kill in the state, and raising funds for these extra expenses helps another dog find a forever home while opening up another kennel spot.

STHS recently took in these puppy mill survivors. By:  St. Tammany Humane Society/Facebook
STHS recently took in these puppy mill survivors. By: St. Tammany Humane Society/Facebook

The shelter recently became aware of a puppy mill that was releasing Dachshunds. Through social media appeals to the public, the shelter was able to commit to taking in 6 of these dogs. They all have medical and dental problems requiring costly treatments. Puppy mill operators are often arrested, so there is no financial assistance or recourse for the animals.

This leads into another way the Second Chance fund really helps. Puppy mill survivors like those Dachshunds enter the shelter and receive care with foster parents. The number of dogs the shelter can accept will vary based on what it can afford and how many foster homes are available. The latest intake was 6 dogs, but they have taken in dozens at a time before — and they regularly drive adoptable animals to the Northeast where new homes are readily available.

So, what’s life like for a shelter dog? We walk past the cages and see their kennel accommodations, but it is hard to imagine being locked in there all day and night. Although the shelter has interior/exterior spaces in each kennel (the interior spaces are climate-controlled, and the dogs are regularly taken out for exercise), the animals still have to endure these gated enclosures until someone adopts them.

During a Saturday for as long as the shelter is open, I’ll be sitting in a dog kennel. It would be pretty weird to see a human pacing in a kennel, so I’m going to look the part in a full-body dog costume. Yes, you read that correctly.

Several local companies have stepped up as sponsors for this fundraising event offering prizes. Raffle tickets will be sold for the drawing to be held at the end of the day. There will also be a bake sale of cupcakes and other goodies, and 100% of the raffle and bake sale proceeds go directly to the shelter.

I’ll be online during my confinement answering questions here on Petful and taking photos and video clips to share my day in the life of a shelter dog.

If you would like to contribute to the cause and my crazy event, you can donate here and designate the funds to go to the Second Chance Fund from the drop-down menu (under “Donation Designation”). Even $1.00 will make a difference and is greatly appreciated.

Kristine Lacoste

View posts by Kristine Lacoste
Kristine Lacoste, editor in chief of Petful, is an author, poet and pet lover from Louisiana. She is the author of an award-nominated book, One Unforgettable Journey, and was host of a weekly pet news segment on the National K-9 Academy Radio Show. She was the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets, for 3 years. She is also employed as chief operating officer for a large mental health practice in Louisiana. Kristine has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Business Administration degree.

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