Hoping more dogs would get adopted, Saving Grace Adoption Center in Roseburg sent 10 of its dogs out into the community on field trips with volunteers from the community.

It was also a chance for the dogs to get out and socialize with humans outside the cage. The pups were taken to businesses, parks and along bike paths to expose them to as many people as possible and to enrich the dogs' lives.

The major goal of the field trips, which is part of a nationwide study, is to learn more about how fostering programs affect dogs, as well as the shelter staff and volunteers.

Saving Grace Director Wendy Kang said the center is always looking to increase the number of animals that get adopted and the field trips also give people a better opportunity to interact with the animals.

"You see the dogs in the kennel and they come off as being loud and jumpy, way too energetic and maybe terrified," Kang said. "It's really nice to be able to learn a lot more about them, especially with strays, where we don't have a lot of information and any outing like that is going to reduce the kennel stress."

Kang said when you get the dog out of the shelter, you see a completely different animal.

Saving Grace was able to join Arizona State University and Virginia Tech's Maddie's Fund Nationwide Fostering Study to revolutionize the status and well-being of companion animals. Saving Grace is one of 100 animal shelters participating in the program.

Kang said the center's kennel manager found out about the study and quickly sent in an application.

Maddie's Fund is a national family foundation established in 1994 by Dave and Cheryl Duffield to promote no-kill zones for pets and well-being of companion animals.

Volunteer Jessica Roberts took Poppy, a 3-year-old black and white retriever, Labrador and American blue heeler mix on a road trip Wednesday morning. The dog was rewarded with a puppuccino treat at a Dutch Bros. coffee stand.

After the stop, the two went to Stewart Park to visit with more people.

"I'm hoping to run into some people on the dog trail and get her some exercise and get her adopted," Roberts said. "She's a little bit of an escape artist, so she'd need someone who could put in a little time for training and give her plenty of exercise. And she needs a home with no small livestock."

Sue Havicus, who has volunteered at the center for almost 10 years, was excited to give the dogs a chance to get out of their cages and interact with people. She took a small, 5-year-old, mixed breed, female dog named Moppet, to the Douglas County Farmers Co-op to show her off.

"She came in as a stray and she's awfully cute, very sweet and just a little lap dog," Havicus said. "Probably more suitable for an older person, maybe older children."

The volunteers are given suggestions of several dog-friendly businesses or parks, but they can pick where they'd like to go. After they take the dog out, they're expected to fill out a report card so that the public can see what the dog is like outside of the center. The reports will be hung on the kennel to share the information with potential adopters.

Ten dogs were taken out on Wednesday and Thursday for the study. There will be about 40 more dogs taken out in the next four weeks. Saving Grace officials are hoping it leads to a lot more adoptions. 

Roberts said it's important that when you're looking to adopt a dog, you know what you're getting into.

"You need to have the time and attention to spend with them," she said. "Remember, they are a member of your family."

To find out more about the program call the Saving Grace Pet Adoption Center at 541-672-3907.

Reporter Dan Bain can be reached at 541-957-4221 or e-mail at dbain@nrtoday.com.

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Dan Bain is the health reporter for The News-Review. He previously worked at KPIC and 541 Radio.

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