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Tonka’s Story

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or Tonka, a Lab mix who was transferred to the HSBC from Puerto Rico’s Save-a-Sato program, the world of humans was a terrifying place. As a “sato” – a stray – Tonka probably grew up on the streets with other homeless dogs, lacking socialization with humans. He arrived here with no understanding or trust of human interaction. He curled up at the back of his kennel, refusing to eat or drink, and trembling when approached by strangers. It was obvious that the shelter environment was not the optimal place for Tonka, so he was quickly placed into our Adoption Ambassador (AA) Program, a home-to-home foster care process that allows hard-to-place animals a chance to go into volunteers’ homes until they find a forever family. Tonka’s case was particularly challenging, but with plenty of time, patience, and counter-conditioning, his AA family saw glimmers of progress. After a few days, he began to stick his head out of the crate to eat and drink from bowls placed right outside the crate door. And although he still had to be carried outside, he started to walk to the grass on his own to relieve himself. Everything was baby steps, but each day he became more comfortable with interactions with his AA family, and after a few months, he was deemed ready for meet-andgreets with potential adopters. This brought about new challenges: although Tonka had learned to trust his foster family, new humans were a totally different story and Tonka wanted no part of it! But the AA family’s motto with Tonka continued to be “baby steps” and, after a few more months of slowly introducing Tonka to new people, he started to become more social. One day, ten months after Tonka had entered his AA home and following several unsuccessful meet-and-greets, the Dingers called. They had lost their dog, Lucky, after sixteen and a half years, and were ready to open their hearts and home to a new dog. As former foster parents of abused children, the Dingers said they understood the need for patience and unconditional love, and they drove over to meet Tonka. Although Tonka was afraid at first, the Dingers’ soft voices and quiet demeanor seemed to calm Tonka and the meeting went well. The next step, a trial visit at their home, also went really well, and the Dingers adopted Tonka that same week.

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Tonka is doing great in his new home. He even started stealing his mom’s socks and hiding them in his bed, a comfort behavior he used to do at his AA’s home. He enjoys long walks around the neighborhood and watching Jack Hanna on the couch with his dad, and he gets along great with his cat sister, Annie. Tonka definitely hit the lottery with his new forever family! But this success story would not have happened without the Adoption Ambassador Program, a truly one-of-a-kind initiative that helps shelter animals like Tonka become more adoptable. If you’re interested in becoming a part of this amazing program, contact Volunteer Director Lacey Freeman at 954.266.6814 or lfreeman@hsbroward.com to find out what steps you can take today to become an Adoption Ambassador and make a difference in the lives of animals.

Tonka's new mom and dad understand that he needs their patience and plenty of TLC.

Stevie’s Success Story

any animals adapt quickly to the shelter environment while they wait for their forever families to discover them. Others don't adjust as readily, and for different reasons they may feel too stressed to do well while at the shelter. These are the animals that are selected for our Adoption Ambassador Program.

Say hello to:

Stevie Because he is blind, Stevie’s adoption was a bit more of a challenge than some. He needed a family that would understand his special needs and be willing to adapt to them. Stevie's Adoption Ambassador family found him “a real joy to have around.” They said you’d almost never know he couldn’t see, because he learns his way around new environments quickly and loves to run and play with toys like a typical young dog. He’s a big love bug and enjoys a good cuddle. After spending nearly two months with his AA family, and just before this newsletter went to print, Stevie was adopted. He now lives in Davie with Paula and her dog Domino, also adopted from the HSBC. Stevie and his new mom, Paula

Calling All Teens! T

eens can participate and earn their required high school community service hours by partnering with a parent and becoming a Teen Adoption Ambassador, earning three hours for each day the dog is in the home. Teen Ambassadors earn additional hours for walking the Ambassador Dog in public with its “Adopt Me” vest on; attending weekend events; making and hanging signs; promoting the Ambassador pet through social media; and making phone calls and sending emails to let people know about their loving shelter pet that needs a home. A parent or guardian must attend an adult shelter volunteer orientation in order for a teen to participate, and families must complete one successful adoption experience before school service hours may begin to accumulate. Contact Lacey at 954.266.6814 or lfreeman@hsbroward.com for details. 7


Paw Prints: Fall 2016