Moncton shelter dogs wear adopt me vests on public walks

Dog trainer Mark Bell and five-year-old Kilo spend a lot of time together.

“We’ve got around 30, after today, 33 hours in of just getting to know each other, not rushing through doorways, not rushing towards people and that’s obviously because he loves people,” said Bell.

The big-hearted, happy-go-lucky, 93lb American pit bull mix is up for adoption through the People for Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Shelter in Moncton.

Kilo has been at the shelter since the beginning of April and Mark has been working with him on a few different things.

Recently, the duo has taken their training off the shelter property and around town. They’re easy to spot because Kilo wears a bright red Adopt Me Vest – an important accessory that’s part of a newly re-launched program at PAW.

“It helps them socialize and it gets them used to newer environments,” explained Renee Cormier, community relations and programs manager at PAW.

“For example, out in Centennial Park you’ll usually have people out on bikes and we don’t have a lot of bikers here in Caledonia Park, so that’s one of the things that they’ll get used to on these adventures.”

Dog trainer Mark Bell and five-year-old Kilo take a walk in a Moncton park.

The hope is that these vests will bring more exposure to the dogs and help them find their forever home faster. However, organizers say these community walks also bring major benefits to the pups while they wait for their family.

“In the shelter, dogs can get very anxious, very quickly, because there’s a lot going on. There’s people walking around, a lot of stranger danger, but in a calmer environment we can see their personalities flourish because there’s just a lot less stress on them,” said Cormier.

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Kilo is the first resident to really take advantage of this re-launched program and Bell has seen it make a difference in him already.

“He’s always had good behaviour, he’s just so interested in getting places and doing things. So now he’ll sit and stay for a minute, minute and a half, he doesn’t rush through doors, and he’s doing it automatically now,” he said.

Right now, only two volunteers are able to take approved dogs into public parks and trails.

Cormier says safety is always their first priority, so volunteers need to have at least a year experience with the shelter dogs or be an approved dog trainer and the dogs themselves need to have the right personality and training.

“If the dogs are showing a lot of reactivity to other dogs or to children, we won’t get them out in the parks right away,” said Cormier.

“We’ll work on those behaviours here, in the shelter, or in Caledonia Park before we go into public parks.”

The program re-launched this month and the goal is to expand it to more dogs down the road who will get the chance to walk with experienced volunteers just like Bell.

“Of course I’m going to miss him,” he said.

“I was dreaming about him, and now I’m working with Rocky and after Rocky there’s another one, so it’s going to be a good journey and I’m looking forward to the day when I’m out and about and I see them and it’ll be interesting to see if they remember me.”

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Kilo is still available for adoption. People interested in bringing him home can get more information on PAW’s website or visit the shelter in person.

“Whoever has this dog, has to know that there’s a possibility that he’s going to pull you hard, but if you’re reading your dog and you’re not on your phone and you’re doing things and you pay attention and you’re with your dog when you’re walking, you’ll see it,” said Bell.

“This dog doesn’t have a mean bone in his body.”

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