It’s a common refrain at this time of year: don’t give a dog as a Christmas present.The Winnipeg Humane Society, however, says it might have a solution for those who want a pet to celebrate the holiday with, but aren’t yet sure if they’re ready for the long-term commitment.The shelter’s new Dog Staycation Program lets potential pet owners ‘check out’ a large or medium breed dog for a weekend over the holidays.READ MORE: Stressed-out shelter dogs seeking weekend staycations, says Winnipeg Humane SocietyThe Humane Society’s Javier Schwersensky told 680 CJOB Tuesday that while the program benefits families who want a trial of the pet experience, it can also have a major impact on the animals themselves.
Winnipeg Humane Society CEO Javier Schwersensky.Winnipeg Humane Society
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“We’re a shelter,” he said. “It’s a bit like a hospital – a very sterile environment in some ways.“So we said, why don’t we give these dogs a break so their mental health improves and they’re better adoption candidates?“We had a challenge from staff – why don’t we empty out all of the adoption pods, just for the Christmas season and give these dogs a wonderful opportunity?“Give people who are thinking about having a pet at home the chance to meet these animals and see how they feel about it.”Schwersensky said Winnipeggers should think of the WHS as a match-making service, and that there’s no judgement if someone takes a pet home for a staycation and it doesn’t work out.“There’s a commitment you make when you’re taking a pet home,” he said. “Sometimes we can explain it to you, but you can’t always grasp the responsibility and the joy of having a pet in your home.“This is a perfect way you can kind of test the waters.”To sign up for a pet staycation, fill out the form at the WHS website to register for the program.WATCH: Winnipeggers rally behind local business owner, whose dog was diagnosed with terminal cancer