Doggie Daycare Facility Hounds Town USA Offers Rehabilitation Program for Local Shelter Dogs at Risk for Euthanization.
Curtis is a handsome 3-year-old pit bull with a story like thousands—maybe millions—of other dogs. Brought in as a stray to the Town of Brookhaven Animal Shelter in 2015, Curtis was adopted to a home only to be picked up by Animal Control several months later after he was found locked in a crate outside of an abandoned house.
For the past year, Curtis has called the shelter—and the many staff and volunteers who have become his biggest advocates—home. This time around, Curtis regressed in the shelter as many animals do, biting the leash and showing signs of aggression toward other dogs. It’s not that the shelter is a bad or negative place; rather, it’s the nature of the environment. “Shelters are full of very loving staff and volunteers,” says Mike Gould, former Commanding Officer of the Nassau County Police Canine Unit and founder of pet care facility Hounds Town USA. “But a shelter is a chaotic place. Given all the animals that come through their doors each day, it’s virtually impossible for a shelter to have the resources to house dogs for long periods of time. And that’s not their purpose to do so.”
Because shelters are over crowded with dogs—mostly pit bulls—and don’t have many resources to address long term behavioral issues, Gould founded Hounds Town Charities in 2011 with the goal of providing rehabilitation and training services for dogs at the highest risk of being put down. “We identify ‘red’ dogs from our local shelters here on Long Island that are at high risk of euthanization because of behavioral issues that are often misunderstood or misdiagnosed,” explains Gould. “We take these dogs into our Hounds Town Charities program at our corporate Hounds Town USA location for a period of time with the goal of evaluating them and addressing any behavioral issues that may be impeding their adoption.”
The goal of the rehabilitation program is to provide the dogs with a natural and holistic environment to balance out their lives. “We begin by letting a dog be a dog, which means letting him run on our field and relax in a calm environment,” says Gould. This is something many dogs are not able to do at a shelter. The Hounds Town USA staff at the corporate location works with Gould to take care of the dogs in the program, which includes fully interactive doggie daycare. The interaction with other dogs in a doggie daycare group is sometimes key to addressing a dog’s behavioral issues. “Dogs are social pack animals that crave social interaction with other animals,” says Gould. The incorporation of this natural pack into a shelter dog’s life provides the structure and confidence he needs to balance him out. “It’s incredible to see dogs who are labeled as dog aggressive interact in doggie daycare perfectly fine. It’s like watching a fish swim in water!” says Gould.
Two recent graduates of the program include long-time Town of Brookhaven Shelter resident Dill, who had leash aggression issues; and Paris, who had been returned to the Smithtown Animal Shelter several times before finding her forever home just before she graduated from Hounds Town Charities’ program. “It’s always heart warming to see dogs go right from our facility into a new home, and not back to the shelter. That’s the ultimate goal. We never want to send a dog back to the shelter, but unfortunately it’s necessary sometimes if we cannot find the right adopter in a timely manner,” explains Gould. (Check out Dill’s story here).
Curtis has finished the program at Hounds Town Charities and is back at the shelter until the right adopter comes along. He will return to Hounds Town periodically to do follow up training and to have doggie daycare play dates with his new friends, including Hounds Town Charities dog Cappuccino, a former bait dog. “Who knew these two dogs that were both labeled dog aggressive would become fast friends,” says Gould. “The bond has helped both dogs, and the shelter is committed to helping Curtis and Cappuccino find the homes they deserve.” And if that means regular doggie daycare play dates, regular doggie daycare play dates it will be.
In addition to providing rehabilitation services to local shelters, Hounds Town Charities has three dogs permanently in their care that up for adoption, all from local shelters. Since 2011, Hounds Town Charities has helped more than 30 dogs find loving homes. All the dogs have been matched with veterans with PTSD, disabled persons, and loving people who have chosen to adopt instead of shop. For more information on Curtis or Hounds Town Charities, visit https://www.houndstownusa.com/charities/.