A Safety Net for Shelter Animals

Challenge Week: May 4-10

You Can Be a Champion for Animals Like Oliver

When an animal faces challenges or hardship, OHS is there to help. Support from donors like you makes our lifesaving medical, behavior, and rescue programs possible.

Safety net: something to rely on in times of hardship. That is what Oliver has found at Oregon Humane Society. The ultimate hope for pets who leave the shelter is that they will never have to return—but life is not always that predictable. When challenges occur, pets always have a safe place to come back to at OHS. 

Oliver was adopted and returned after spending one year with his new family, through no fault of his own. Like many Americans, Oliver’s owners were experiencing housing insecurity, and Oliver was unable to move with them.

Oliver, a black and white dog, sitting outside under a rainbow

A crisis is happening in animal shelters across the country. Large dog breeds are being overlooked for adoption and a likely reason for it is housing. Housing restrictions against dog breeds and weight limits exclude many breeds that typically show up in shelters, like German shepherds, Siberian huskies, and bully breeds—just like Oliver. This makes adopting especially challenging for renters in the community.  

Thankfully, Oliver has the love, care, and support of OHS’ Behavior Modification (BMod) team to receive what he needs while he waits for a new home.  

One year ago, our trainers worked with Oliver to provide an environment that would complement his needs. To best help him, it was important for them to get to know Oliver. During Oliver’s stay in the main shelter, our animal care team noticed his habit of light and shadow chasing. They worked with the BMod trainers to understand the behavior and determined that he was a good fit for the BRC.

“Light and shadow chasing can negatively impact a dog’s mental state. For humans, this could be compared to a need for repetitive behaviors with no satisfactory end, resulting in living in a constant state of overstimulation.” 

Annika Howland, Canine Behavior Modification Program Manager

By moving him from the main shelter to the Behavior and Rescue Center (BRC) Oliver was able to stay in a kennel that doesn’t reflect light and shadows. That, combined with proper medication, helped stop his compulsive and repetitive behavior. When he was first adopted, he was able to completely stop this behavior. This kind of support will continue for Oliver during his second and current stay at the BRC.

Oliver, laying on his back with a goofy look on his face

Oliver loves making friends and isn’t shy about it. It’s what the BMod team adores about him, but they also recognize that he comes on strong. Have you ever been so excited to share something that you forget your manners and interrupt someone? This is similar to Oliver’s behavior when he gets excited to meet a new person or dog. He says hello with barks, jumps, and occasional mouthing, or what some might refer to as “puppy biting.” Simply put, Oliver has too much happiness in his heart to contain it.  

Oliver playing with a black dog

BMod trainers continue to help Oliver channel his energy into tricks like ‘settle’ and teach him that greeting people and dogs politely earns him a reward—treats and pats on the head.  

BRC staff welcomed Oliver back with open arms and pockets filled with treats, of course. Our dedicated team takes him out for walks three to five times a day. He is a member of OHS’ running team, where he gets to go out with our volunteers for exercise and an adventure.  

Oliver’s stay at the BRC ensures plenty of doggie play dates (his favorite), as well as time spent with the Certified Professional Dog Trainers who created and implemented his original training plan.

Long term shelter dogs tend to decline behaviorally in the chaos of a typical shelter environment, but with the BRC as a resource, dogs like Oliver can continue to thrive.  

At OHS, there is never a time limit for dogs like Oliver to find their home.