CANTON, Ohio (WJW) – A new training program is giving previously “unadoptable” shelter dogs a chance at finally finding a forever home.
One at a time, the dogs are being given two weeks of intensive training to make them more desirable to potential owners.
The idea came from seeing dogs frequently returned to the pound over behavior issues, says Stark County Sheriff George Maier, who oversees the county’s dog warden department and shelter.
“Usually it’s something minor, you know, they couldn’t properly train a dog, house train the dog or something like that,” said Sheriff Maier. “We like to do a good job to try and get these dogs into a home.”
The sheriff enlisted his friend, retired Canton Police K9 Officer and Trainer Eric Stanbro, to help with the program. Standbro now owns Ridgeside K9-Ohio on Whipple Avenue.
“He’s like, ‘hey, do you think you could help us give some free training to try to get these dogs adopted?’ and I asked my training staff and they looked at me like, ‘yes, of course we’re going to do this,’” said Stanbro.
Two weeks ago, they picked up their first pooch, a 3-year-old Bull Terrier named McKinley after the street where he was found roaming.
Stanbro says, almost immediately, McKinley began responding to his staff’s nurturing instructions.
“He’s a great dog,” said Stanbro.
Most dogs are when they’re given a chance.
“A shelter is a stressful environment for the dogs,” said Stanbro. “They just need out of there and to be trained and with a family.”
After two weeks of training from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., McKinley mastered multiple commands and was ready to be placed up for adoption.
This time, many people wanted him, but the Gibbs family lead the pack.
Heather Gibb arrived at the dog warden’s office at 4 a.m. just to make sure they could bring McKinley home.
“We knew it was a match,” said Josh Gibbs. “We just want many more years to make his life as good as we can. He hasn’t had a good life up to here so we want to change that.”
Both parents and their two children also underwent training to learn the commands.
“They did a really good job. He’s very well behaved,” said Gibbs.
The program is the first of its kind in the state and they say possibly the country.
Stanbro is providing the training for free, with another dog on the way.
The sheriff says hopefully they can find funding for the program so that even more dogs can finally be adopted.
“We’ll just perpetually keep going,” says Stanbro. “As long as this is successful and we can get dogs adopted, my personal opinion, I think every dog we get will get adopted.”
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