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Train to Adopt

Our Trainer: Karen Owens

A Note From Karen:
I am tremendously excited to be involved in the Train to Adopt program. The program was created by Sue Sternberg and is funded by a grant from the Foundation.  Charlotte was given the honor of being one of four shelters nationwide nominated to participate in this pilot program. By utilizing the Train to Adopt guidelines, I will create a training program for Charlotte that is innovative and breaks new ground for our shelter dogs and community. Not only will our program have a significant impact in our city, but it will offer an invaluable contribution to the future development of the Train to Adopt program for the betterment of shelter dogs nationwide.
 Karen Owens with adopted dog, Orion.

Buddy practicing his "down" command with Karen.

The Train to Adopt program brings a focus to the mental, behavioral and emotional health of shelter dogs.  By utilizing positive reinforcement training, play time, and environmental enrichment we intend to meet the following goals:

  • Increase adoptions
  • Decrease stress, stress related behaviors and lower arousal
  • Collect data to generate and develop future programs
  • Lower the length of stay in a kennel
  • Offer guidelines for Humane Care and Quality of Life for shelter dogs

Please keep checking back with our web page so you can see all the good things happening in our training program at Charlotte Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control!

If you would like to make a donation to help keep this program going, please send a check or money order to:

Animal Care & Control
8315 Byrum Dr
Charlotte, NC 28217

Checks should be made out to "City of Charlotte" and in the memo line should read "Train to Adopt".

You can also drop off cash and treats for the dogs (such as hot dogs and string cheese) at the front counter.

Animal Care & Control thanks you for your support and so do the animals!

To get help on some training tips, visit our Tips from the Trainer page.
Orion was a dog that was in desperate need of training and attention. Thanks to Karen, he received everything he need which was the key to getting him adopted.

Orion did not show well in the kennels. He backed away from the door, barked at everyone that walked by and kept his distance. But once out of that cage, his true wonderful and loving personality really shined through.

Orion learned all the basic obedience, along with a few cute tricks. He showed off his training during an animal showcase event and caught the attention of his now new owner. She couldn't believe how wonderful and well behaved he was at such a crazy event. She fell in love after thinking about him for nearly a week and decided that this was the dog for her.

Thanks to Karen's hard work and the Pet Finder Foundation's "Train to Adopt" program, Orion is now in a loving wonderful home. He's the prime example that this program does wonders for shelter dogs.

Good news from Karen!

I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on the progress of our Train to Adopt program in its first 2-3 months.  So many good things are happening here at our facility!

  • An average of 45-50 adoption dogs each month are receiving training, mental stimulation and affection at least 6 out of 7 days each week.
  • Positive feedback from the community about how wonderful it is to adopt a dog that is already trained.
  • Incredible support from staff and volunteers.  Wonderful attendance at our Train to Adopt Fundamentals and Train the Trainer workshops.
  • A workshop being held on April 30th to share the Train to Adopt program with local rescue organizations and new volunteers.
  • 14 newly approved volunteer trainers in addition to 7 more volunteers that are soon to be approved.
  • The interaction/training program for treatment kennel dogs has been approved and is ready to begin. (For approval to interact with treatment kennel dogs, you must have attended the treatment kennel meeting on 3/17.  We will hold another meeting in a month or so if there is additional interest.)
  • Fencing for a new play yard will be installed next month.  All the funds needed to build this play yard were donated by Fred Parker of PWS International, a Charlotte-based general contracting company.  This play yard will be used for our newly approved doggie play groups.  The approval process and SOP for participating in the play groups will be coming soon.
  • Short term fostering options to relieve kennel stress are available for approved foster homes.  (Fostering for an overnight, weekend, week, or day at the park are all great options to relieve stress for our dogs. Guidelines for short term fostering and taking an animal to the park for the day will be coming soon.)
  • The Quality of Life Team (with 5 staff members and 2 volunteer representatives) has had its first meeting and brainstormed many great ideas for helping dogs showing mental and emotional stress.  The team will continue to follow up as needed to support our animals.
  • Positive PR about our training program from Fox Charlotte News, WCNC Channel 36 News, Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly and the Foundation website.
  • 150 Kongs donated to our dogs from the Kong Company; 20 dog beds donated from Kuranda USA.
  • Excitement about our program from Sue Sternberg and Foundation-they love hearing about all the great things happening in Charlotte!

Hot dogs, string cheese, and cube cheese is used for this program by Karen and other trained volunteers and thus will always be in high demand. If you would like to donate these food items please drop them off at the front counter and let the staff know it is for the Train to Adopt program.

Dogs that were in our Train to Adopt program: