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Shelter program helps difficult dogs get adopted faster

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    Columbus (WLOS) — Three months ago, Harmony, a female border collie, had no name, no home and very little interaction with people.

Then she came to the Foothills Humane Society in Columbus.

“You’re dealing with an animal that’s literally fearful for its life, and that’s dangerous,” said trainer Kayla Shealey, as she sat in the shelter cage with Harmony, trying to gain the stray dog’s trust. “It’s dangerous for me. It’s dangerous for her..”

Because Harmony would not let anyone touch her, Shealey said the dog was at risk for being put down.

But, part of the training included Shealey spending hours in the cage with Harmony, gaining her trust and ultimately her touch.

From there, Harmony went to live with Kayla and her family as a foster.

Harmony is one of 22 dogs that have been part of the Foothills Adoption Academy, a program that began early this year.

It’s a combination of obedience training, fostering and a high nutrient diet with Purina Calming Care.

Shealey documents Harmony’s progress, knowing it will lead to her forever home quicker.

“When people can see pictures of them laying in the dog bed, or interacting with the cats in the home or seeing they are housebroken and know how to ask to go outside, people are much more willing to say , ‘OK, I’ll give it a shot,'” said the longtime trainer.

Shealey admitted the Adoption Academy is pricey and time consuming, with an average cost of $750 per dog.

But, she said it’s more expensive to keep a dog in the shelter for over a year, which runs about $2,400.

She added the program has cut down the average academy dog’s shelter time from 1.5 years to 4 months.

It’s also cut down on their return rate, giving difficult dogs a better shot at a quality life.

Now, Harmony is up for adoption. She likes other dogs and cats, but, small children-not so much.

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