Since 2018, a student-run rescue called Pups on the Plains has offered a service called Rent a Dog where they give those who may not have the time or money to adopt an opportunity to spend time with one of the organization’s fostered dogs.
Abbey Whitmer, president of Pups on the Plains, said the inspiration for the service came from a Valentine’s Day surprise.
“It first started in 2018 when a boyfriend wanted to surprise his girlfriend with a Valentine’s Day date,” Whitmer said. “For the date, he wanted to do a little romantic day with a surprise dog. He asked us if he could borrow one of ours, and we thought that was such an awesome idea. So, we talked some more and decided to build a whole program off of it.”
Their Rent a Dog program offers multiple dogs that are available to be rented for $5 an hour.
“You can rent one of our healthy, adoptable dogs to accompany you along your day,” their website states. “Whether you want to hike, hang out on Samford Lawn, have a study buddy for stress relief, or just chill with some Netflix, it doesn’t matter! Our dogs are just happy to be with you.”
Whitmer said that the service does not operate out of a building, so the dogs must be brought to the renters.
“The dog is picked up at an agreed upon location by the foster, who has the dog, and the renter,” Whitmer said. “Since we do not have a brick and mortar building, all of our dogs and cats live in foster homes. Therefore, when people are done renting the dogs just head back to their foster home, probably to take a big nap.”
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While some people rent the dogs to have a companion for hikes or stress relief, Whitmer said that some renters will also take the opportunity to socialize the dogs and create a bond.
“Most people who rent from us rent with a group of friends to split the cost and have a fun day out,” Whitmer said. “It is so beneficial for our dogs as well because they get to socialize with new people, new places, and new activities that they may not have otherwise.”
Whitmer stated that renters are allowed to take the dogs anywhere in Auburn that is dog-friendly. Many renters will fall in love with the dogs and end up adopting them if their circumstances allow it.
Whitmer started her presidency in August of this year and discussed why the organization is important to her.
“Being a student-run rescue, sometimes we feel as if people don’t take us as seriously, and it just motivates us even more,” Whitmer said. “We are all full-time students, who also have jobs outside of helping run the rescue. We are always busy but wouldn’t trade it for the world. Seeing these babies come out of the shelter and blossom into the wonderful animals they are is just one of the many rewarding parts of being a part of this amazing team.”
Pups on the Plains’ inspiration began back in 2017 when founder Shelby Stephens saw the need for dogs to be saved and rescued from overcrowded animal control facilities that were having to euthanize weekly, sometimes daily. POP was founded on the premise that people are never too young to make an impact.
Whitmer said that they want Auburn students to be involved and hands-on in rescue because they saw a resource that had not yet been tapped, inspiring young people to take action and nurture animals in their own homes. They have saved slightly over 300 animals.
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