Feature Article Luvable Dog Rescue
Cottages, Not Cages
Nestled in the green hills of Eugene, Oregon is a 55-acre dog rescue mission which is home to hundreds of dogs every year. Luvable Dog Rescue is a no-kill shelter that focuses on responsible adoptions. With 317 successful adoptions in the last year, Luvable exhibits impressive numbers for a privately owned shelter. Liesl Wilhardt, the founder, started Luvable in 1999 as a rescue that strictly focused on pit bulls. Over the years, Wilhardt saw an opportunity to expand and save more lives, including other smaller dogs from high kill shelters in Southern California.
However, Luvable isn’t like other rescues. Small dogs live in groups or packs inside cottages that have couches, multiple levels and outdoor access all day long. Pit bulls receive their own rooms with outdoor access as well. These special buildings that allow Luvable animal trainer and adoptions manager, Ashley Olsen, to understand how a dog may act within a home. Olsen, who has previous experience with exotic animals at Sea World and Zoo Miami, believes that working with rescue dogs gives her a purpose and makes her feel as if she is making a positive impact in the world.
Olsen provides specialized training to dogs that have specific behavioral issues in order to make them more adoptable. This could be anything from anxiety induced destructive habits, simple crate training or food aggressiveness. There are few issues that Olsen hasn’t seen. Since Olsen doubles as the adoptions manager, she also helps adopters with issues that may arise once the dog is placed in the home.
In order to adopt, potential families must fill out an interest indicator. This document asks about specific breeds, what size dog they are interested in, their housing situation and references. After this, potential adopters are contacted by Rosie Finkelstein, Luvable’s own adoption counselor. She further investigates whether potential adopters are prepared to have a new dog in their lives.
The second step in adopting is a meet and greet. Potential adopters are encouraged to bring any dogs they may already have and meet with the new dog on neutral territory. Olsen facilitates these meetings and it is during this rendition of “doggie speed dating” that people fall in love with a dog.
Finally, after a seven day sleepover, many adopters finalize their adoption and complete payment of the adoption fee. If at any point during that seven day sleepover, a potential adopter may return the dog to Luvable if it doesn’t seem like a good fit. While it is hard to find a “furr-ever” home every time, Olsen does everything in her power to facilitate a smooth transition.
Luvable Dog Rescue is unique in so many ways, whether it is the colorful cottages the dogs live in or the training dogs receive from each staff member, Luvable remains a safe haven for big and small dogs alike.