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Want a dog for Christmas? Take a trial run with new Humane Society program

The Winnipeg Humane Society is encouraging would-be pet owners to 'check out' a dog as part of a new program. Global News / File

It’s a common refrain at this time of year: don’t give a dog as a Christmas present.

The Winnipeg Humane Society, however, says it might have a solution for those who want a pet to celebrate the holiday with, but aren’t yet sure if they’re ready for the long-term commitment.

The shelter’s new Dog Staycation Program lets potential pet owners ‘check out’ a large or medium breed dog for a weekend over the holidays.

READ MORE: Stressed-out shelter dogs seeking weekend staycations, says Winnipeg Humane Society

The Humane Society’s Javier Schwersensky told 680 CJOB Tuesday that while the program benefits families who want a trial of the pet experience, it can also have a major impact on the animals themselves.

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Winnipeg Humane Society CEO Javier Schwersensky. Winnipeg Humane Society

“We’re a shelter,” he said. “It’s a bit like a hospital – a very sterile environment in some ways.

“So we said, why don’t we give these dogs a break so their mental health improves and they’re better adoption candidates?

“We had a challenge from staff – why don’t we empty out all of the adoption pods, just for the Christmas season and give these dogs a wonderful opportunity?

“Give people who are thinking about having a pet at home the chance to meet these animals and see how they feel about it.”

Schwersensky said Winnipeggers should think of the WHS as a match-making service, and that there’s no judgement if someone takes a pet home for a staycation and it doesn’t work out.

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“There’s a commitment you make when you’re taking a pet home,” he said. “Sometimes we can explain it to you, but you can’t always grasp the responsibility and the joy of having a pet in your home.

“This is a perfect way you can kind of test the waters.”

To sign up for a pet staycation, fill out the form at the WHS website to register for the program.

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