Saturday, May 28, 2022

‘Precious babies’: Here’s how many shelter dogs Williamsburg Police has helped to rehome

Nora sits in a Williamsburg Police parking enforcement vehicle. (WYDaily/Courtesy WPD)
Nora sits in a Williamsburg Police parking enforcement vehicle. (WYDaily/Courtesy WPD)

Nearly two months ago, Senior Police Officer Aundrea Holiday took a black-and-white terrier-pitbull mix named Princess out on the town in Williamsburg.

Then Holiday took out a caramel-colored Daphney, a green-eyed Apple, a wiggly terrier named Paisley, a treat-loving pitbull named Nora, a cheeseburger-eating Chimichanga and a brindle princess named Delaney.

And since then, almost all of them have been adopted from the Heritage Humane Society.

Still in its infancy, the Williamsburg Police Department and Heritage Humane Society’s K9 for a Day program has helped five of seven shelter dogs find new homes — only Nora and Delaney were left as of Friday.

“I love the fact that they’re entrusting these precious babies with me,” Holiday said. “I have the best job ever.”

Once each week, Holiday takes a quick drive over to Heritage Humane Society on Waller Mill Road and picks up a pup chosen by shelter staff. On Thursday, Holiday took Delaney out.

Throughout the morning, Holiday and her canine companion patrol the streets of Williamsburg. Most often, they’re not looking for crime — they’re looking to make friends.

Holiday is the community engagement officer for Williamsburg Police, meaning it’s her job to connect with the community outside of public safety and criminal situations.

“The dogs are icebreakers,” Holiday said.

RELATED STORY: Princess and the police: Homeless pets partner with cops for community patrols

Princess, the two-year-old mix from Heritage Humane Society, sits in a Williamsburg Police vehicle Wednesday, Feb. 7. (WYDaily/Courtesy Williamsburg Police Department)
Princess, the 2-year-old mix from Heritage Humane Society, sits in a Williamsburg Police vehicle Wednesday, Feb. 7. (WYDaily/Courtesy Williamsburg Police Department)

Finding homes

Sometimes those friends become “forever” friends.

When Holiday took Apple out in Williamsburg on Feb. 21, she had already been at the humane society two months.

“This girl working at Yankee Candle, she really lit up when she saw Apple,” Holiday said.

The woman later adopted Apple.

The woman from Yankee Candle wasn’t the only person who fell in love with a K9 for a Day dog — Holiday did, too.

When Holiday first started the program, she knew she would fall in love with every dog she spent time with, but she loved one dog, Daphney, enough to put in an application for adoption.

Holiday was too late, and another family adopted the caramel-colored pitbull.

“I cried after I found out I couldn’t get her,” Holiday said. “I had already begun to picture life with her in my home … but as long as they have a forever home, that’s the only thing that really matters.”

Senior Police Officer Aundrea Holiday poses for a photo with Daphney, a dog she tried to adopt after spending a morning with her through the K9 for a Day program. (WYDaily/Courtesy WPD)
Senior Police Officer Aundrea Holiday poses for a photo with Daphney, a dog she tried to adopt after spending a morning with her through the K9 for a Day program. (WYDaily/Courtesy WPD)

A focus on behavior

Heritage Humane Society Executive Director Kimberly Laska said the K9 for a Day program has been “absolutely” successful in getting the dogs out into the community and later adopted.

The K9 for a Day program has also helped convince Heritage to do more: the humane society has hired a full-time behaviorist and will increase its focus on training, Laska said.

In October, Heritage staff posted a 20-second video on Facebook that later went viral. Part of the shelter’s dog enrichment program, the video showed a row of dogs in kennels licking and pawing at colorful flying discs covered in peanut butter and zip-tied to the kennel doors.

The ordinarily loud room was silent, save for the sounds of dogs contentedly licking the treat.

The Newport News Police Department has also started highlighting adoptable pets on social media. On Feb. 26, the department announced its new partnership with the Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter on Facebook, called “Tail Wagging Tuesday.”

Social media is also crucial for the K9 for a Day program, Holiday said.

Holiday takes the dogs out to meet people in-person, but posting the candid photos of the dogs with city staff, children and other passersby on social media broadens the program’s reach.

Holiday typically takes the dogs out on Thursday mornings, then shares a post about the dog later in the day on the Williamsburg Police Department Facebook page.

“We need them to share their stories because they all deserve the very, very best,” Holiday said.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

Related Articles

MORE FROM AUTHOR