The Williamsburg Police Department in Virginia was looking for ways to have positive interactions with its community. The local animal shelter was looking for ways to call attention to dogs that were up for adoption. As it turns out, it was a match made in heaven.
It all started when Senior Police Officer Aundrea Holiday reached out to the Heritage Humane Society to see if they could team up and borrow fur babies in need of forever homes. Holiday worked with Humane Society volunteer Jennifer Lafountain to create K9 for a Day, a partnership in which the animal shelter lends a dog to the Williamsburg P.D. for a five-hour shift as a “deputy.”
Holiday, who is the community engagement officer for the Williamsburg P.D., became the point person for the program and gets a new companion each time. She takes her animal partner — always dressed in an orange vest that says “Adopt Me” — on a tour of the town. The dogs get to enjoy fresh air, sunshine, attention and plenty of treats.
“These dogs are treated like kings and queens,” Holiday told The Virginia Gazette. “When they’re with me, they get the royal treatment.”
Holiday has developed some traditions with her pup partners. She takes them to City Hall, the Chamber of Commerce and through Colonial Williamsburg, a popular tourist destination. Then they hit up Hound’s Tale Corner Barkery for some treats before finishing with a cheeseburger at McDonald’s.
“We love having them stop by our shop and love to spoil them a little when they and the officer come for a visit,” Monique Sowell, who works at Hound’s Tale, told The Virginia Gazette.
It’s easy to see how effective the program has been, both for the dogs and the police department. One look at the Williamsburg P.D.’s Facebook page tells you how much the local citizens love the program.
“What a great thing to do!” said one citizen. “What a wonderful program to help these very sweet dogs. Thank you WB police for all you do,” said another. “I love that you guys do this. Wish I could adopt them all,” added a third.
Several of the dogs involved in the K9 for a Day program have been adopted by people they met during the course of their adventures. Others have been adopted thanks to the signal boost provided by social media. The program has been such a success that the Heritage Humane Society has been able to hire a full-time behaviorist to train the dogs while they’re at the shelter, increasing the likelihood of even more being adopted.
While the program has been wonderful for the community and the shelter, the biggest winner of all might be Officer Holiday, who gets to spend her time at work regularly bonding with new good boys and girls.
“I love the fact that they’re entrusting these precious babies with me,” Holiday told the Williamsburg Yorktown Daily. “I have the best job ever.”