From the beginning it has been for the dogs.
In 2007 Hood River county completed construction of its first animal shelter. The construction funds were provided by a generous bequest of Ross and Daphne Hukari. Prior to this time stray dogs were transported to Southwest Humane Society in Vancouver, WA for adoption, by PROD volunteers. In addition to this service, PROD was involved for many years prior to 2007 in providing spay/neuter funds, dog placement, and education in the Hood River schools.
Once the new dog shelter was completed, Susan Kent worked with the county and community to create committee of citizens to provide care for the dogs while housed in the shelter after they were picked up by the county sheriff’s office as strays or injured dogs. AAD created and operated the adoption services for dogs that did not get claimed by their owners, and therefore remained housed in the shelter. These volunteers became the Adopt A Dog county committee which established the programs to ensure loving care of the dogs being housed at the shelter (lovingly referred to as “guests”), including walks, feeding, socialization, medical treatment, cleaning, vaccinations and spay/neuter prior to being adopted out. This was accomplished by Adopt A Dog volunteers handling two shifts per day, morning and evening. Without Adopt A Dog the dogs would be held in indoor kennels 23 hours each day. A foster program was initiated so that volunteers would foster dogs in their homes, thereby reducing the shelter population and the dogs’ stress from being in a shelter. The pioneer dogs of 2007 won’t be forgotten: Radar, Norman, and Heidi.
Fundraising began immediately, and the first project was to pay for the installation of a fence in a large outdoor space behind the shelter so that dogs would have a space to exercise. This also included the purchase and spreading of wood chips in the large yard, so dogs would not be covered in mug during the rainy season. Fundraising continues as the sole means to operate AAD and to provide its services.
In 2009, Hood River Adopt A Dog (AAD) became its own tax exempt, non profit organization. AAD contracted with (and continues to contract with) Hood River County to continue to provide its volunteer services, expanding its duties every year. Soon AAD began to work with owners who could no longer keep their dogs for various reasons, whether due to the owner’s illness or death, lack of space, or often minor behavior problems. This “owner surrender” program gave dog owners a safe alternative to dropping dogs in the wild or on the streets only to await an uncertain future, cold, fear, hunger and numerous dangers with the lucky ones being picked up and taken to the safe haven of AAD.
Over the years services continued to expand. In 2016 AAD took over the programs of PROD, which then terminated its services. After many years, PROD founder Cleo Sterling was able to retire, feeling confident that its need based spay/neuter financial assistance program, classroom educational program and emergency medical fund would continue as services of AAD.
AAD volunteers have provided thousands of hours of their time to help hundreds of dogs find safe haven within the shelter and in foster homes, cared for the numerous dogs that were housed until they could be returned to their original owners, and provided information to the public about where to find their lost dogs and how to care for their dogs. Through its fundraising efforts AAD has been able to hire a few super dedicated employees to organize this whole operation. Janette Skarda, the current shelter manager, was a mega volunteer until coming in as an AAD employee. There are too many volunteers and employees to name here who have made AAD the success it is today.