Locals Foster Almost 100 Dogs During Northwest Florida Cold Snap

Locals Foster Almost 100 Dogs During Northwest Florida Cold Snap

a woman snuggles with a foster dog at her home.
❄️ When the weather turned frigid, hearts warmed up! Discover how a community came together to foster shelter dogs during the coldest days, making a lasting impact on both pups and people. 🐾

Jennifer Schellinger loves dogs. 

So when she heard about the all-call for anyone to take in dogs during the coldest days of the year we’ve had in the last couple of weeks – she stepped right up and brought home a what she thinks is a ‘Viszla Hound.’ He’s named Clawd. 

“When he barks, which – he doesn’t bark very much. It sounds like a hound,” Schellinger said with a laugh, “So, I really don’t know what kind of dog he is.”

The shelter, operated by The Panhandle Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), sometimes has no heating or air conditioning for dogs in the kennels, and dogs have to find a place to stay. Typically, volunteers with PAWS and employees will take as many home as possible.

This year, though, that changed. 

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a dog in a sweater
Clawd is dressed for winter by his foster mom, Jennifer Schellinger.

“It chokes me up every time, just thinking about it,” said PAWS Executive Director Ashley DeGraaf. She believed her desperate plea on social media wouldn’t be answered. “I was just kind of speechless when as many people [stepped] forward to help, to get the dogs out of the elements,” she added. 

Almost 100 people, along with Jennifer, fostered pups during the chill. The pound, run by PAWS, couldn’t keep up with the requests to help and eventually put on their social media that people could come by, sign up, and foster a pet on site. 

So far, many ‘foster families’ have ended up keeping the dogs for the long haul. Only thirty of the ninety or so dogs have come back to the shelter. 

Schellinger, a researcher by trade, agrees with PAWS’ assessment. “I’ve done a little bit of research on how bringing a dog home or out of the shelter might help [dogs get adopted.] There’s research that suggests that even getting a dog out of that sort of stressful setting for a short amount of time makes them more adoptable,” Schellinger said.  

She believes little efforts like these can improve the lives of dogs she hopes will soon be adopted by loving families. 

“It seemed like this was a strong need to me in the community. So, being able to step up, even for a short amount of time – it just seems like something that’s really important.”

Christopher Saul

Christopher Saul

Christopher Saul is the publisher of Mid Bay News. He graduated from Southern Methodist University's School of Journalism with a Convergance Journalism Degree and a Master's Degree in Public Administration From Florida State.

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