Instead of waiting for their forever home in a small cages surrounded by lots of scary noises, pit bulls at an Oregon rescue have their very own tiny cottage to live in.
Luvable Dog Rescue in Eugene has built six little homes for pit bulls on its 55-acre wooded sanctuary as an alternative to the more traditional concrete floor, dismal kennel setting many dogs live in at shelters.
“It can take many months to find the right home for a pit bull,” founder and executive director Liesl Wilhardt tells This Dog’s Life. “So to reduce ‘kennel stress’ during their stay with us, the cottages provide a peaceful home-like environment. Pit bulls also require a lot of ‘enrichment’ to prevent boredom and depression. So training sessions, hiking, dog-puzzle toys, games, all done in a more “home like” atmosphere reduces stress, too.”
Costing between $10,000 and $20,000 most cottages are able to house two pit bulls, each having their own room. The cottages have cozy furniture, dog beds, television, flower boxes outside the window, music and artwork hung on the walls — in hopes of providing some normalcy to a not-so-great situation.
There are also donated recliners for when volunteers come to snuggle, play or supervise the two pit bull roommates socializing. Plus, they are all equipped with heating, air-conditioning, a utility sink and fenced in yard with a covered outdoor area to protect the residents from the state’s horrible weather.
“It has taken many years to raise and earn the funds to create the existing infrastructure of our facility,” says Wilhardt. “This has been a labor of love for me personally for a very long time.”
Wilhardt chose the design of the cottages based on information found on the University of California Davis Veterinary School and its Koret School of Shelter Medicine website. “There are basic guidelines to creating a space for animals that is functional and easy to clean but also pleasant for the animal to live in,” she says.
Mothers with nursing puppies must live in the most sterile environment, which doesn’t always equate to a cozy space – as many things can carry germs. On the other hand, adult, vaccinated dogs get to enjoy a “less clean” environment with upholstered sofas, rugs and other home-like features.
When the dogs aren’t hanging out in the charming cottages, they are enjoying what the sanctuary has to offer. Volunteers and staff take the dogs on group hikes around the 55 acres, where goats, chickens and horses are a common site. Wilhardt tends to get to Luvable Dog Rescue early in the morning to walk the pit bulls and staff come later on to continue with the walks. Each pup will get at least a 45-minute hike but more often than not, they get out twice a day.
Besides the pit bulls at Luvable Dog Rescue, the rescue also houses 20-30 smaller breed dogs, known as “Littles,” in a main 1,200-square-foot kennel building. Each room has a raised “bunk bed” and a large window that looks out into the woods. These dogs tend to get adopted out within weeks, whereas pit bulls can take months, which is why Wilhardt invested in the cottage homes.
And not only do the dogs love it but people do, too.
“Volunteers and families visiting us to meet potential adoptable dogs love the cottages because they are just more comfortable and cozier to hang out in with the dogs,” says Wilhardt.