woman-hugs-shelter-dogAruba, the emancipated American Staffy won’t budge. “He doesn’t want to leave the only place he’s found love” sympathises Nicky, a Young Animal Protection Society (YAPS) volunteer. Nicky is trying to give Aruba a walk nearby but he just wants to return to the shelter. “We often have dogs that try and break back in!” laughs Carol Clifton, the Centre’s Coordinator. It’s obvious from the outset that this is a shelter that offers animals more than just protection…

The first thing that you notice when you arrive at YAPS, set on the outskirts of Cairns’ Northern Suburbs, is the noise. Dogs of all shapes and sizes are doing a whole lotta talking. On the morning I visit they have a total of 55+ dogs on the premises and 23 cats, not to mention the 20 odd animals that are currently in Foster care with families. Over half of these dogs are not for adoption, they are boarding temporarily whilst their families are on holiday or working.YAPS-and-dog-leadsThe boarding facilities at YAPS provides crucial income for the dogs that come via other means – off the streets, surrendered or from the local pound. Aruba, the red-nosed staffy has arrived via an out-lying community. His teeth were so rotted that it took carers a while to realize that this was a young dog, only 18 months old.

The centre is a hive of activity on the morning I visit. Volunteer dog-walkers take a steady stream of dogs out for walks nearby. Other volunteers and staff are busy preparing food, doing laundry, cleaning pens, rotating the dogs into exercise yards, filling out paperwork and answering phone-calls. It may seem like chaos to the first-time observer but everybody appears to know what their roles are for the day.shelter-dogs-behind-wireChristmas is YAPS busiest time. Not so much for the intake of homeless dogs (that never stops apparently) but for the dogs who require a boarding kennel whilst their owners are away. It is a major earner for YAPS and the kennels book out mid-year. The best way to help YAPS at this time of year is to offer a foster home to one of their adoptable dogs (even better is to adopt but that’s not always possible).

The 10 days over Christmas are crucial. Staff and volunteer levels are pushed and the amount of dogs in care are high. Fostering the shelter dogs helps ease the load plus it has hidden benefits. “10 days in a family environment makes a big difference to our dogs,” says Carol “when they return the dogs are much more settled.” Of course, for some of the luckier ones, they get to stay with their newly found families – an extra Christmas bonus for everyone involved.

sad-dog-on-lead-YAPSAnd what about Aruba? He’s still a long way off being adoptable. With ribs poking out, a tail tucked up tightly between his legs and listless eyes, he is one sorry sight. He’ll need to put on some weight before his visit to the Vets for the obligatory vaccination shots, microchipping and desexing. In the meantime I’m sure he’ll be receiving a whole lotta loving from the devoted YAPS crew.

Are you doing something special for your local shelter over the Xmas period?

I’m joining Tuesday’s Tails blog hop hosted by Dogs ‘N Pawz which is designed to promote adoptable dogs.