This Tucson Shelter Lets You “Rent” Rescues For Day Trips and Sleepovers

Dogs require a certain commitment. They demand regular walks, food, treats, playtime, and – of course – plenty of room to roam, which often makes dog ownership unrealistic for renters and time-strapped city dwellers.

But what if we told you one Tucson-based shelter was heralding a unique program that lets people to “rent” rescued dogs for day trips and sleepovers?

The program has been a huge hit with animal-lovers who can’t commit to full-time dog ownership but still want to hike, walk, run, or play with a furry canine companion. Others appreciate the chance to meet dogs before committing to adoption or long-term foster care.

According to Pima Animal Care Center, the Tucson-based shelter facilitating this novel pet-sharing approach, a number of these sleepovers actually do lead to adoption.

But even if they don’t, PACC still considers the day/weekend/evening away time well-spent by simply giving dogs a break from the shelter, which typically verges on stressful with all of the barking, but can be especially nerve-wracking for older and anxious dogs.

“There’s no comparison to the love and attention a dog could get in a home given by one person,” PACC foster coordinator Rachel Jones told Tucson News Now. “Either they don’t come back because the person who takes them falls in love with them or they’re like ‘I’m going to market this animal into adoption,” she said.

That’s what happened to Laurie Fenske, an animal lover who got involved with PACC’s day-tripper program last year by hosting a rescue named Missy. Fenske, who is actively grieving the loss of her Yorkie, knew she wasn’t yet ready to adopt, but still found her day with Missy — and then with Melanie, and the other adoptable PACC rescues she’s showed off around town to help them find forever homes – a therapeutic way to further a cause she holds dear.

“If you can help one, that’s a good thing,” Fenske told Tucson News Now. “Dogs touch people’s lives. They make them smile. Even if they’re not adopting them.”

Regardless of your intentions, the rent-a-pet process is simple, says Jones. PACC gauges the temperament of each dog as they enter the facility, then gathers profiles for dogs that are confident, comfortable, social, and easily handled into a binder for people to browse through at the front desk.

Day-trippers simply notify staff about which dog they’d like to take out, sign a foster care agreement, exchange telephone numbers, and let PACC know when they’ll be back. The shelter even sends these budding BFFs out with a list of dog-friendly places to check out around town.

Regardless, if you’re a dog lover living in or around Tucson, this win-win approach is a novel way to enjoy the perks of pet ownership and help rescued dogs, which is more important than ever considering that PACC is running at record capacity with over 400 animals. Please email Pima Animal Care Center at at if you would like to get involved.

Learn more about this program in the video below!

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J. Swanson is a writer, traveler, and animal-enthusiast based in Seattle, an appropriately pet-crazed city where dog or cat ownership even outweighs the number of kids. When the weather permits, she likes to get outside and explore the rest of the Pacific Northwest, always with a coffee in hand.
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