Broward County Animal Care dogs have appointments with volunteers for ‘lunch friends’ • Tamarac Talk

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By Agrippina Fadel

Having good company for lunch is essential, and Brandee Smith had found perfect dates for her Sunday outings through the Broward County Animal Shelter Lunch Buddy program.

A longtime resident of Coral Springs and an employee of the police department for more than 30 years, Smith discovered the volunteer opportunity through a friend and visits the Broward County Animal Care and Adoption Center every weekend. in Fort Lauderdale.

“I take out a different dog each time; usually one that the staff feel needs a break from the shelter environment. I pick them up at 11 a.m. and bring them back at 4 p.m., ”she said.

Sometimes Smith goes out for lunch at restaurants where dogs are allowed, takes a walk along the New River in Fort Lauderdale or visits one of the county’s many parks.

Volunteer takes Broward County Animal Care pit bulls on 'lunch buddy' dates

Julie walks around Fort Lauderdale in her special vest.

“It helps dogs decompress a bit,” Smith said. “They stay in cages until they are adopted and have to listen to all the barking every day, which can be stressful. Going out, taking walks and exercising are great for them. Even something as simple as smelling grass and sidewalks, which all dogs love to do, can be very exciting for these puppies.

Smith enjoyed his lunch with Julie – a six-year-old American Staffordshire – so much that she took her out twice. Julie is a sweet and kind dog who is clean, follows commands and takes treats well. This week she joined a shelter called Darbster Foundation and is still available for adoption.

Smith explained that the Lunch Buddy program exposes the dogs to the community. The dogs wear a vest that says “adopt me”, which comes with leashes, toys and a collapsible water bowl. People who meet them on walks and in restaurants can see their personality and imagine them as pets.

Volunteer takes Broward County Animal Care pit bulls on 'lunch buddy' dates

Julie takes a break during lunch. Restaurants, like Cheesecake Factory, usually give water to animals like they did with Julie.

“After a lunch, the shelter can get a better read on the dog and know what type of family would be a perfect fit for him. Some dogs can pull on a leash and require lots of exercise; others like to relax and go out. Some puppies want to smell the flowers – literally. The dog I took out last weekend wanted to stop and sniff all the flowers we passed,” she said.

Smith has always been a cat but has a thing for pit bulls. She took out six different pit bull dogs for lunch, and each of them was extremely friendly and grateful.

“They did very well in the car and were generally very happy to be out and about. Most of them were very affectionate. experience, they’ve always been so sweet,” she said.

Smith added that participating in the program also helps her. Walking a dog gives her the opportunity to get outside and get some fresh air as she walks through the park — something she says everyone can use after being indoors for so long during the pandemic.

Volunteer takes Broward County Animal Care pit bulls on 'lunch buddy' dates

Brandee and Julie after an afternoon together.

The Lunch Buddies program has been running for over four years and is open to all Broward residents over the age of 18. Secondary students may participate with parental or guardian permission. Dogs can be taken out for a day, a night or a weekend. Paperwork is minimal and the shelter provides food, toys and a leash for the dog.

To take a dog outside for lunch or inquire about placement opportunities, email the shelter at [email protected] To schedule a foster appointment and learn more about adoptable pets, email [email protected]

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Author Profile

Agrippina Fadel

Agrippina Fadel

Agrippina Fadel grew up in Siberia and earned her master’s degree in journalism from Tyumen State University. Agrippina is also a writer and editor at She has resided in the United States for over ten years and speaks English and Russian.

Benjamin M. Yerger