What happens when an animal stays in a shelter for a long time?

Imagine having to wait for something for a short while, like an Amazon package or a food delivery. It’s not an agonizing wait.

Now imagine having to wait for these things for months or even years at a time. It’s not as fun to wait anymore, is it?

That’s the reality for long-term shelter animals, like Liam at The Humane Society’s Pet Rescue Adoption Center in Gadsden.

Fortunately, Liam – more affectionately known to shelter workers and volunteers as “Scooby” ​​– finally found a home on April 8.

Others are still waiting, however.

A Great Dane mix, Liam had been at the shelter since being brought in as a stray more than 500 days earlier. He reached that milestone on April 1, according to HSPRAC shelter manager Casey Champion. “He was brought back twice through no fault of his own,” she said. “It just didn’t work out.”

Champion described Liam as “a super awesome dog” who loves everyone and is great around other dogs; staff members often brought him out for playgroups with the rest of the shelter dogs

“He grew up here,” she said, “I remember when he was a tiny little one and now he’s a big dog.”

Champion said Liam’s ideal home is with someone who can spend a lot of time with him. She said he could jump, but was also very gentle with children. However, he is not a big fan of cats or farm animals such as chickens.

“He loves going on hikes with people and is not the kind of dog that can be locked in a room all day,” she said. “He likes to be with people and go for walks.”

Liam’s story, along with that of other animals at the shelter, had also gone viral online. HSPRAC posted a TikTok video of him on their profile, which garnered over 600,000 views and over 40,000 likes, with over 1,000 comments wishing him luck finding a home or wishing to consider adopting him themselves. same.

LOOK:Liam’s viral TikTok

Liam, a shelter dog at the Humane Society Pet Rescue Adoption Center.

Champion said social media has become an essential tool in the operations of the shelter, helping to increase the chances of adoption for their animals.

“Our social media has been boosted and has been a huge help,” she said. “Volunteers who post and talk about our dogs get our long-time dogs out faster.”

Their chances of adoption are also improved thanks to the collaboration with the local rescue services and the new reception system in place at HSPRAC.

“Before, we didn’t have a hospitality system, and putting one in place was a good thing,” Champion said.

However, it was the virality of Liam’s video that finally gave him a new home. The shelter was able to place him with a woman in Chattanooga, who has since given Liam her own TikTok account to continue providing people with updates on her life.

“He was adopted via the viral post on our page,” said Brittany Hicks, one of the shelter workers, “A lady from Chattanooga … saw his post and came here Friday to pick him up. ‘she’s post is really cute.’

Long-term stays in a shelter can be “horrendous” to an animal’s mental state, Champion explained, because being locked up in a kennel for most of the day with no interaction with people can be mentally draining.

Maddie’s Fund, a grant-funded charity that works with animals, says long-term stays in shelters can also lead to behavioral issues such as separation anxiety and house-training regression.

“The inescapable conclusion is that the placement experience, particularly in an animal shelter, can cause or exacerbate existing behavioral problems, and the shelter experience itself then negatively impacts the dog’s adoptability. and increases the likelihood of future abandonment,” according to its website.

However, Hicks reassured Liam was going to a good home, as his new owner has plenty of experience with rescue dogs who have been in a similar situation to Liam.

“We are absolutely thrilled to see him go to a good home. His new owner has experience with rescue dogs, especially dogs like Liam who have been adopted and brought back,” she said. “She’s been very good at acclimatizing to a new home and has gone out of her way to provide him with everything he needs to see him thrive.”

Champion said when an animal is in a shelter for a long time, it’s usually because potential adopters judge the book by its cover.

“Most of the time it’s the dog’s appearance that gets them ignored,” she said. “There are also kennel barrier issues and we often have to take the dog out of their kennel so people can see him better.”

She said the shelter previously had a long wait for dogs that tested positive for heartworm, but that hasn’t been an issue since implementing a treatment plan with a local vet.

Champion’s biggest advice for adopters is to spend as much time with the animal as possible before making an official decision on whether to bring it home.

“Bring your kids and other furry friends along to make sure they all get along,” she said. “Adoption requirements vary from animal to animal, as they all have different needs that must be met.”

Petfinder, a pet adoption website now owned by Purina, also offers a checklist for potential adopters to see if an animal would be a good fit.

Those interested in adopting or fostering Liam or any other animal at HSPRAC can visit https://hsprac.com/ or apply in person at 4200 Brooke Ave. The refuge is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Tuesday.