I met Brianne Hall on a busy Saturday morning at Onda Origins’ café & roastery in Hillman City. She was sipping on a steaming chai tea latte and texting volunteers who were bringing their foster dogs to meet Onda customers for an adoption event. Brianne works with Dog Gone Seattle, a dog rescue organization that relies on a network of over 300 volunteers to give dogs a safe landing spot while they find their forever homes.
Brianne was part of the founding team of Dog Gone Seattle (DGS) five years ago, and has fostered over 33 dogs since then. She started fostering after her own dog passed from cancer, but it didn’t take long for her to fall in love again. Six foster dogs in, she met Trudy, a people-loving pitbull with the same type of cancer as her last dog. “She couldn’t get close enough,” Brianne said, showing me pictures on her phone with Trudy’s face pancaked against her own. “If she could have crawled in my skin, she probably would have.” After 10 months of ups and downs with Trudy’s health, she finally met an equally sweet couple who adopted her. Brianne cried for two days, but was so happy because it was an amazing fit for Trudy (who lived for two more wonderful years with her new family), and because she could continue to foster more dogs.
One of the most amazing things about Brianne and DGS is their thoughtful approach to finding loving homes for dogs in need. These dogs are often being transported from California or Texas, which can be a tough journey for dogs who are already dealing with the trauma of being mistreated or abandoned. DGS then finds a committed volunteer who can provide a home for the dog while it decompresses from the transition and heals from any medical care it received. This lets DGS get a better read on the dog’s personality as it comes out of its shell, so that case managers like Brianne can match them with the right forever home. Brianne also provides fosters with amazing training tips to help better prepare dogs for adoption, like how to walk on a leash (something many of these dogs may have never done before).
There’s no question DGS’s approach requires much more work than placing dogs directly with their adopters, but Brianne says they’ve seen how skipping these steps can lead to more people returning dogs. “A dog is not a robot,” she says. “It’s a living creature that has feelings, so they might seem like the best dog in the world, but half an hour later when you put them in a different situation they might react differently, and then all of the sudden [adopters are] like oh no, what did I get myself into. So to be honest, it’s like a no brainer to me. If you really understand dogs as complex creatures, why would you do it any differently?”
Brianne says that people always tell her that they could never foster, that it would be too hard to let the dogs go. “When I think about how many dogs are euthanized and how many are sitting in shelters, and you see pictures, that’s 10 times more heartbreaking to me than having to let a dog go,” she says. “It’s like you're taking care of someone else's dog. If we had that mindset we’d have a lot more fosters and a lot less dogs in shelters or euthanized.”
You can see all of DGS’s adoptable dogs (and reach out to volunteer as a foster) at doggoneseattle.org