No one needs an incentive to take a vacation, but bringing home a (mostly free) puppy is pretty good motivation nonetheless. These five destinations are bucket-list-worthy in their own right, plus they’re eager to send visitors home with an adopted pup to boot.
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
Thanks to a flurry of media coverage in the last few years, Potcake Place has become the poster child for pet adoption vacations. The non-profit dog shelter is located in the idyllic Grace Bay area of Providenciales on the Caribbean island of Turks and Caicos. It’s named after the native “potcakes,” a cross-bred island dog that’s a unique mix of German Shepherd, Labrador, and English Fox Terrier. They’re known for being loyal, friendly, playful, and all-around great family dogs. Potcake Place offers a “play for a day” program for tourists to take its shelter pups for a walk, a day at the beach, or an overnight at their Airbnb. The hope, of course, is that they’ll grow so attached to their newfound furry friend that they’ll want to adopt them.
The Aspen Animal Shelter is a private, non-profit, no-kill shelter that provides temporary sanctuary to local dogs and cats in Aspen, Colorado. It encourages all forms of volunteering, from in-house cleanup to afternoon walks to a Rent-a-Pet Program. Visitors interested in the latter can “rent” a dog for a day or the entire length of their visit to Aspen. The shelter connects volunteers with dogs who match their interests, personality, and activity level. Of course, the hope is that visitors ultimately take their rented pooch home with them. It also provides an “Adopt Me” harness to let the world know that their dogs are looking for a new home.
The Maui Humane Society likewise encourages active visitors to borrow its shelter dogs for a day or more. Through its Beach Buddies Visitor Program, tourists can take a shelter dog along on a local hike, to a nearby beach, or even a dog-friendly restaurant. Volunteers are provided with a backpack full of everything they’ll need for a day out, including a water bottle, bowls, towels, poop bags, and a seatbelt. The program is so popular that volunteer spots are often reserved months in advance.
Heredia, Costa Rica
Territorio de Zaguates (literally “Land of the Strays”) is a sprawling, no-kill dog shelter in the mountains of Costa Rica. Its more than 1,300 resident canines include puppies, those with disabilities, seniors with serious health issues, and hundreds of breeds, all searching for a new family. On select days each month, the shelter opens its doors to visitors who want to walk, play with, and generally keep its pups company. For volunteers who take a liking to a particular dog (or two), the shelter will help facilitate the international adoption process.
Southern Utah — near the north rim of the Grand Canyon and home to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks — is already one of the most amazing destinations in the country. Best Friends Animal Society in the small town of Kanab wants to give travelers one more reason to visit. It’s home to roughly 1,600 animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, and farm animals. In addition to regular tours and open houses, the no-kill shelter encourages visitors to spend time with their animals — dogs included — in the hope that they just may take one home. The sanctuary can even facilitate extended visitor stays in its onsite cabins, cottages, and RV sites.
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