You can now rent a dog for a day at a Florida adoption center

If you want a furry companion to walk, play and snuggle without the full-time commitment, maybe you should just rent a dog.

You can, with a recently new program SPCA Florida’s Adoption Center in Lakeland.

The “Doggy Dates” initiative not only helps improve the shelter dogs’ social skills but gives families and students who might not be able to afford a pet the chance to experience what it’s like. It also increases the chances the dog might be adopted, according to the non-profit’s website.

Renting a dog is free, the center said, but renters will be vetted like foster families to ensure the safety of the pets.

While foster and “Match-A-Pet” programs exist across the state like in the Humane Society of Greater Miami, the “doggy date” concept seems to be new. Only a few shelters in the country offer their own date programs. Most of them launched in the past two years.

In South Florida, the Broward County Animal Care and Adoption created a similar program called “Lunch Buddies” last year. In that program, volunteers can take the shelter dogs out during a lunch break to a nearby dog-friendly restaurant or eat in the park.

How do doggy dates work?

The process is simple at SPCA. First, you visit the center’s “Rent A Dog” page to see what pooches are participating in the program. The website shows a picture of the dog, a short personality description and a quick fact sheet like the dog’s age, breed and how much it costs to adopt it. The picture will also tell you if it’s ready to go on a date.

Renters should pick their top three pups and email it to the center’s program coordinator with the date and time they want. Renters also need to include their name, driver license number, phone number and email address. The request will typically process in 24 hours.

If your request is approved, the center will give you a sheet with suggestions on what to do, a harness, collar, bowl for water and a quick fact sheet on the dog when you go pick it up. The staff will also go over safety, restrictions and other information you need to know.

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Real Time/Breaking News Reporter. There’s never a dull moment in Florida — and I cover it. Graduated with honors from Florida International University. Find me on Twitter @TweetMichelleM