The dark void of winter’s short days is upon us full force. It looks and feels pretty bad out there, but if you were considering just giving in to S.A.D., we have a solution. Nothing can chip through the winter blues like exercise and a dog smiling dumbly up at you. Even if , like so many people in Brooklyn you can’t swing the financial and spacial needs of a dog, you can still get your dog time for free by volunteering to walk orphan dogs who need a little love and socialization.
Take an afternoon break from work if you freelance, come by after work if you’re a 9-5er. Take a break from catatonically staring under your eyebrows out the window like Jack in The Shining if you’re unemployed. Bring a date, I mean, HELLO? A needy dog? That’s going to melt your date’s heart faster than the ice caps! If your love for animals doesn’t compel you perhaps your libido will. Brooklyn is home to three animal shelters that host ample dogs who need your love, so whatever your reason to walk one, you get your dog time and some time out of your apartment, the dog gets its people time and everyone wins.
The Sean Casey Animal Rescue
153 East 3rd Street (Windsor Terrace) and 551 39th Street (Sunset Park)
A non-profit organization, founded in 1998 in Windsor Terrace, where they are still located today, Sean Casey also has a Sunset Park location they opened after Hurricane Sandy. Both locations, which function as no-kill shelters, house dogs (along with cats, reptiles, birds and hamsters and so on) that are waiting to be adopted. In the meantime, these dogs need to be walked and socialized, both for their own well-being and to help them be suitable and appealing to potential adopters. That’s where you come in, my warm-fur-starved Brooklynites. Show up at either location, seven day of a week, and you can walk a dog for free between 11am and 6pm.
The Sunset Park location mostly has dogs larger than 30 pounds, including some great big galoots if that’s your thing, (that’s my thing.) If you’re more comfortable with small and tiny dogs, the Windsor Terrace location may be a better bet for you. Both locations only require that you be 18 or older, but beyond that rule, your path to sloppy dog kisses is completely open.
Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition (BARC)
253 Wythe Avenue (Williamsburg)
BARC is a no-kill shelter in Williamsburg, and unlike at Sean Casey, to volunteer with them you have be 21 or older. BARC has morning (9:30am to noon, Tuesday through Saturday) and evening (5:30pm to 8pm Monday, Tuesday and Thursday) volunteer walks, but just make sure you bring a photo ID with you to prove you are who you say you are and not Cruella DeVille. They also require you to fill out a volunteer form your first time.
Also be advised that the dogs at BARC tend to be on the larger and more rowdy side. This is more serious work for ride-or-die animal lovers who have experience with bigger and stronger breeds. It’s important here that you won’t find yourself intimidated by an unruly dog. It also helps to pop your neck and say “Okay…let’s do this.” when you meet them so they know you mean business. Basically this place is on expert mode when it comes to dogs, but they also have a cat loft you can volunteer at.
Yet another outstanding no-kill organization, the only downside to Badass is they don’t do walks per-se. Badass is an all-foster network, meaning all the dogs they sponsor are placed in foster homes around town and they have no actual shelter facility. They’re always looking for more fosters, of course, but if you could have a dog in your apartment, you probably wouldn’t have read this far.
They do however need volunteers to help out with adoption events, which are held on weekends in Williamsburg. When you volunteer at those, you have to do what must be the hardest thing on earth: convince someone to take the adorable dog that’s right in front of them, literally giving them the puppy dog eyes, home with them. Oh wait, we meant the easiest thing in the world, that will probably once again lead to sloppy dog kisses.
This city is packed with dogs that need your attention just as much as your soul needs a dog and your lungs need some fresh air. Seriously, you look kind of peakish. Are you OK?