A Night Without A Family: Volunteers Experience Life As A Shelter Dog

A unique fundraiser recently provided a handful of volunteers a glimpse of what it is like to be a homeless shelter dog. The “Night without a Family” event was created by Cape Ann Animal Aid in Gloucester, Massachusetts. 

The goal of the event, which was held on November 11, was to raise awareness about pet adoption, while also raising funds for the shelter’s adoption program.

The shelter explained the event to Facebook followers:

For 24 hours, six dedicated individuals will live life as shelter dogs. They will experience walks, socialization, meal and play times. They will also experience life without the comforts of family or a home to call their own.

For all intents and purposes, participants took on the life of a shelter dog…from sleeping on the floor inside of of the adoption kennel run (without their cell phones for distraction!), to experiencing meal time, clicker training and play time.


Prior to the actual sleepover, participants shared some insight about their reasons for taking part in the fundraiser. Volunteer “Bailey” explained:

“The reason why I am doing this is to gain some insight as to what the dogs here feel…It’s bound to be a much different experience being behind the kennel door as opposed to looking in. This activity goes beyond me- it’s to raise awareness.”


Linda, another shelter volunteer, stated:

“I am spending 24 hours at Cape Ann Animal Aid on November 11-12 to experience a bit of what a shelter animal goes through when he (or she) comes from a home and family.”

Volunteer Christina added:

“I want to play an active role in raising awareness of pet adoption and I hope to raise funds that will go towards caring for my animal friends. Please consider donating to this cause. Every bit helps!”


The fundraiser was a success – in fact, the monetary goal of $2,000 was met and exceeded. Click here to read more about the fundraising effort.

Over and above the funds raised for the adoption program was the overall experience for those who participated in the 24-hour shelter event. Some volunteers noted that they most enjoyed the time spent outside of the kennel run, while others stated that they liked the training.


Everyone who participated in the Night Without A Family event came away with a bit more insight as to what a homeless dog goes through on their nights without a family – insight that can help shelter volunteers do all that they can to make the homeless dogs a bit happier during their shelter stay.

Find Cape Ann Animal Aid on Facebook here. Cape Ann Animal Aid website here.

Penny Eims

Penny is a freelance writer who provided content to her National Dog News column at Examiner.com for 8 years. She is a current contributor to Fido Friendly Magazine, as well as a newly formed website, Pet Rescue Report. Penny is married and she has two rescued German shepherds and two kids.