Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Companion Animal Alliance is starting a new program that allows lonely hearts to go on all the dates they want.

Date-a-Dog is a volunteer program at CAA’s new location on campus across from Alex Box Stadium. Started by Susan Arnold and Holly Carville, volunteers for the non-profit shelter, the initiative aims to help socialize the dogs for adoption and also serve as advertising.

Another benefit of the new building is that University students who live on campus and are not allowed to have pets can now easily sign up for Date-A-Dog and spend some time with a four-legged companion. All they need to do is participate in a 30-minute orientation held each month.

CAA was founded in 2010 to decrease the number of animals euthanized in East Baton Rouge Parish. The shelter has increased the EBRP animal save rate from 20 percent to 70 percent over the past decade, according to its website. The save rate is the percentage of animals the shelter takes in that are adopted.

The women both credit each other with getting the program running, but Arnold said Carville did all the work.

“Holly was the one who really took the bull by the horns,” Arnold said.

In less than a month, Carville got t-shirts, bandannas and posters made. She also got the word out through social media and worked on the logistical aspects with CAA. But for Carville, Date-a-Dog is only about one thing.

“Fun,” Carville said. “It is just about fun.”

She said there are all kinds of activities people can do with the dogs, such as bathing them before leaving and hopping in the car for an adventure.

Now, with the recent change in location and the creation of the Date-a-Dog program, CAA wants to raise the number of activities even higher. Carville said the organization loves its new facilities and location next to the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine.

“My sister (a member of CAA’s board) said it just has made everyone so happy to be in such a fabulous facility,” Carville said.

While the program is geared toward helping the dogs at CAA, it can also help people who just want to relax by spending time with man’s best friend. Lacey Lamana, a nurse in Baton Rouge, said her friend invited her along for the orientation on Jan. 5.

“I had rescued a dog before and that changed my life, so I’m passionate about homeless animals,” Lamana said.

Like CAA, Lamana believes that Date-a-Dog will help the community to be more aware of the good nature and adoptability of shelter animals.

“I think it brings awareness to the public that there are great pets in the shelters that need good homes,” she said.

Lamana’s chosen dog, a black bull-terrier mix named Kanye, could barely contain his excitement once he got outside. His tail wagged constantly as he dragged Lamana along, ready to explore LSU with his new friend.

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