As a no-kill rescue, H.A.L.O. often ends up with extremely difficult cases where dogs are simply not adoptable due to aggressive and untrusting temperaments. At the beginning of 2019, we realized that half of our shelter space was filled with dogs that are not on the adoption floor because of such behavioral issues. This was unacceptable. These dogs were living a half life in the shelter with no future of a loving, forever home and we were unable to accept additional rescues because we simply did not have the space. In true H.A.L.O. fashion, Jacque resolved to find a solution to save these animals and not allow them to become another statistic. Through careful planning and research, “The Misfits Program” was born. The term misfit usually carries a negative connotation and implies that a person (or animal) is not good or worthy and is unable to conform to society’s standards and rules. At H.A.L.O., we believe all of our misfits are beautiful – special souls that require a little more love, patience and kindness before finding their place in this world. Sometimes misfits come from severe abuse and neglect and their fear translates into aggression. Sometimes they are strays who having never known a loving touch from a human and are untrusting. And sometimes, their fear and anxiety become so severe they shut down completely, unwilling to allow even the smallest human contact.
The Misfits Program is a rigorous training program carefully supervised by lead trainer, Jeff Bolling, where H.A.L.O. trainers work extensively with our unadoptable dogs through “pack work,” one-on-one training, and behavioral modification with a heavy emphasis on exposure. It is designed to build each dog’s confidence and trust and help them form human bonds they previously rejected. Each dog’s trainer decides when their “misfit” is ready for adoption and unlike our normal adoption process, WE search for their adopter. Additionally, all adopters have very specific guidelines they must adhere to, including attendance at multiple training sessions where they form a respectful and loving relationship with their misfit.
Recently, H.A.L.O.’s very first misfit, Little Trouble, passed over the rainbow bridge. Little Trouble was a veteran resident of PAWS when Jacque took over and formed H.A.L.O. in 2006. He had been there since 2004 and his future looked bleak. He was an energetic pit bull who hated other animals and had severe behavioral problems. In the beginning, Jacque was terrified of Little Trouble but eventually they came to understand each other and she made a vow to find his forever home. In 2013, that day finally arrived. A couple (we’ll call them Angels) walked through the shelter doors looking for the dog who had been there the longest. Jacque brought Little Trouble out and they fell in love with him and his friend, Marjorette. On that day, Little Trouble and Marjorette had a combined 4,756 days at H.A.L.O. and that’s the day they finally went home. For Jacque, that moment reaffirmed and strengthened her belief and mission – no animal deserves to be given a time limit.
To Little Trouble and all of the misfits that came after him, we thank you for showing us that compassion has no boundaries and love has no time limit. In just a few short months since the launch of “The Misfits Program,” we have successfully found homes for 5 of our previously unadoptable dogs. We keep in constant contact with their people and they are all doing happy and healthy in their new forever homes. “The Misfits Program” is another progressive and innovative step in our goal of a no-kill world.
It’s just a better way!
P.S. At H.A.L.O., we are often told that our dream of a no-kill world is impossible and every single day, we prove that with teamwork, community support and lots of hard work and love, we can make the impossible happen. Maybe we’re all misfits too…