There is something to be said about the people that dedicate their time to animals in need and Eva is no exception. She takes time out of her busy schedule to help work with dogs that need a little extra attention at the various shelters around the valley.
Working with them one on one as well as with another dog, she creates situations that build the dog’s confidence and repairs the bond with humans. The love Eva has for animals exudes from her the moment she is in the room with one.
In taking the time to work with these pups that either have been overlooked in the shelter or have a stigma to their breed, Eva gives them a chance to work with her to improve their odds of getting adopted quicker.
We want to thank Eva for sharing her expertise and time with us here at Lens and Leash. Helping these animals in need and educating people that could potentially adopt their next companion is our goal.
Lens And Leash: How long have you been a certified dog trainer and behavior counselor?
Eva Perrigo: I first started dabbling in training at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society in Santa Fe, NM. When I moved back up to Jackson, I apprenticed under a trainer in Alpine, WY for a year before I started working for DogJax and a trainer in November 2015. I started my schooling with The Academy for Dog Trainers in June 2014, and received my Certification on June 2, 2016.
Lens And Leash: What made you become a dog trainer?
Eva Perrigo: When working as an Adoption Counselor at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society, I was given the privilege of helping with the Behavior Department. Here I saw the what the power of positive training and proper behavior modification could do to transform a shut down animal into a loving companion. I knew then that working with dogs was what I was meant to do. Check out this video on how to choose a dog trainer:
Lens And Leash: What misconception do people have when it comes to dogs in shelters?
Eva Perrigo: Many people believe that all dogs that end up in shelters have major behavior problems and that they may not be reliable behaviorally. Unfortunately this is not always the case. Many times animals are relinquished due to housing (especially here in Jackson), death in the family, family emergencies, or financial strife.
Looking at the current animals up for adoption in various areas there always seems to be a pitbull mix of some sort there, why do you think they as a breed are in shelters so often?
Eva Perrigo: I don’t know the percentage of Staffy mixes compared to other breeds in shelters. So, assuming they are in shelters more so than other breeds I would say there could be many compounding reasons:
- Identifying breeds by looks alone can be quite deceiving. Trying to identify a breed by the shape of its head/color of its fur is pure guess work.
- Frequently bred by backyard breeders.
- Frequently bred in general.
- Currently a popular breed – lots of dogs are listed as “Lab” mixes too! As trends change we may see a change in the most frequent occurring breed to be seen in shelters.
- This breed is potentially not often spayed or neutered.
- Many communities/landlords have breed restrictions which can force them to be relinquished.
- They can be misunderstood and therefore looked over by potential adopters.
Lens And Leash: What breed of dog do you feel is the most misunderstood?
Eva Perrigo: There are many: Staffordshire Terriers, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, American Bulldogs, etc. Here is a great website on understanding dogs and why they do what they do. It’s the best website out there for this information: http://www.ispeakdog.org/
Lens And Leash: Is there a protocol you go through with each dog you train?
Eva Perrigo: When presented with a new dog, I obtain demographics (age/breed/spayed or neutered etc.) of the dog, pertinent history depending on why the owner has called or why the animal is in the shelter (needs basic obedience, jumping on people, not coming when called, fearful, dog/dog issues, dog/human issues etc.). I offer management tools (i.e. keep the dog and child separate until our first appointment) until we can meet. Then, if more than management is needed, I train.
Lens And Leash: Is there an average time period that needs to be set aside to train your new adopted dog?
Eva Perrigo: Training is happening at every moment of a dog’s life. Just like riding a bike, you can learn the basics but more practice and training will only make you better. If you don’t ride a bike for 10 years, your skills will become rusty. Dogs are the same way.
Lens And Leash: What are the questions you feel people should ask themselves before adopting an animal from a shelter?
Eva Perrigo: The most important question is do I have the time? Also important to think about life changes that might be happening in the near future (kids, moving, job change etc.) and how these would affect your time/money that your dog needs. Also, see attached handout.
Lens And Leash: If a dog is having a hard time getting adopted in a shelter, what do you do to increase their chances?
Eva Perrigo: Shelters can be a stressful place for many dogs, so if they start getting kennel syndrome (pacing, lunging, incessant barking, excessive drooling, fence fighting etc.) fosters are a great asset to give the dog time to relax. Fosters can also help with some behavioral issues that are only present in the home or out of the shelter. If it is a behavioral issue, the answer is to do Behavior Modification as well as potential adopter education.
Lens And Leash: Although people feel like physical exercise is very important for a dog is mental exercise for a dog just as important?
Eva Perrigo: I have a Mental Enrichment Handout that I think is really helpful to answer this: Mental Enrichment Handout
Lens And Leash: Have you ever adopted or fostered a pet?
Eva Perrigo: I have adopted 2 dogs, Beau and Stella. Beau is a 5.5 yr. old NM Rottweiler with 3 legs. Stella is a 1.5 yr. old SF mixed breed (currently waiting on DNA test results). When I worked at the SFASHS I fostered some little, itty, bitty, still nursing puppies who were left without their mother.
Lens And Leash: Did you always know you would be working with animals when you were young?
Eva Perrigo: I did not. I loved animals and at times thought about being a marine biologist or zoologist but that was among many things like astronaut etc.