Archive | News

How 4 Shy Dogs Became Family Dogs

Entering a shelter, rescue, or animal control looking for your special 4-legged new family member is a great feeling. There are so many to choose from that need forever homes! The dogs that always appeal to people are the excited, smiling ones who come to the front of their pen and greet you, whether it be with a wagging tail or a welcoming bark. Those are the happy, socialized dogs that always get adopted. Dogs who cower, hide, or hunker down in the back of their pens are sometimes overlooked and are deemed “unfriendly.” Nothing could be farther from reality. Those dogs need love too and most are quick to overcome their shyness or fear once they have the security and love from their new human.

Please, don’t ever let the fact that a dog is shy prevent you from adopting him or her. At Born Free we have had shy, scared dogs of all breeds and sizes. Some have had a rough start in life and that is why they are skeptical of humans. Some are just born that way; dogs, like humans, all have different personalities and comfort zones. Anyone who has adopted a shy dog rarely regrets it; they all say once the dog gets comfortable in their new life, they are happy!

So, the next time you’re browsing the shelter for that special dog, don’t discount the shy “unfriendly” ones – go in and meet them, because they may be exactly what you were looking for.

Below are some shy dogs adopted from Born Free:


“Ask anyone to name one person, including themselves, who at some point in their life hasn’t been either frightened, confused, or anxious, and I am confident that they would be unable to do so. Now think of the love and respect that you felt, or ever still feel, for the person who accepted you or adorned you with patience and presence, or encouraged you towards a better way while allowing them to see you at your worst. There is an unmistakable bond formed in this type of cultivation of a vulnerable relationship, and it is no different than with a misunderstood animal, such as my girl, Matilda. Some might even say that the best friendships are ignited in this way!”

~ Nicole


“We were looking for a dog for two months. We didn’t know what kind of dog would be a good fit for us and our lifestyle. At first, we were looking for a specific breed, then the next day for a younger dog, the next day for a puppy, the next day for a high-energy dog.

We were looking at the shelter’s website and when we saw Leia, it was a love at first sight. We called immediately so we could get to know her as soon as possible. When we met Leia, she was scared, stressed, distant and she had sad eyes. Her ex-owner left her at the shelter, and she had a broken heart. After one hour talking to her to gain her trust, we finally gave her a treat and we made a connection. In that moment, we realized that we were looking for a dog we could help and give a second chance to, and to support her so she could heal and become a happy dog.

The next day we filled out the papers for the adoption and we brought Leia to our home. She stayed in the opposite room from us, she was scared, and she didn’t understand where she was or who we were. At night when we went to bed and the lights were off, she woke up and started walking around to discover her new home. This gave us the signal that the walls were broken down.

After 3 months, she still is shy with strangers, but once she knows you, she is excited to see you. She wags her tail and walks faster to say hi to her friends. She loves being in the same room where we are. She loves her first walk in the morning and is comfortable to follow her routine and at the same time taking new adventures that challenge her. Every day increases her confidence. She is doing better, and she feels better.

It’s a long way for Leia to learn how to play with a toy again, to have confidence around our apartment, and to jump on the sofa – it will take time, but we will do it with love.

This is something important that you should know if you are going to adopt a young or adult pet: They come with their own personality just as you have yours, so this is a partner journey where both of you are going to start a beautiful relationship, a new friendship for the rest of your lives, where they’ll never let you walk alone, they’ll love you unconditionally, and they’ll take care of you while expecting nothing but a lovely word or warm cuddle.”

~ Paula & Jose


“Because Ginger was so shy and scared when she was surrendered, I agreed to foster her rather than having her stay at the shelter. Ginger’s whole body quivered as I held her. The drive home scared her. My home scared her. The yard scared her. Wind scared her. Grass scared her. My cats really scared her. She was a very shy, scared little dog.

Ginger wouldn’t come out of her open crate for 2 days; she never barked or made a sound. Then, slowly, she started coming out, coming over to sniff me, and eventually she jumped in my lap, which was such amazing progress, it made me cry. It was hard not to love this shy little dog who had stolen my heart. She quickly learned that she’d never be told “no”, she’d never be yelled at, and she could get on any piece of furniture she wanted, which included sleeping with me. Every day was something new for her, and she eventually overcame her most of her shyness. She made so much progress quickly and now is a very happy, well-adjusted, cat-chasing, wonderful dog; only fireworks and thunder scare her (they scare me too).

Ginger goes on vacation, she loves hotel-life, is a great little watchdog, and has been in more National and State Parks than most people! Her favorite place is Everglades National Park where she sits by the Bay, hoping to see manatees come up for air! She even got a “Bark Ranger” tag from Biscayne NP for being a well-behaved canine visitor. As long as she is with one of us, she is happy. During these virus stay-at-home months, Ginger has brightened our existence. She gives so much love and asks for nothing in return except to always be with us.

When I took Ginger to foster, they insisted I take her crate so she would have a place to feel secure; I reluctantly took it. Soon, she would go in it less and less. After she was completely at ease, I put it out in my shed and bought her a cushy bed instead, which is now her happy, secure place. I’m telling you; shy dogs quickly learn they are loved and no longer have to be shy or scared. Of course, I was a foster fail and ended up adopting Ginger! I was always a big-dog person (big sturdy breeds), but this little 16-pounder has brought far more into my life than I ever thought possible, so I guess I am a little-dog person now! We just love her so much and wonder how we ever got along without her!”

~ Julie

Ace (formerly Nico)

“Ace has been home for two weeks now. He came home the day of adoption and wouldn’t leave the bathroom after we bathed him – he was so shy. He slowly made his way out as the day passed and by the next morning, he started to realize this was home. Although he still is shy meeting new people, he is definitely more open than when he first came home. He cuddles, plays and enjoys runs and the dog park. Fairly quickly he opened up to us and he makes our home complete. Special thank you to all at Born Free Pet Shelter for taking such good care of Ace and blessing our family with him.”

~ Kamila

Happy Father’s Day to All You PAW-Some Dads Everywhere!

Father’s Day is approaching and it’s time to recognize all the wonderful fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, adult brothers, and other father figures that have positively impacted our lives. It’s also time to celebrate all the amazing dog dads that have opened their hearts and homes to shelter animals. For all those late-night walks, car rides to the park, endless games of fetch, belly rubs, occasions of picking up poop and lazy afternoons on the couch – we say THANK YOU! You all have truly made a huge difference in the lives of the animals you have adopted. For this, we dedicate June 21st to you!

In honor of Father’s Day, we wanted to share a few heart-warming adoption stories from Born Free dog dads. Here’s what they had to say.

Lina (Boxer/Hound Mix)

“I had been thinking about adopting a dog for a few months… looking around online for “big” dogs that were currently in a shelter. I had noticed that Born Free had many amazing dogs, so I figured I’d give it a shot and visit in-person. I visited many great dogs that day, but there was one that I just instantly connected with. I asked Maria if I could have a week or so to think about actually adopting, and she happily obliged.

The following days provided me plenty of time to think, and it became obvious in my heart and mind that I had found the right dog. I adopted her the next weekend. Lina – my 75lb boxer/hound mix with a unique back leg (due to prior injury)! Lina has been such a source of joy for me and I can’t really imagine not having her around now. I’ve had her since January 2019, and the past 15 or so months have been so much fun! One unexpected benefit of having a dog was all the new people I would begin to see and interact with much more often… because they have dogs too! Living in an apartment in Brickell, Lina met many dogs, but never had a lot of space to play. Now that we’ve moved to a house in Jacksonville, she has a huge yard and plays out there all day!

It is strange to me that I get so much joy from knowing she is having fun and enjoying life. I guess that is how parents feel about their human kids! Lina has definitely changed my life in a positive way. Adopting her has made me more aware of something other than myself… and has shown me how personally rewarding it is to care for another being. Considering the meaning of Father’s Day, caring for and loving Lina has definitely shed light into the highs, and lows of fatherhood, yet also how fulfilling the entire process is. She is truly special… and my Queen! ”

~ Jake, Lina’s Dad

Bosch (American Bulldog Mix)

“We first met Bosch at a farmers market in Pinecrest. My wife was the first to spot him and I must say, we were immediately drawn to him. He was a gentle giant. We wanted a big dog again, after the loss of our American bulldog Zach, but wanted to make sure Bosch would be a good fit. After all, we have the resident queen, Zippy, our seven- pound Dachshund who runs the house. We set out a couple of times to visit the shelter with the kids and it was a hit. We decided to adopt Bosch and finally brought him home. 

He is such a good dog. He loves to play catch and is very playful for such a big boy. It’s great to watch him run around in our backyard, and I love when he comes to sit by me to keep me company. Bosch seems to be a mix breed with part American bulldog. This is our second and I love the breed. They are warm and caring – not something you would expect from such a big and intimidating dog. We love having Bosch at home and couldn’t be happier with him.”

~ Jose, Bosch’s Dads Dad

Jojo (Boxer Mix)

“JoJo has been nothing but an amazing girl. She is so smart, friendly, and always down for a good game of fetch! She has brought so much joy to my life in the month I’ve had her, and I now can’t imagine my life without her. She loves walks, belly rubs, and cuddles. She has also turned into my alarm clock, which is definitely a good thing haha!”

~ Jacob, Jojo’s Dad

Summer Is Coming! Keep Your Dogs Safe in the Heat

The hot summer months are approaching, especially here at Born Free Pet Shelter in Miami.  While Summer can be a lot of fun in the sun playing and swimming with your pup, the heat can also be dangerous.  We can help you keep your pets safe and cool this summer.

Dog Belly Rub

Never leave your dog in the car.

Not even for a second.  Not while you run inside to grab something real quick.  Not ever.  Even on a cool day, it can get hot really fast in a car, windows up or down.

When it’s 72 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 116 within an hour.  When it’s 80 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 100 in 10 minutes.  Rolling down the windows has been shown to have little to no effect on the temperature in the car.

Your pet can quickly suffer brain or organ damage within a couple of minutes in a hot car.

If you want to take your dog with you, make sure you go places where you can bring it inside.  If you come across a pet in a car that appears to be in distress, take action.  In Florida, it is legal to rescue a person or domestic animal that is in danger in a locked vehicle.  According to the bill,  it provides immunity from civil liability for damage to a motor vehicle related to the rescue of a person or domestic animal under circumstances.  Call 911 immediately after rescuing the child or animal and make sure to wait for first-responders to arrive.

Watch your dog during exercise for signs of distress

On hot summer days, try to keep outdoor exercise to the mornings and late afternoons.  Try not to be out during the hottest time of day.  If you are outside, ensure you have plenty of fresh water available and take moderate breaks.  Heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, unsteadiness, a staggering gait, vomiting, or a deep red or purple tongue are all signs of heat stress.

If your dog shows any of these signs, be sure to gradually lower his body temperature with cool (not cold) water.  Try soaking him in a bath or pool.  At Born Free Pet Shelter, we have a kiddie pool for all of our dogs that they love to sit in on hot days.  Check out Mickey below relaxing in his pool!  If you do not have a pool or bath available, take a wet washcloth or paper towel and wet the ear flaps and paws.

Make sure to offer your dog fresh water but do not force them to drink.  If your dog shows these signs of heat stress, you should take them to the vet after you can cool them down.

 mickey in pool

Don’t let your pooch get burnt

When walking, watch out for hot surfaces.  Try to stay off hot surfaces in the middle of the day.  Test it first with your hand, if it’s too hot for your hand, then it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.  Hot surfaces like asphalt can burn your dog’s paws, try walking on the grass.  You can also look into booties for your dog in the summer but be careful that they aren’t wearing those for too long on hot days.

Dogs can burn in the sun just like you and me.  Watch out for the sun, especially for white, light-colored and thin coat dogs.  Sunburn will cause pain, itchiness and other problems for your dog.   Use waterproof baby sunscreen on days in the sun on your dog’s ears and nose.

Dog at beach

Hopefully these summer tips will help you and your dog have a great summer!  While these are good general tips, just make sure to use common sense with your dog.  No one knows your dog better than you.  Don’t be afraid to let your dog enjoy summer and run in the sun, just use precaution and everything in moderation.

Let us know what your favorite thing to do in the summer is with your dog!



April is Heartworm Awareness Month!

April is Heartworm Awareness Month! Your pet needs to be tested regularly for heartworm and needs monthly prevention medicine. Polo is our heartworm fighter and was heartworm positive when he arrived at the shelter. He finished his treatment and is waiting for the results. Like Polo, all of our dogs are given monthly heartworm prevention medicine. With your support, we can save the lives of great dogs like Polo and prevent heartworm. Join us this month in creating awareness for heartworm.