BURLINGTON, N.C. -- Officials with Burlington Animal Services have joined the nationwide Pokemon Go craze, where players use their phones to capture, battle and train Pokemon.
The game has inspired animal shelter director Jess Arias to try something new to get more animals adopted.
"What better way to find Pokemon then when you've got a Pokemon-sniffing adoptable dog by your side?" Arias said.
Inspired by the game which causes its players to move around to different locations, the shelter is expanding their dog walking program.
"Check out adoptable dogs for a few hours, to take them either for their quest for Pokemon around town or if they just want to go for a walk for a couple of hours," Arias said.
If you're 18 and have a photo ID, you can check out a dog for the day or for a few hours.
"Take them downtown or to the city park, wherever the game takes them," said shelter program coordinator Laura Michel.
Although the program is aimed at Pokemon Go players, anyone can participate.
"Maybe they just want to walk a dog one weekend,” Arias said.
Arias says the goal is to get more exercise and exposure for the shelter's dogs.
Dogs checked out for the day will wear a yellow harness and leash with the words "adopt me" written across it.
"It's really critical that we're constantly inventing and being more and more creative to market adoptable pets," Arias said.
Arias says that’s important during the summer, when the shelter averages about 500 animals a month, compared to 100 or 200 in the winter.
“It's really taxing to our small shelter facility and program to accommodate that many animals,” Arias said.
The program only allows dogs to be walked during the hours that the shelter is open.
Dogs have to be returned 15 minutes before the shelter closes.