Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant

Norfolk Animal Care Center: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

For a staff member to attend Dogs Playing for Life training in Austin, TX.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

Provided a knowledge and skill foundation for implementing dog playgroups as part of daily care and enrichment.

How many pets did this grant help?

150

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Champ, a beefy American bulldog mix, was not adapting well to life in the shelter. His barrier reactivity intimidated customers and he pulled violently on-leash. After a near redirect-bite to a volunteer, he was restricted as a “staff-only” dog and removed from the adoption floor. Using the DPFL platform, we began auditioning Champ with a smaller groups of known dogs. Champ was noticeably tense when meeting new dogs, but remained respectful of their space and seemed to know how to de-escalate rising tensions from other dogs. After only his second group session, Champ showed no reactivity to other kenneled dogs as he was walked back to his run with a completely loose leash. Champ never played with other dogs, but the time he spent freely navigating space among other dogs seemed to be the cure for his kennel frustration. Once we saw this, Champ was moved back to the adoption floor with a much-improved kennel presence and was adopted within 10 days.

South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

This was used to send one of our staff members to a Dogs Playing for Life mentorship session.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

It has helped tremendously. It has helped our staff member gain more knowledge and more self esteem. She has done such a great job keeping the dogs in our care socialized and learning more about their behavior, which obviously makes them more adoptable.

How many pets did this grant help?

200+ since November

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Jeanie (first photo, with a friend) came in as a stray, beyond broken and scared. She would shake and cower in her cage, afraid of everyone. Karla got her out into playgroup and she just blossomed. Watching her play and enjoy the company of the other dogs made us all very happy. She was just adopted this weekend and now has a wonderful family — and a doggie companion — who love her.

Orphans of the Storm: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The money was used for Carrie Johnson, our Enrichment Coordinator, to attend a Dogs Playing For Life mentorship session.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

Carrie was able to learn valuable skills on how to successfully run playgroups. She was able to bring these skills and information to the other dog handlers at Orphans of the Storm. Together, they can reach and help many dogs.

How many pets did this grant help?

2000

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Jupiter arrived at Orphans of the Storm with very few doggy social skills. He would come into playgroup and start fights with the other dogs. Carrie went to her mentorship in Austin and returned to OOTS with a new perspective. Using what she learned, she helped socialize Jupiter with other dogs. Jupiter participates in playgroup every day now and is much more adoptable. He is still up for adoption at Orphans of the Storm.

From his Petfinder profile: “Jupiter is a super-playful pup who loves toys. The first thing he did on a recent trip to the off-leash run was to pick up a stuffed duck toy and proudly carry it around the run. Jupiter later alternated between carrying the duck and a stuffed octopus. He’s happy to chase after toys if you throw them, but prefers holding them to bringing them back for more fetching. Jupiter can pull a bit on the leash when he first comes out of his kennel, but as soon as he gets going he settles down into a nice walking companion. He likes to sniff and explore, but doesn’t stray too far from your side. He is also happy to take the occasional break for pets and snuggles. Jupiter is ready to join a fun-loving home that will have fun loving him.” Meet Jupiter here.

Lee County Humane Society: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The grant money was used for a DPFL Mentorship seminar in Austin, TX, at Austin Pets Alive!

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

This grant helped our organization because I was able to bring back the knowledge I gained and share it with the rest of the staff members at our facility. Since attending the DPFL mentorship, we have been able to get some of our testier dogs back into playgroups and have also began implementing kennel routines with all the dogs here at our shelter.

How many pets did this grant help?

300

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

One specific dog whom this grant has helped would be Teddy. Teddy was surrendered to our shelter in October 2019 and, due to his being unsocialized and having some dog aggression, he was a harder-to-adopt dog. With the knowledge I gained at the mentorship, we were able to get Teddy back into playgroups with a muzzle and help him gain some socialization, and we were able to learn more about his personality. The result of this was that Teddy was able to go to a rescue partner up North and is now not at risk of being euthanized!

Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The resources provided by the Petfinder Foundation to the Palm Springs Animal Shelter covered the costs for a member of our behavior team to attend a DPFL mentorship program at Austin Pets Alive! in Austin, Texas.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

This grant enabled one of our behavior-team members to become more proficient in organizing and staffing dog playgroups at our shelter. She has not only been able to re-establish small (for now) playgroups, she has also begun to build a volunteer team to help run playgroups, as well as train staff to do the same. She is currently working on more enhanced kennel routines for dogs and helping staff and volunteers to increase their skills in this area. We are truly grateful!

How many pets did this grant help?

Our January adoptions increased by more than 100 percent, for a total of 63 dogs. I’m comfortable assuming that at least 25 percent of these dogs – nearly 16 dogs – were rendered more adoptable due to playgroup activities.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

The following dogs have been trained specifically by Vanessa Marin, who attended the Dogs Playing for Life mentorship program at Austin Pets Alive! in Austin, Texas. She has seen a significant reduction in stress in all of them, and several have gone on to forever homes. Many had been returned due to issues in the home and are currently with pet owners who are committed.
Duncan – high-energy, returned multiple times
Timon – high-energy, 441 days at the shelter
Cinnamon – good with humans, dog-reactive
Ripley – high-energy, ADOPTED after two returns
Paige – slow to bond with humans, reactive with other dogs, ADOPTED after one return
Anton – high-energy, good with other dogs, difficult for some humans to physically manage, ADOPTED after three returns

Heartland Animal Shelter: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The grant funds were used to send me (Heartland Animal Shelter’s shelter and dog program manager) to the Dogs Playing for Life mentorship program at Austin Pets Alive! in Austin, Texas.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

The grant allowed me to get formal, immersive training in running playgroups. Rather than rely on trial and error and my own experiences, I benefited from a master class of seasoned professionals. The two leads for the DPFL program were so knowledgeable and helpful and gave me the confidence to handle introducing new dogs to each other rather than relying on the same helper dogs or pairs of friends and potentially burning those dogs out. The grant has allowed me to expand the playgroups I conduct to include every single big dog in our care; they all have at least one friend. Since my mentorship program, I have also trained a number of volunteers to run these groups on their shifts, and a formal training and documenting process will be put in to place in the coming month!

How many pets did this grant help?

The grant helped and helps all of the dogs in our care on site. We have about 20 big dogs at any given time, and all of them have been able to have at least one friend and are socialized to other dogs at least once a day now.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

When I returned from the training in November, I was determined to get our longest-term dog, Blade (first photo), into a playgroup. For his entire tenure at the shelter, he had never interacted with another dog because we believed him to be too reactive. During the training, I could not stop thinking about how wrong that was, but I knew I had to introduce him to just the right kind of dog. Because of the DPFL training, I was able to identify the perfect “helper” dog for Blade. The week I returned, I had a friend from another shelter who had also gone through DPFL training come in and help me. The experience was magical: Blade’s tail was wagging and, despite his age (12), he was prancing like a young pup! After Blade had played for 10 minutes with the first helper dog, I brought in another. Seeing Blade play with not one but two dogs, after such a long period of social isolation, was wonderful to behold.

York County Animal Shelter: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

This grant was used to send a staff member to the Dogs Playing for Life mentorship.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

Brittney Muto attended this training and has put it into action in our shelter in variety of ways, the first being that she has used what she learned to provide assessment and socialization for dogs that we received and house as part of a dog-fighting case. Second, she has used it for intensive one-on-one training for dogs in our care that are non-social, displaying behaviors of concern, or are deteriorating in a kennel environment. Third, she used this training to create an in-kennel enrichment program for all dogs in our facility. Additionally, she is teaching a training to our volunteer staff on leash-walking skills.

How many pets did this grant help?

Brittney has used this training to work with 20 dogs from a fighting case. In addition, she has worked with six “challenging-behavior” cases since attending the training. She has also used what she learned regarding kennel enrichment training to begin a kennel program and leash training for volunteers, which has benefited all 265 dogs who have passed through our shelter in the last three months.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Corky came in marked as dog-aggressive by staff for his kennel reactions; walking him past kennels, he would attack every cage he could. I assessed him in playgroups and quickly realized he wasn’t dog-aggressive at all. I started by walking him on a loose leash through kennels and squirting him with a water bottle when he would try to run up on a cage and treating him when he would come back to me or look at me. He was also horrible about busting through doors, so I worked with him on sitting and waiting to be “freed” to walk through. When Corky left for rescue, I could successfully walk through the whole shelter and he constantly made eye contact with me, not even paying attention to any dogs, and patiently waiting to walk through doorways.

Wenatchee Valley Humane Society: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The money from this grant was used to send our Animal Behavior Manager to the Mentorship II in October at the National Canine Center in Wellborn, FL.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

Our biggest challenge is behaviorally challenged dogs. We have more of them than helper dogs, and getting a good mix of dogs for a stable playgroup can be challenging. We try to keep things safe and stable, while at the same time we want to make sure those behaviorally challenged dogs also are getting the socialization and training they need.

Karen attended the course specifically dedicated to this issue to help with the challenges our team faces when working in playgroups with these dogs. Our goal is to see a reduction in playgroup issues for these dogs and ultimately reduce their length of stay.

How many pets did this grant help?

To date, since this training, we have be able to serve 165 dogs with this program.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Jasper came to us a shy, fearful dog. He would not play and he was fearful of other dogs, relatively hesitant of all strangers, and was a flight risk, so he had to always be on-leash. With the skills learned at the DPFL mentorship training, Karen was able to work with Jasper to ensure that he felt safe and slowly introduce him to other dogs without an accidental encounter on the property before he was ready.

Because of the work that this team did with him, he was able to be adopted and is now visiting dog parks, playing with toys, and holding play dates!

Humane Society of Southeast Missouri: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

We sent a staff member to the Dogs Playing for Life mentorship program

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

Our understanding of and ability to help dogs with behavioral issues have both been greatly improved.

How many pets did this grant help?

We have taken in more than 1,600 dogs in the past year, and the program and the knowledge it has provided will go on to help more dogs year after year.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Slick (first photo) is a dog who specifically was helped by the mentorship program. He was a male pit mix and we were able to work with him so that he got along better with other animals and develop his friendship skills with other animals. He did go on to be a adopted to a lovely family.

Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

DPFL Mentorship for Behavior and Enrichment Coordinator Stephanie Moore.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

This grant allowed us to send our new Behavior and Enrichment Coordinator to Colorado for formal Dogs Playing For Life training. We had received some training from representatives of DPFL in the past; however, those employees who received the previous training had only experienced abbreviated training here on site and many were no longer employed by us. By having Ms. Moore go to this training, our knowledge has been refreshed and she has been able to pass that knowledge and training on to current staff. Our large, “square-headed” dogs have benefited greatly and our live-release rate for dogs has been holding steady at 92-94%. Adopters and rescues appreciate greatly that the dogs that they take from us have shown good dog skills, or that those skills in which they are lacking have been identified. We also have a Facebook playgroup page that is closely followed by rescues and members of the public, which helps those potential adopters make a decision about adopting dogs from us.

How many pets did this grant help?

Our dog adoptions since October 1, 2019: 531 dogs

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Bud came to us as stray in mid October, 2019. He had been a frequent stray visitor to the complainant’s backyard and was causing some damage. The complainant was not able to catch and confine him, so an animal control officer was dispatched. The officer was able to catch him and bring him in. Upon intake, it was discovered that Bud had some large wounds that required surgical repair.

After wound repair, Bud spent about two weeks being monitored for pain and proper healing. During this time, while he was on “bed-rest,” it was unknown whether he was friendly to other animals. When he was cleared for increased activity, he was introduced to playgroups. It was noted that he was somewhat shy and fearful of noises and that he was not leash-trained. Given time to meet and observe other dogs, he warmed up to the other dogs in low-energy groups and showed that he was a sweet, friendly boy with a love of cuddling.

In November 2019, Bud was successfully adopted by a woman who had six cats and one dog at home.