The Orvis grant was used to provide enrichment and stress-relief items for our shelter animals. We were able to provide enrichment items such as Kong treat toys and Nylabone chew rings, as well as stress- and anxiety-relief products such as Thundershirts, Feliway cat calming pheromones, and Adaptil calming diffusers for our adoption and stray-dog areas.
Many of the animals that enter our shelter are under a tremendous amount of stress, especially those animals who are here for extended periods of time. Boredom also becomes an overwhelming stressor for many of the animals in our care. By combining pet enrichment with stress-reducing products, we were able to provide items to our cat and dog areas to help reduce their boredom and stress levels. Some of greatest successes were in our cat rooms and puppy rooms. Our cat rooms were provided with a Feliway diffuser, which provided calming cat pheromones in each room. The result, observed over a period of a month, showing a vast majority of cats in our care were much more relaxed, easier to handle and were much more comfortable. This helped in increasing our cat adoption rates over the last two months due to patrons being able to handle and interact with our adoptable cats more easily.
One challenge we had faced in the past was reducing stress for our small dogs and puppies that entered our shelter. In most instances, our smaller dogs and puppies were delayed in being able to be moved up for adoption due to their heightened stress level and requiring a longer isolation period to become adjusted to the shelter environment. Upon deploying two items, an Adaptil diffuser providing calming pheromones and a Smart Love behavioral toy, we saw great progress with our smaller dogs and puppies, especially our puppies.
The Smart Love toy is a small stuffed dog that emits a constant heartbeat and heat to mimic another living creature. See our success story below! We were also able to provide various sizes of Thundershirt anti-anxiety vests for our animals that display a higher than normal stress level while here at the shelter.
Delvina is a chocolate Labrador puppy who entered our shelter and displayed higher than normal stress and anxiety. Delvina was difficult to handle, would constantly tremble, and became aggressive around other dogs. Delvina did not interact and would stay to the back of her kennel each day during morning cleaning. Staff had attempted several different techniques, some with slight success, but Delvina was still very timid and scared in her kennel.
Staff then requested to try the Smart Pet Love Behavior Aid toy and equipped the toy with a heating pack and activated the internal heartbeat. Upon providing this item to Delvina and rechecking her status later in the afternoon, staff were pleasantly surprised to see Delvina interacting with the toy and later had fallen asleep on top of it.
After a couple of days, staff noted a tremendous improvement in Delvina’s demeanor: She became easier to handle, and after several days, displayed no aggression towards other dogs. We were able to move her up to adoption after four days of this treatment, although she retained her plush toy, and she became a smash hit with the shelter and our patrons! You can meet her here.