Independence Animal Services: Orvis Animal Care Grant

What was the money or product used for?

The money was used for many items to help enrich the lives of our dogs as they wait to be adopted. We purchased several dog puzzle-treat toys, dental chew toys, bones for aggressive chewers, Hyper Pet IQ Treat Mats, interactive KONG toys, snuffle mats, agility tunnels, mega play balls, flirt poles, and several muffin pans for a treat-seeking game that we love to play.

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

One of the most important things that we had to keep alive during this pandemic was the dogs’ mental and emotional well-being. We have been closed to the public since March 2020, and we have not been able to allow volunteers in since then. The volunteers were so important for keeping our dogs active; they would come to walk the dogs and provide them with exciting enrichment. Without the volunteers, it has been difficult to make sure that every dog had enrichment and daily stimuli.

This grant has provided amazing opportunities to enhance the daily lives of the dogs. The agility tunnels, mega play balls, and flirt poles make for incredible exercise and training opportunities. The snuffle mat, puzzle treat toys, and lick mats force the dogs to use their brains. The muffin pans are filled with treats and then covered with tennis balls, so that the dogs must search for a tasty surprise. The chew toys keep the dogs focused on one activity and prevent them from getting restless in their kennels.

These activities are so critical for the dogs to prevent the onset of depression that can so easily arise from sitting in a shelter day after day. This has been such a wonderful opportunity.

How many pets did this grant help?

At least 15 dogs so far, but many more will be helped in the future!

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

Zircon was a dog who was surrendered to us by his owner. Due to job changes, the owner had to leave Zircon in the care of someone else, and this person did not properly care for him. Zircon is an Anatolian shepherd. Though he should weigh well over 100 lbs., he was only about 75 lbs. when he arrived.

He was very shy and nervous when he arrived, and it took him quite a while to warm up to anyone. It was difficult to imagine making him available for adoption in that state. However, we dedicated a lot of time to providing exciting enrichment for Zircon on a daily basis. Puzzle feeders and toys were used to make him excited about eating.

It took a bit of work, but Zircon began to come out of his shell! He would “talk” to people by making “boof” sounds and wooing sounds. He seemed excited to be alive!

As of last week, Zircon is in a really promising foster-to-adopt situation with a loving family. I do not believe this would have been possible without daily enrichment activities that improved Zircon’s well-being tremendously.

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