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Heartland Animal Shelter: Orvis Dog Enrichment Grant Report

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

The funds from this grant were used to develop a structured playgroup training program. Using the knowledge obtained at our Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship program and the funds from the Orvis Animal Care grant, we were able to develop a binder of playgroup processes and procedures, create a playgroup tracking system, start a comprehensive training program and get our staff members and volunteers trained to run playgroups for all of the dogs in our care!

This grant allowed us the opportunity to develop a training program so that we could teach as many staff and volunteers as possible how to safely and effectively run playgroups. Because of this, all of our dogs are now able to participate in playgroups and we have found this to make them much happier, less stressed and better socialized. Potential adopters also really enjoy seeing our dogs having a great time with other dogs while in playgroups and this has made many of them much more adoptable!

How many pets did this grant help?


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

Zilda is a young German shepherd who had been returned to the shelter twice in less than four months. Because she had major on-leash dog reactivity and was also one of our biggest, strongest, and most energetic dogs, this posed a challenge all winter when we were walking her on the ice and with other dogs all around.

Our dog-program manager was able to use the resources from this grant to safely match Zilda with another dog, Jordie (second photo), who was also experiencing behavior issues. This match was the best we have ever seen! For months, they were able to play together daily and became the best of friends despite still not wanting to be around any other dogs. Zilda has now been adopted and there is now a silly, heart-shaped “Zilda + Jordie 4-Eva” sign hanging in the kennel to remember their friendship that developed because of our playgroup program! Jordie is still waiting for his forever home; you can meet him here.

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