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Great Plains SPCA: Play Yard Renovation Grant Report

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

Great Plains SPCA has experienced an increase in intakes of animals throughout the course of 2022. This means we have had a larger number of animals experiencing fear, anxiety, and stress while in the shelter.

These play-yard renovations have helped decrease these behaviors while the dogs are able to get out into daily playgroups. With the help of this grant, we have been able to provide shade and larger playgroups for the dogs.

We have purchased and put to use three sunshades to cover our three largest yards. In addition to the sunshades, we have installed a gate between our two largest yards to create more space for multiple dogs to play freely. It has positively impacted multiple dogs' mental health as well as social skills during their stays in the shelter.

Lastly, we installed an additional gate to facilitate safer transfers in and out of yards while they are used for large play groups. These renovations have helped decrease overall stress and anxiety in Great Plains SPCA’s shelter pets and an increase in social skills and reactivity to other animals.

How many pets did this grant help?


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

Bender (first photo) is an 8-month-old American bulldog who arrived at Great Plains SPCA extremely shy and fearful.

Our play-yard renovations created an opportunity for dogs like Bender to experience the benefits of a larger play yard. We have been able to make more-accurate assessments on how the time in the yard and in playgroups is impacting his social skills. We can clearly see how they have led Bender to come out of his shell to interact with other dogs.

Bender was adopted and returned for his shy behaviors, but playgroups have increased his freedom and ultimately reduced stress to support his mental health. These playgroups have lowered Bender’s isolation and stress in the kennel. When Bender participates in a playgroup in a large, open yard, we see his friendly interactions with other dogs and calmer behaviors once he returns to his kennel.

Bender has not been back at the shelter long since his return, but we are already seeing so many improvements thanks to the play yards. This has provided us with valuable information that we can pass along to his next adopters to help them better understand Bender’s behaviors and how to manage them.

With the help of the Petfinder Foundation, we are able to provide a higher quality of life for pets like Bender. You can meet Bender here.

Further Reading