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Helping Hands Humane Society: Play Yard Renovation Grant Report

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

Before this project, when we introduced dogs into playgroups, they had to go down a long alleyway to enter the play yard. This caused the newcomer dogs anxiety and discomfort because they could get trapped by other dogs in the alley. It was also a safety risk for volunteer handlers – they could get caught in that same alleyway and have difficulty getting dogs in and out.

Earlier in 2023, we had an incident where an exuberant dog was able to pull a volunteer handler to the ground in the play yard. By adding three additional gates to the play yard, we were able to bridge the smaller play yards with access points into the main yard. This allows safe access for humans to be able to intervene as needed when a dog or fellow handler needs help and allows a more seamless entry for dogs into playgroup so they don’t need to enter via the long alley and don’t have a risk of getting trapped.

Within just a week of this project being completed, volunteers report that they are using the gates regularly and it’s made a big difference in the comfort and safety of the dogs who are entering and participating in playgroups.

How many pets did this grant help?


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

Lily is a 1-year-old female pit bull who was brought to the shelter after demonstrating dog-aggression in her home. Her owners were concerned that her play style was too rough for their resident dog and reported “she goes for the throat.”

Because HHHS had implemented a playgroup program in 2023 after a mentorship with Dogs Playing for Life, we were able to complete an assessment of Lily’s play style. She placed as a Level 3, meaning the “most sociable.” Her style is chase and be chased and she can adapt to a variety of play styles from other dogs.

What we learned is that, in her previous home, she was likely attempting to initiative play and the other dog was not understanding the cues or was considered a “gentle dainty.”

Without access to playgroups, we would not have known that Lily was so great with other dogs and would have been forced to take her experience in her previous home at face value.

The gates at HHHS, funded by the Petfinder Foundation, were completed on Oct. 27, 2023. Lily was able to safely and successfully spend the weekend in playgroups getting to know other dogs and burning off energy. The gates allowed a safe entry for her and a safe exit for dogs who may have been overwhelmed by her enthusiasm. She was adopted on Oct. 31, 2023, and we couldn’t be happier for her.

Thank you to the Petfinder Foundation for improving the safety and comfort of our dogs, who rely on the play groups to truly save their lives!

Further Reading