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Bitter Root Humane Association: KONG Toys Grant Report

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

We were thrilled to receive the Petfinder Foundation's KONG grant! KONG toys are critical for our enrichment program due to their indestructible nature. During our long winter in Western Montana, the KONG toys relieve boredom and pent-up tension by providing hours of activity for our shelter dogs. Although we walk our shelter dogs outside three times a day, often it is too cold for them to get much exercise, and KONG toys allow for a release of energy through chewing. To make the KONG toys extra fun and exciting for the dogs, we fill them with dog biscuits, pureed squash or chicken broth and freeze! As the dogs chew the KONG toy, they also are rewarded by a tasty treat.

The Petfinder Foundation's KONG toy grant helped our shelter because we had quite a few dogs at our shelter this winter. We had to continuously stuff, freeze and distribute KONG toys to keep our shelter-dog guests from getting bored. Luckily, we had plenty of KONG toys in different shapes and sizes, so we never ran out. These KONG toys provided stress relief as well as a fun activity to counteract boredom. You can literally watch the tension slowly release from their bodies as their focus and energy is turned to the KONG toy instead of a destructive or unproductive behavior. We have noticed a decrease in spinning, barking and jumping (a few unproductive kennel behaviors), and a quieter, more peaceful kennel environment.

We are also finding that KONG toys are not just for the typical chewers or ball-players, but also for the bully-breed dogs who tend to destroy typical toys in their kennels through shaking and tearing. Our stuffed-KONG kennel-enrichment program helps to keep the dogs occupied and relaxed. The variety of the KONG toy donation ensures different experiences for different dogs, but it is confirmed that KONG toys, stuffed and frozen, provide hours of entertainment, as well as a physical release of pent-up energy and stress.

How many pets did this grant help?

We have an average intake of 20 dogs per month, so we would estimate that at least 60 dogs were able to enjoy the KONG toys!

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

Happy is a sweet Staffordshire terrier/pit-bull mix who came to our shelter in mid-February scared and distressed. As he adjusted to shelter life, we realized he really enjoyed people and playing! Happy was still a puppy and very energetic. In the middle of winter in Western Montana, we have a quite a few cold days, including many below zero degrees. We have to constantly be aware of how cold it is outside and monitor and minimize our shelter dogs’ exposure to the cold weather. Although we walk our dogs three times a day, time outside for exercise is limited, especially for short-haired dogs like Happy. Pups with lots of energy (like Happy) need more exercise, not less! The cold weather and dark, boring days made Happy (and the other shelter dogs) restless, nervous and tense. Happy would sometimes circle his kennel endlessly and whine, which did not go over well with potential adopters! However, when we started giving Happy the stuffed KONG toys each day, you could tell some of his energy, anxiety and boredom were relieved. In just a few weeks, Happy seemed more content to just relax on his bed and chew energetically at his KONG. Thank you! Meet Happy:

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