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Lollypop Farm, the Humane Society of Greater Rochester: Orvis Dog Enrichment Grant Report

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

Lollypop Farm dedicated the generous Orvis/Petfinder Foundation operational support grant to our behavior-modification program that has helped us modify problem behavior in dogs to the point that they are candidates for successful adoption.

In a typical year, more than 11,000 animals are admitted to the Lollypop Farm shelter; nearly two-thirds are placed in new homes, but sadly, too many must be euthanized for lack of shelter space and homes to adopt them. New strays and discarded family companions arrive continuously, yet there is not nearly enough space for them all, so their stay must be short as they await an uncertain fate. Too many of the animals who make their way to Lollypop Farm are hard to place, not only because of the numbers received, but also due to problem behavior. All too often, they are seized due to cruelty or neglect, or are surrendered by their owners due to behavioral problems and a lack of understanding surrounding their innate animal behavior. The shelter environment adds to their stress and confusion.

Stress can also weaken an animal’s immune system and make him more susceptible to contagious disease. This not only puts pets at greater risk of euthanasia, it also adds expense for the shelter in that sick animals must be confined and/or medicated. Prolonged confinement can cause further stress, loss of appetite, diminished motivation and/or depression. Desperate for attention, shelter dogs will often bounce, bark and throw themselves at the door of their kennel whenever a human comes near. Prospective owners bypass these dogs as too excitable or too difficult to handle. “A dog has less than three seconds to make an impact on someone,” states Gillian Hargrave, Lollypop Farm’s Vice President. “Some of these dogs are really nice dogs but they are so stressed they can’t really function properly anymore and can’t present themselves well to prospective adopters.”

The Behavior & Enrichment Program was developed to find a forever home for every pet. This effort has demonstrated its effectiveness in changing the behavior of its problem dogs to the point that remarkable percentages have been successfully adopted.

How many pets did this grant help?

Last year we worked with 132 dogs in this program and 94% were successfully placed.

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

Finn is a happy, bouncy shepherd mix puppy. He was surrendered to the shelter after being abandoned in someone’s front yard. During his initial behavior evaluation, he displayed moderate to severe generalized resource guarding. Our behavior and training instructor, Alyssa Boyea, took him into foster care to help teach him that it is okay to share his food and other valuable items with people. He is a little canine genius and flew through the program with ease. He has been adopted to a young couple and he is their first dog. Finn and his new family were eager to attend training classes to continue to hone his skills. Each week they come into class with new questions about how to make sure Finn is on the right track. They also have a few really cute stories to tell us about what adventures they have had with him and each week they tell us what a joy he is and how they can’t imagine their lives without him!

Dixie is a spunky, exuberant Australian cattle dog mix. She is another of our “naughty puppies.” She was brought into the shelter because her previous owner decided that having a puppy was too much responsibility. During her behavior evaluation, she displayed food-bowl guarding. One of our behavior staff took her into foster care to help teach her that is okay to share her things, and boy did she learn fast! Within a few weeks, Dixie realized that sharing her things was a pretty cool idea. Dixie has since been adopted and is currently living with a very active family of four (two adults and two children) and she also has a new doggy playmate! Dixie is doing wonderfully with her new family; they have been working really hard at continuing her training and are starting classes at Lollypop Farm soon.

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