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Clermont Animal CARE Humane Society: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

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

This grant was used to cover tuition for our Director of Lifesaving Programs, Meaghan Colville, to attend the DPFL Mentorship Program at Longmont Humane Society in May of 2019.

Participating in the DPFL Mentorship Program helped reinforce the notion that Clermont Animal CARE is a progressive shelter committed to implementing best-practice lifesaving programs to enrich the lives of the animals in our care. The addition of the DPFL playgroup program added an important level of enrichment for dogs at the shelter, while simultaneously offering an exciting new, rewarding and advanced-level opportunity for volunteers to engage with the shelter and our animals.

The benefit to our dogs has been immeasurable. Affording them the opportunity to engage in natural dog behavior, learn appropriate dog-to-dog interactions, burn energy and get consistent out-of-cage time has increased the quality of life in the shelter and allowed staff, volunteers and adopters to better know each dog as an individual.

Our commitment to best practices, shelter enrichment, and continuous improvement continues to elevate our status as a regional leader, which helps as we seek other opportunities of funding support, ultimately benefiting the pets in our care.

How many pets did this grant help?

Approximately 75 dogs at our shelter, to date, have been helped by this Petfinder Foundation grant. Additionally, to help launch programs at two large municipal shelters in surrounding counties, we recently trained their staff and volunteers, offering guidance on basic playgroup techniques learned in the class. Given how short-staffed we’ve been, a big challenge for us has been getting the program up and running following Meaghan’s trip to Longmont. We’ve recently hired a Dog Program Manager, however (whom we are hoping to send to a future training!), and have been able to increase our frequency. We also just hired a Volunteer Manager in the past week, so this will help us pull together, train, monitor and manage a dedicated group of volunteers to assist with this enrichment program. Our total dog intake since Meaghan attended training is approximately 400 dogs, and 75 dogs represents about ⅕ of our dog intake during the period June through today. About half of those dogs weren’t eligible for playgroups as they were either on stray hold or another hold (such as medical, behavioral or animal control), were in boarding, or were transferred, adopted or returned-to-owner during their first week, prior to being considered a playgroup candidate. Of our eligible dogs, about half participated in playgroups, some more frequently than others. Participation in the hands-on session most definitely helped propel our program forward and although not as regularly as we would like, we are eagerly anticipating increasing the numbers of dogs benefitting from playgroups. The addition of the Volunteer Manager and Dog Program Manager on staff allows us to begin some focused training and mentorship programs for playgroup volunteers, which will accelerate our implementation and rollout of a more consistent program.

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

Loki (first photo) was surrendered to us as a dog with a bite history. He bit a repair man in his home where he lived with another small dog. We were told that he was difficult, resource-guarded around people, and didn’t get along with big dogs. When Loki was presented as a candidate for playgroups, staff and volunteers were hesitant and initially declined to let him participate, feeling it was too risky. What if he didn’t like the other dogs, as his owner had said? What if he redirected onto a person if they had to break up a fight? Loki was a tough sell until Meaghan encouraged staff to give him a try.

Getting into playgroups is the best thing that ever happened to Loki! He showed us that he enjoys being around other dogs and does great with people. Through playgroups, we’ve been able to get to know his true personality. He is still awaiting a forever home. You can find Loki’s Petfinder profile here.

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