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Beaver County Humane Society: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

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

The money awarded from the Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship grant was used to send our Animal Enrichment Manager to attend the Level 1 Mentorship in Longmont, Colorado.

The Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship grant helped our organization by providing hands-on training to the manager of our enrichment department. This training expanded her understanding of the tools and methods of the Dog Playing for Life program.

Since returning from training, our Animal Enrichment Manager has been able to provide training to existing and new staff members on how to conduct playgroups with dogs. Consistent playgroups help to enrich the lives of our dogs by providing same-species engagement and time out of their kennels. They also help the staff to know each dog better in yet another environment so as to be better able to tell the dogs' stories on our website as well as match them better with adoptive families.

How many pets did this grant help?

We estimate that the Dogs Playing for Life playgroup program at Beaver County Humane Society has helped 82 dogs since our Animal Enrichment Manager returned from training in July, but it will help countless other pets who come into the shelter in the future as our enrichment team puts into action what they have learned.

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

Aqua (first photo) was a bully-breed dog who arrived at the shelter as a stray on Aug. 24, 2021. We estimated that she was about 3 years old. She was very nervous, but friendly to people. In her kennel, she would shake and vocalize. She tried to dart out the door when her kennel was open and resisted being returned. She was not placated by kennel enrichment items, games, or even people, on occasion.

We were finally able to let her participate in playgroups on her third day at the shelter, and staff met a completely different dog! She came into the yard, took a big lap around, and encouraged all the other dogs to join her. Once she knew playtime would be a normal part of her routine, she was much more willing to engage with staff and rest in her kennel after being able to expend her energy outside.

Playing chase was her favorite game! She would run countless laps around the yard. She liked it best when the other dogs would join in, but she never changed her pace; it was more like a lope than an actual run.

Aqua was adopted on Sept. 26, 2021. A family brought their dog to meet another dog at our shelter, but that dog was not the right fit. Because of Aqua’s time in playgroup, staff knew that she would be a great play match for the family’s dog. The family agreed to meet Aqua at our suggestion. Once we brought her out, she turned on the charm and got the family’s dog to play chase. After spending some more time getting to know Aqua, the family decided that they would take her home that day!

Violet (second photo) was a 2-year-old bully-breed dog who had been transferred to our shelter from another facility on July 15, 2021, where she was described as being reactive with other dogs and not dog-friendly. We included her in playgroups as part of our behavior evaluation. Violet was defensive during her first couple of playgroups but was willing to coexist. Several playgroups later, she started to engage in play with the other dogs.

She was adopted by a family who met her with their dog at an offsite adoption event in late July. We explained the behaviors that were reported to us and what we had observed at our shelter. The family felt comfortable with what they saw during the meet-and-greet and took Violet home.

Two days later, Violet was returned to us because once in the home, she became confrontational with the other dogs. Once Violet was back with us, she resumed participation in playgroups until she was adopted again on Sept. 2, 2021. Even though we knew that we would recommend that Violet be the only dog in the household, we continued to use playgroup as an enrichment tool for her during her time with us, because it provided the most benefit and socialization to her.

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