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Humane Society for Southwest Washington: Grant Report

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

The money was used to purchase Adaptil collars, which contain a pheromone that has been proven to help dogs cope with stressful situations. We have applied these collars to dogs who are nervous or shy upon intake into the shelter, to help them adjust. In conjunction with the collars, we are using positive reinforcement to encourage positive behaviors and make the shelter stay a more positive experience for these dogs.

The grant has helped us improve the quality of life of some of our most behaviorally challenged dogs, and we also feel that it has helped some dogs get adopted more quickly than they would have otherwise. In particular, we think that the collars helped some longtime residents get adopted – we had one dog who arrived in November 2015 and five dogs who arrived in April 2016. They all received collars in June, and also received behavior modification and positive reinforcement along with the collars, and all went on to get adopted in July or August. The staff feel that the collars helped these dogs come out of their shells and helped them get to their adoptive homes more quickly than they would have without the collars.

How many pets did this grant help?

25 dogs (and more to come!)

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

Gemma (first and second photos) arrived at our shelter in April from California with two puppies she was nursing. She went to foster care with an experienced staff member, who reported that Gemma was very fearful and reluctant to have any human interaction. With an Adaptil collar, positive reinforcement, and a lot of patience, Gemma came out of her shell and began interacting more with her foster family. Gemma was adopted on Aug. 5, and the adoptive family was sent home with a collar and a coupon to purchase another one.

Rocco (third photo) had come from a life on the road. A freewheeling dog, his home was the streets, where he had lived with his best friend, a transient man. The indoors, and confinement, were completely alien to him. This made it all the more tragic when he ended up at the Humane Society. He leapt over kennels, so he was put into capped kennels. He used his amazing boxer strength to grab the tops of kennels and perform pull-ups where he would force bolts loose and once again break free. Finally he was housed in a quarantine room where the caps on the top where welded to the kennels —and it was also quiet, so Rocco gave up on trying to escape and he settled down. The self-inflicted wounds on his face healed and he became accustomed to seeing no one but the people who fed him; he relaxed and enjoyed his new life, such as it was.

Weeks went by, and although Rocco was advertised as being available on the Humane Society’s webpage, few people came to see him. The staff grew more and more concerned about this and so they put him on the general adoption floor. At this point all of that initial anxiety came flooding over Rocco again: Confinement. New handlers. All the people. It was too much for Rocco, and he began with the escape attempts again.

At this point, the staff knew that something had to be done if Rocco were to be able to stay in the publicly accessible area. Rather than suggest medication for Rocco, the staff first applied an Adaptil collar. They waited and watched and, as the hours went by, Rocco stopped jumping. Then he stopped stress panting. Then he slept calmly on his bed. Then he asked for attention with a nubby tail wag. Rocco, in short, was a new man. He is still doing wonderfully, and is still available for adoption at the Humane Society for Southwest Washington.