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Fox Valley Humane Association: Orvis Dog Enrichment Grant Report

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

The funds for this grant were used to help restart our enrichment program. The shelter had one a few years ago and we have worked hard to try and bring it back. The money was used for items in the shelter and for foster homes to help keep our animals happy and healthy while waiting to be adopted. We have seen the most success with our heartworm-positive dogs who have long stays with us. These dogs are given KONG toys and puzzles purchased with the grant to help keep them engaged and active without raising their heart rates.

In the shelter we have been able to purchase a large number of KONG toys that get filled by volunteers and staff daily/weekly, then get passed out to animals who have a hard time keeping calm in their kennels or are known for destroying all other toys. With this grant, we were also able to purchase radios for every cat room and kennel which play calming music made for animals on repeat.

This grant helped lower the number of animals we have in our care with stress, especially with our heartworm-positive dogs and those who are kept here for long periods of time due to medical needs or holds. Our organization was able to bring in toys and treats that work to keep the animals not only calm and distracted, but happy and constantly learning. The puzzles are slowly being brought into play by getting our volunteers more involved with our animals, giving them time to play together and get them out of the kennel for more than their typical walks or outside playtime. Our fosters saw an increase in playfulness and lower incidents of kennel stress or breaking out of designated areas while they were away from the house.

How many pets did this grant help?

So far we have helped 10 animals in foster and more than 100 in the shelter with the different methods of care.

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

Tyson (first and second photos) is a 1-year-old terrier/boxer/mastiff mix who was in the shelter for over a month (November) while starting his heartworm treatment. Tyson was not good in the kennel setting and was constantly spinning, pacing, and trying to break out of his kennel, hurting himself once in the process. The stress was hurting his treatment progress and his heart rate was constantly high. Staff tried for just under a month to find a foster to house him while he finished the last two months of his treatment. Tyson was not good in any confined space and could not be kenneled; he had severe separation anxiety, he was not good with cats, and he could be picky with his dog friends.

After spending all that time searching, we were unable to find a foster home that could take care of him and cater to his needs, so a staff member brought him home. Tyson had a hard time adjusting at first, but would come to work with the staff member every day. During the day, if Tyson was left alone in the office, he would begin to stress out and would break out of the office; he became known for opening doors and wandering into meeting rooms or education rooms down the hall in search of his foster. To help with this, each day Tyson was given a KONG toy filled with treats and frozen peanut butter and left in the office alone for 30 minutes to get him used to being separated.

Once he could handle that, he was placed into one of the kennels during the work day with a KONG toy and soothing music to get him used to being in a confined space; after two months of work, he was able to be in there safely for overnight visits when the staff member was out of town. In the home setting, they used the KONG toys and soothing music to get him used to being in a traditional kennel; unfortunately he was only able to last one hour in that type of kennel.

By the time Tyson was placed for adoption, he was finally able to be left alone in a room of a house gated off for about four hours! After Tyson’s treatment had finished, he was placed for adoption, and two weeks later he found an amazing forever home! Due to his needs, the search took a lot of work, but he found a home where his new mom stayed at home all day long and would take him on car trips to the city. There are two great kids in the family and a huge back yard that he can spend time running around during the summer while Dad is working on the yard.

Tyson was the first dog to go through the program and we used him as the tester for many of our new ideas. He did an amazing job and encouraged us to try so many new things after we saw his success!

Since Tyson, we have seen success with Hattie and Danny as well — two dogs in our foster program who couldn’t stand the confined space of our kennels. Danny is currently in foster while going through heartworm treatment and will be available within the next month or so.

Hattie (third photo) came to us near the end of the summer and went through heartworm treatment in the shelter. Hattie went up for adoption in October and still hasn’t had anyone interested in adopting her. She was placed in foster to get her out of the kennel atmosphere and to make sure she was happy while waiting for her new family. Meet her:

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