Reports From This Organization

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

What was the money or product used for?

The funding from the Petfinder Foundation was used to cover the admission costs for one DCHS employee to attend the Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Program.

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

Attending the Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Program inspired our staff to create a consistent play schedule for dogs in our care. Now playgroups are solidified as a program within DCHS’s Canine Behavior Team (CBT). Playgroups have allowed many shelter dogs who appear to be fearful in their kennels to come out of their shells and act like different dogs once they’re in the play yards. We’ve seen dogs blossom during their stay with us, and dogs with long lengths-of-stay have the opportunity to relieve stress from daily shelter life and act like “regular” dogs again. This has been extremely helpful for ensuring that our dogs remain dog social during their time at the shelter, and that they continue having positive interactions and experiences with other dogs once they are adopted.

Playgroups have also been beneficial for DCHS’s adoption and behavior teams. Seeing dogs interact with each other helps us identify what lifestyle may be best for each individual dog, and what pet personalities each dog will have the most positive interactions with. This had led to more successful adoptions and has reduced the amount of returns due to the dog being a “bad match” for the family.

How many pets did this grant help?


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

Calvin arrived at Dane County Humane Society (DCHS) as a stray found in the city of Fitchburg back in July. He was very thin, had areas of scarring on his front paws, and wasn’t neutered. Once Calvin was neutered and medically cleared, he was enrolled in the Canine Behavior Modification Program and had his first playgroup experience. Calvin was severely under-socialized and defensively aggressive towards other dogs his size. The Canine Behavior Team (CBT) decided to introduce Calvin to one of our smallest, but friendliest and wiggliest, dogs.

Once Calvin got out to the yard, he became a different dog. He was play bowing and jumping up and down with excitement. Within two weeks, Calvin became one of our best playgroup participants! He longed for playgroup each day he was at the shelter, and genuinely enjoyed playing with every dog who entered the yard.

While Calvin’s playing abilities and socialization improved, he was still waiting for the right person to come through the shelter to bring him to his forever home. In September, a spot opened up at a partner rescue organization, Happily Ever After, and CBT decided he was the best candidate to go since he had already had such a long length-of-stay at DCHS. Soon after Calvin was transferred to Happily Ever After, he was adopted into a loving home. Playgroups helped Calvin blossom while at DCHS and set him up for success for when he finally went home with his future family.

Dane County Humane Society: A Shot at Life Vaccination Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

We received vaccines to vaccinate owned neighborhood dogs at one of our Community Dog Day events — free veterinary clinics — that took place in October 2014.

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

As a proactive measure, we hold Community Dog Day events in neighborhoods where we see a high intake of dogs at our shelter. Our purpose is to reach out to dog owners in these neighborhoods to provide support in their pet ownerships, to help them keep their pets at home, to embark their pets on a path of good health by administering life-saving vaccines, to answer any questions and share information, and to encourage spaying and neutering and to take appointments. At these events, we also administer free microchips and hand out free gently used dog supplies, dog food, ID tags, and flea and tick applicators.

The responses from event participants confirmed that we did good at our event and helped them by providing access to veterinarians and to necessary vaccines. Most people expressed their concerns in keeping their pets healthy, and not always being able to achieve this goal because of financial challenges.

Statistically speaking, 47% of the dogs that arrived to the event had never previously received vaccinations or the owners were unsure; out of the 37 dogs that were not neutered, 26 of them signed up for spay/neuter appointments; and 33% had never previously seen a veterinarian.

By our holding these events and dispensing life-saving vaccines, people were reassured that the health and well-being of their pets received appropriate attention. Based on the turnout and responses, we feel made a positive impact in a neighborhood where we see a lot of dogs arriving to our shelter, mostly as strays.

How many pets did this grant help?

52 dogs

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

We met many wonderful dog owners who love their canine companions and family members. About midway through the event, a woman approached our check-in table with a huge pit bull terrier on a belt. She had real difficulty handling the dog, who was pulling excessively. Behind her arrived her son with two more pit bull terriers. The dogs seemed under-socialized and overly excited being at the event, so we quickly escorted them to a room we had set aside for dogs that might not be comfortable in the environment. Volunteers quickly went to retrieve dog supplies that the owners didn’t have. They made up three “gift bags,” one for each dog, containing collars, leashes, harnesses, toys, and dog food. Meanwhile, one of the veterinarians was summoned to meet the dogs and eventually administer the vaccines. At first, the dogs were overly excited and expressed their excitement in loud barking and lunges at the end of their makeshift leashes. With the patience and kindness of the volunteers and the veterinarian, the vaccines were administered and by the end of their stay, all three dogs were doing beautiful “sits” for treats. It was very satisfying to help the dogs embark on a path of good health by being able to give them life-saving vaccines, as well as to be given an opportunity to provide their owners with tools to help manage their dogs a little better.

We also met Atlas, who proudly introduced us to his little terrier mix named Roger. Roger survived Hurricane Katrina and Atlas had adopted him to give him a new home in Madison, WI. Roger was a happy little fellow and he and his owner waited patiently for their turn to see the volunteer veterinarian. Atlas was proud of rescuing Roger and being able to give him a new life.

Alisa and her Chihuahua, Sweet Pea, were one of the first families in line. Alisa had had Sweet Pea for about two weeks. She had gotten her from a neighbor and didn’t know her full history. Alisa said that she came to our event to use every resource that she could get. “Not everyone has money and this way we can make sure she is healthy,” said Alisa.

Jose Guerrero brought his 3-year-old Maltese, Lulu, for the “whole package.” He’d gotten her vaccines, a microchip, flea and tick control, a brief medical check-up and signed her up for a spay surgery. Jose said that he thought our event was good for the dogs and good for the community.