Saturday, October 20 , 2018, 5:52 pm | Fair 80º

 
 
 
 
Advice

7 Santa Barbara County Animal Shelters Collaborate to Host Dogs Playing for Life Training

It’s not all fun and games when it comes to sheltering animals. Each year, volunteers spend thousands of hours in Santa Barbara County animal shelters to attempt to alleviate the stress of dogs that spend their days behind kennel doors, but fall short with limited time and too many dogs to attend to.

“A shelter is an unnatural environment for even the most well-adjusted dogs,” Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society executive director Emily Grossheider explained.

“For the first time in the history of animal sheltering, we’re trying to understand the animal’s emotional and physical needs better.” 

One way seven shelters in Santa Barbara are trying to serve their dogs better is through a nationally recognized enrichment program, known as Dogs Playing for Life, which teaches staff and volunteers to strategically create dog playgroups. Dogs Playing for Life has visited more than 150 shelters in the United States, including the Santa Barbara Humane Society and Santa Barbara County Animal Services in Santa Maria, to introduce this program, which has increased live-saving and quality of life for shelter dogs and their caretakers.

When dogs are matched properly and get out to play together, they release tremendous amounts of stress through exercise, socialization and species-to-species learning. It could take staff and volunteers eight straight hours to get 50 dogs on walks that would otherwise be fulfilled by playgroups in just an hour.

Shelter staff and volunteers also learn how to evaluate dogs better, match them with potential adopters, and enjoy watching the dogs have fun!

The Santa Barbara County Animal Services in Santa Barbara and Lompoc, the Santa Barbara Humane Society, Dog Adoption and Welfare Group (DAWG), the Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society, Shadow’s Fund and Old Yeller Ranch Rescue are raising funds to receive training and support from Dogs Playing for Life. Click to view larger
The Santa Barbara County Animal Services in Santa Barbara and Lompoc, the Santa Barbara Humane Society, Dog Adoption and Welfare Group (DAWG), the Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society, Shadow’s Fund and Old Yeller Ranch Rescue are raising funds to receive training and support from Dogs Playing for Life. (Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society photo)

In March 2016, Santa Barbara County Animal Services in Santa Barbara and Lompoc, the Santa Barbara Humane Society, Dog Adoption and Welfare Group (DAWG), the Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society, Shadow’s Fund and Old Yeller Ranch Rescue hope to host the Dogs Playing for Life team for more than two weeks to improve enrichment in Santa Barbara shelters and save more lives.

Each shelter will attend a seminar and then host the team at their location to work with individual dogs, staff and volunteers.

“We couldn’t be more excited,” Grossheider said. “Shelters across the country have implemented the Dogs Playing for Life program with resounding success, and we can’t wait to work together to make it happen in Santa Barbara!”

To host the training, the seven shelters need to raise about $37,000 to cover expenses. About half of that money has already been raised through foundation grants and individual shelter donors, but the shelters hope to raise the rest with community support.

“Our shelters are working together to give the animals in our community the best shot at a brighter future,” Grossheider said. “We know the community wants to support this effort.”

Click here to make an online donation by designating “Santa Barbara County” in the memo or by mailing a check made out to “Dogs Playing for Life” at the attention of Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society, P.O. Box 335, Buellton 93427.

Any questions can be directed to Grossheider at 805.688.8224 or [email protected]umane.org.

Dogs Playing for Life is a 501(c)3 organization and donations may be tax deductible.

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