Dogs at the Huntington Animal Shelter will get the chance to participate in playgroups that will help them burn energy and counteract the stresses of shelter life.
The town shelter has begun implementing Dogs Playing for Life, a socialization program for shelter dogs. In addition to playgroups for the dogs, the program also helps provide better indicators for shelter staff in classifying dogs for adoption.
“Huntington is proud of our shelter and our efforts to stay at the forefront of current trends in caring for the physical and emotional needs of the dogs in our care,” Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said in a statement. “We are excited about the potential of the Dogs Playing for Life program to stimulate dogs at the shelter and prepare them for their lives when they find new homes.”
This week, the founder of Dogs Playing for Life, Aimee Sadler and her team, began training shelter workers and volunteers in the program, according to a town statement. The training includes a classroom session and training with some of the shelter dogs. There is also a classroom presentation and demonstration for safe handling techniques during group experiences.
The Dogs Playing for Life program has its roots on Long Island, beginning at the Southampton Town Animal Shelter 17 years ago.
“Play is good for animals and people,” Sadler said in a statement. “Letting shelter dogs get together to socialize daily helps them to cope with the stressful kennel environment while waiting for someone to take them home.”
The benefits of the program include critical dog-to-dog social skills that can help postadoption in developing positive relationships, along with exercise that will help relax the dogs in their kennels when meeting people. Also, shelter staff will gain a better understanding of each dog by observing its state of play and social skills of the leash — information that can be used to make better decisions about potential adoption matches.
The program, which costs approximately $6,000, is being funded at a cost share by the town and the Huntington League for Animal Protection, whose volunteers have worked with the shelter dogs for many years.
Jane Barbato, who runs the volunteer program at the shelter for the League for Animal Protection, said, “The shelter staff and LAP volunteers already know that we have the most wonderful dogs in the world. Playing for Life gives the public the opportunity to see for themselves just how magnificent they really are — in all their glory, just doing what dogs do, reveling in their connection with each other.”
Dogs Playing for Life is the latest program implemented at the shelter in an effort to help dogs find new homes and help with basic socialization training.
The town is planning on chronicling the progress of the program in online videos told through the eyes of Dixie, a pit bull mix at the shelter.