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Enrichment program helps reduce animals’ stress as they wait for a home

At the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter, as our lifesaving rates increase, the amount of time that some animals are spending in the shelter is also increasing.

Our goal is to find homes for our animals as quickly as possible, but some animals require time to heal, medically or emotionally, before they are ready to be adopted. Some animals are also more difficult to adopt, due to either behaviors, age, or breed and some animals are simply overlooked.

In our efforts to give them all a chance, we have to give them time. This time is not without a cost, however; the longer an animal stays in the shelter, the more likely they are to become stressed. In order to combat shelter stress, we are implementing a new and innovative enrichment program.

Our enrichment program focuses on engaging all of an animal’s senses. It’s really fun to see these activities in play! To engage their olfactory system, we have a collection of safe scents in the form of baking extracts and dry herbs in spritz bottles. We may spray the room or add an item to their cage that has been infused with a scent. Cats and dogs have impressive senses of smell and just adding these scents to their day can stimulate a large portion of their brain.

To engage the animal’s visual senses, we play with bubbles! We also use disco lights and lasers to perk their interest. Some other items we use are puzzle feeders, which allow animals to engage in the activity to receive food as a reward. Some of these include Kongs, Wobblers, PVC tubes, and Frisbees.

Snuffle mats and snuffle balls are also used with food to encourage foraging. For even more fun, we can add scent to these materials. You may see these in the dog’s kennels in the adoption room. For the cats, we will hang small scrub brushes in their cages. The cats will rub against the brushes to groom themselves, which relieves stress.

A really exciting part of our Enrichment program engages the animal’s auditory senses.

The Rescue Animal MP3 Project donated a set up for our dog adoption room. With funds earned from a Pillows for Paws event at the Pin Cushion- Fabric and Quilt Shop in Vineland, we were able to purchase eight additional setups so we could have every room that houses animals in the shelter participate in the program. These units feature different sounds and music that have been studied to be pleasing to animals.

If you are interested in helping to grow our Enrichment Program, please consider making a donation of some of the items that we use regularly, which include cat nip, bubbles, canned tuna, laser pointers, tennis balls, Kongs, Wobblers, Frisbees, and bully sticks. These small items go a long way in making an animal’s shelter stay more comfortable, thus increasing their chances of being adopted.

Source: Enrichment program helps reduce animals’ stress as they wait for a home

Want to help us provide enrichment to our shelter pets?

These are items on our Amazon Wish List are items we use & need to be able to continue our enrichment program!

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