Doggie Wellness Program Comes To Shelter

TOWN OF HUNTINGTON, New York, May 28

BY: Andrew Wroblewski

Few dogs wouldn’t bark at the opportunity to get outside, run free and, perhaps, make a few puppy pals along the way.

Huntington Town Animal Shelter workers and volunteers of the League for Animal Protection pose for a picture after being trained in the internationally-known dog wellness program, Dogs Playing for Life.
Huntington Town Animal Shelter workers and volunteers of the League for Animal Protection pose for a picture after being trained in the internationally-known dog wellness program, Dogs Playing for Life.

That’s the mindset behind the internationally-known dog-wellness program, Dogs Playing for Life. Founded by experienced dog trainer Aimee Sadler, the program has traveled around the globe in order to create play groups for shelter dogs in hopes of helping the little bundles of energy burn some of it off while simultaneously aiding the dogs in being adopted and combating the stresses brought about by shelter life.

As of this month, the Dogs Playing for Life program officially became a part of life for the workers at the Huntington Town Animal Shelter and the volunteers of the League for Animal Protection (LAP). Training included classroom sessions and hands-on work with the dogs of Huntington’s shelter, which is found on Deposit Road in East Northport.

“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,” Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said in a press release.

Sadler paid a visit to the Huntington shelter and began the process of training workers and volunteers in the Dogs Playing for Life program, which she originally began at the Southampton town shelter. The program has since spread to more than 100 shelters worldwide.

The concept is simple: create play groups for shelter dogs so that they can learn valuable dog-to-dog social skills, exercise, and give shelter workers a way of evaluating the pups so that they can find potential adoption matches.

“Play is good for animals and people,” Sadler said in the release. “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.”

Jane Barbato, head of the volunteer program at the shelter for the LAP, commended the Dogs Playing for Life program and said it offers the shelter dogs a grand opportunity.

“The shelter staff and LAP volunteers already know that we have 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,” she said.

The public will have that opportunity as town officials plan to take a “first-person” perspective through the eyes of one of the shelter’s dogs, Dixie, a pit bull mix. Videos are planned to be posted online that portray the progress that the program makes at the shelter.

Costs for the program – coming in at approximately $6,000 – were divided by the town and the LAP.

“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,” Petrone said.

Originally published: Long Islander News: Half Hollow Hills
(Thursday, May 28, 2015;  A7)

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