Humane Society program reduces animals' stress

Saturday, November 23, 2013 | 7:30 p.m. CST

CAPE GIRARDEAU — The dogs and cats at the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri aren't just sitting around in their pens while waiting to be adopted.

The society in Cape Girardeau has begun a kennel enrichment program to reduce the stress for animals. The program includes playing music, using oils to stimulate the animals' sense of smell and providing them with different toys and activities to keep them moving. As an added bonus, potential owners can see the animals being playful.

The Southeast Missourian reports the games include "Cheerios from Heaven," a game for dogs in which a staffer throws cereal in the air and lets the dogs find it. Other ideas include freezing cheese into ice or putting kibble and peanut butter into rubber toys for the dogs to get to after they chase the toy around the pen. Treats are sometimes also placed in paper bags for the dogs to tear apart.

For cats, brushes are attached to cage doors so they have something to rub on and toys made of feathers and other items are hung in the kennels.

The program gives the animals something to do while they wait for their new homes, said director Kelly Goff.

"It calms them," Goff said. "Well, maybe not right at the moment, but throughout the day it decreases levels of barking."

Kennel enrichment activities apparently are becoming popular across the country. The Cape Girardeau staff learned about the program at an animal care expo they attended earlier this year in Nashville, Tenn.

Most of the toys used in the program are donated, but they go fast because the shelter takes in an average of 10 animals a day, Goff said.

The shelter took in 3,378 animals last year and is on track to meet or exceed that this year. About 60 percent of the animals it accepts are adopted or sent to rescue shelters, but the others must be euthanized.

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ann Peters November 24, 2013 | 8:39 a.m.

The No Kill Equation––developed by the No Kill Advocacy Center––is a humane, sustainable, cost-effective shelter model that works hand-in-hand with public health and safety, while fulfilling a fiscal responsibility to taxpayers. The success of this approach across the country proves the viability of this model. If every shelter in the country comprehensively implemented the ten programs and services of the No Kill Equation, we could end the killing of 3-4 million sheltered animals right now. There is a better way!

For a description of the programs of the No Kill Equation and how shelters should implement them, please visit

*No Kill Nation, Inc. and the No Kill Advocacy Center are separate and distinct organizations. The No Kill Equation was developed by the No Kill Advocacy Center, and is the only model that has been successful in creating a No Kill community.

The mandatory programs and services of the No Kill Equation include:

I. Feral Cat Trap/Neuter/Release (TNR) Program

II. High-Volume, Low-Cost Spay/Neuter

III. Rescue Groups Transfers

IV. Foster Care

V. Comprehensive Adoption Programs (including off-site adoptions)

VI. Pet Retention Programs

VII. Medical and Behavior Prevention/Rehabilitation Programs

VIII. Public Relations/Community Involvement

IX. Volunteers

X. Proactive Redemptions

XI. A Compassionate Director

The final element of the No Kill equation is the most important of all, without which all other elements are thwarted—a hard working, compassionate animal control or shelter director not content to regurgitate tired clichés or hide behind the myth of “too many animals, not enough homes.” Unfortunately, this one is also often times the hardest one to demand and find.

But it is clear that No Kill is simply not achievable without rigorous implementation of each and every one of these programs and services. These programs provide the only model which has ever created No Kill communities. It is up to us in the humane movement to demand them of our local shelters, and to no longer settle for illusory excuses and smokescreens shelters often put up in order to avoid implementing them.

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