She may or may not have known it, but there was something very special about Dora’s arrival this June at the Santa Barbara Humane Society. She was the hundredth lucky dog to be transferred from another shelter since the S.B. Humane Society started taking dogs from the other shelters. After implementing progressive new canine enrichment and adoption techniques, the the S.B. Humane Society has helped lower the number of dogs crowding California shelters.
Dora came to the S.B. Humane Society with her friends Jasper, Miles, Bunny, and Sarah Jessica Barker from Fresno Humane Animal Services. With play groups and open adoption practices — which have caused a 67.1 percent decrease in the S.B. Humane Society’s standing population from 2011 to 2016 — the S.B. Humane Society has been able to reach out to multiple overcrowded shelters since January 2016, including Santa Barbara County Animal Services, Downey Animal Care Center, Long Beach Animal Care Services, and Fresno Humane Animal Services.
The open adoption process is a conversational approach to screening potential adopters and finding dogs and cats forever homes. The “open” part of open adoptions requires that staff keep an open mind, display positivity and receptivity, and provide tools and educational materials to help the adopter succeed no matter what background the potential adopter may have. Shelter Office Manager Faryn Beverino, who has seen first-hand the difference that open adoptions have made at the S.B. Humane Society, says “by leading with love instead of fear we are truly able to save lives.”
The S.B. Humane Society has increased dogs’ adoptability and quality of life by letting adoptable dogs play and socialize in a safe and controlled environment. Adoption Counselor Erica Jackson explains how this makes dogs more easily adoptable; “dogs are able to burn off energy in a physically and mentally stimulating way, making them better behaved during the day. Their personalities shine through, making it easier for staff to counsel prospective adopters and ensure a good fit for each dog and family.”
The organization Dogs Playing for Life (DPFL) pioneered the play group system, and DPFL staff have visited shelters across North America, including the S.B. Humane Society, to train shelter staff how to effectively and safely get every dog out of their kennel every day. Besides daily play groups, the S.B. Humane Society emphasizes adoption animal enrichment by giving dogs Kong toys with frozen wet food inside, dry-food-filled “wobblers,” and other food toys to keep dogs from getting bored in their kennels.
In 2017, the S.B. Humane Society celebrates its 130th year of providing a safe haven for homeless dogs and cats while finding forever homes for them. Its services include shelter, animal adoption services, a spay-and-neuter clinic, a humane education center, boarding kennels, a large animal-holding center and corral, and inspection and rescue services. For more information, visit sbhumanesociety.org or call 964-4777. Find Santa Barbara Humane Society on Facebook and Instagram.
Clair Lofthouse is the public relations and events coordinator at the Santa Barbara Humane Society.