Who would ever have guessed how much shelter dogs love their armchairs? Well, actually, when you think about it, that should be no surprise.
By thinking outside the box, and applying a little creativity, the lives of homeless pets are changing. This is what Knox County Humane Society did and now other organizations are following their lead.
It all started earlier this year and shows how resourceful shelter staff are becoming in their efforts to boost pet adoptions. Read all about it here and see my favorite video, picked especially for you.
Shelter Mascot “Buster Brown” Starts A Trend
Whenever he got the chance, the four-year resident would try and climb onto a computer chair in the front office to get a better view of who was coming and going. Then the staff at the Knox County Humane Society, Illinois, decided it was high time he had his very own chair.
So they tried out an old armchair and “Buster Brown” was as happy as could be. He no longer struggled to curl up into a ball. He could stretch his legs and rest his head on the arm. That’s how the armchair initiative began and there are now 25 of them being used inside individual kennels.
It’s All About Comfort And Mood
Shelter Director, Erin Buckmaster explains the benefits and why the shelter dogs simply love their armchairs. “First of all, the dogs are off the floor and out of drafts. They are more comfortable and less stressed. Because of this, their behavior improves and they become more adoptable,” she told us.
Buckmaster then went on to mention that in February the first chairs were put in the lobby, in an area specially set up for the three dogs that had been at the shelter the longest. That way visitors see them as soon as they walk in and they can immediately visualize them relaxing on a chair or a sofa in their own home. It was a big hit.
When the local community heard about this, the response was amazing. In fact, the very first day, one lady showed up with 11 chairs she had bought at a thrift shop. It’s worth pointing out that donations are always welcome since the chairs are frequently replaced due to getting a bit chewed up and scratched.
Chairs For Cats
At the same time, some of the cats also got chairs. However, they are now using mostly plastic lawn chairs since not all of the felines are litter box users.
See for yourselves why shelter dogs love their armchairs so much. Video created by KCHS staff member, Tanner Smith.
Unwanted Chairs Furnish Animal Shelters
The Start Of A New Trend
“When we heard about the success they were having with the armchairs at the Knox County shelter, we decided to try it out, too,” said Lissa Waters, Development Coordinator at West Valley Humane Society in Caldwell, Idaho. This is an open admission shelter in the Boise metro area, that takes in over 7,000 animals of all kinds every single year. And, they will have up to 100 dogs for adoption at any one time.
A great example of an early success story relates to Roxy who was about 10 or 11 years old. “It’s always a lot harder to adopt out an older dog,” Waters commented. “She wasn’t doing well in this noisy setting but as soon as she was given a chair, she curled right up on her blanket and started to relax.” Staff took photos, then a local television crew came out, and Roxy was adopted a day or two later. What an inspirational story!
To Sum Up
Because this is such a great initiative, I’d like to leave you, the reader, with no doubt as to why shelter dogs are loving their armchairs so much.
- An armchair is a comfort item most dogs and cats are used to when they lived with their previous family.
- A chair is comfortable and has a calming effect. The stress level goes way down and a dog’s mood improves significantly.
- It allows a potential adopter to already visualize the dog fitting into its new home fairly effortlessly.
- The likelihood of a dog finding its (hopefully) forever home goes way up.
- And you can help, by spreading the word. Maybe you even have an old armchair to donate. The dogs will thank you for it!
A Helping Hand
If you would like to donate or volunteer at either of these shelters, here is the contact information.
Knox County Humane Society
1855 Windish Dr
Galesberg, IL 61401
West Valley Humane Society
5801 Graye Lane,
Caldwell, ID 83607
208 455 5920
I am sorry to report that “Buster Brown” passed away August 20 2018 due to congestive heart failure. R.I.P., sweet boy!
Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!
Feedback On What Works And What Doesn’t
I decided to get some feedback on how this novel armchair program was working out. So I contacted Brittany Sundell, Development Coordinator at West Valley Humane Society. But before continuing, it’s important to remind everyone that this is a medium to high intake shelter of around 4,000 dogs annually. So, it was certainly challenging but began on a positive note.
Overall Results – Animals, Staff, Donations
‘We used donated chairs for about four months with dogs in our kennels and overall our dogs loved it. They felt happier and more “at home,” Sundell stated. “However we had the following problems that prevented us from continuing.” Here is a summary of what she reported.
- Sanitation was a big issue since there was no way to truly sanitize a chair between dogs. As a result, they saw a rise in viruses like kennel cough due to the kennel environment.
- Another issue was making sure all chairs had at least a 6-8 inch clearance off the ground to allow for easy cleaning.
- Then the public, eager to help out, kept dropping off chairs while they were closed, that could not be used. Consequently, their trash pick ups became significantly more expensive because of the need to remove the unwanted furniture.
Other Shelters Can Now Make Informed Decisions
So, at West Valley HS they resumed using Kuranda beds with blankets to aid in the overall comfort and sanitation of the kennels. And, in her final comment, Sundell added, “We discussed the issue with our management team and the general consensus was this. If we were a lower intake facility that served less dogs or had a [shorter] stay for dogs, this would absolutely be a program worth continuing!”
If you appreciate the craft of hand knitting, here you will realize how stressed homeless kitties benefit from these beautiful cuddle blankets: https://petpeevesunmasked.com/knitting-kitty-cuddle-blankets/