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Bainbridge Animal Shelter to start dog ‘play groups’ for training

A continuing effort to save more dogs in a better environment is being undertaken by the Bainbridge Animal Shelter. They will be using the services of a national group called Dogs Playing for Life. It is conducting a four-day training session with local shelter workers to teach them how to use the innovative program locally.

Information provided by the organization says that a dog’s natural instinct is to play, something that does not have to be taught. But placing the dogs outdoors in play groups gives participants demonstrations for safe-handling techniques and an opportunity to observe and assess behavior and emotional conduct of the dogs.

“Safety protocols for both people and animals are emphasized to ensure play groups bring out the best in shelter dogs, with the least possible risk of injury or the spread of infection.”

Literature promoting reasons to incorporate the system in the shelter states that allowing dogs to be dogs in and around the shelter is often a more reliable indicator of a dog’s true personality than the dog’s reactions during the intake process. Yet in thousands of shelters across the country following intake, dogs are segregated, locked up and their emotional and physical needs are denied until they are claimed by an owner, transferred, adopted, fostered or euthanized.

It states that many dogs suspected of displaying unpredictable behavior may be the first ones euthanized in order to make room for the dogs perceived as being more highly adoptable based on age, color, breed, manners, markings and physical appearance.

Ashley White, director of the local shelter, says bringing the trainers to Bainbridge can be an expensive venture, incurring costs that are not in the budget. However, they applied for and were given a grant to go forward with the training.

A fenced in outdoor area behind the shelter gives room for the dogs to run and romp together outside, getting rid of some pent up energy and counteract the stresses of being locked up inside the shelter.

Local shelter workers will take part in a four-day training beginning March 5 through 8. The shelter will be closed the first day, Thursday, March 5, so workers can attend the sessions.