Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Coming to YHS: The Sound of Music

Read about Woogie below
The Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) is in the midst of implementing another innovative program called "Enrichment." Enrichment describes activities, protocols and amenities introduced into a shelter environment that are designed to enrich the shelter experience of rescued animals. The typical shelter experience for most animals is a traumatic and fearful ordeal. YHS is committed to mitigating, if not eliminating, that distress.

One way to do that is to introduce the calming effects of music into our animal care centers. Sound is an important part of an animal's surroundings. Sadly, most animal shelters are not built with that understanding. Concrete and block walls and cement floors echo the harsh sounds of frantic dogs barking and whining begging for attention; while other dogs fearfully huddle in the corners of their unfamiliar kennels awaiting an uncertain future.

Clinical studies have documented that specific music vibrations, sounds and tempos create a calming effect on pets. Certain musical compositions also help pets cope with common phobias such as thunderstorms, loud noises and other stressors, creating a harmonious and enriching environment that improves their health and behavior. These studies have demonstrated that the introduction of calming music in a shelter visually reduces the three key measures of discomfort: restlessness, anxiety and respiration rates.

One study explored the influence of five types of auditory stimulation (human conversation, classical music, heavy metal music, pop music, and a control) on the behavior of 50 dogs housed in an animal shelter. The dogs were exposed to each type of auditory stimulation for four hours, with an intervening period of one day between conditions. The dogs' position in their kennels (front, back), their activity (moving, standing, sitting, resting, sleeping), and their vocalization (barking, quiet, other) were recorded over four hours at 10-minute intervals during each condition of auditory stimulation.

The study found the dogs' activity and vocalization were significantly related to auditory stimulation. Dogs spent more time quietly resting and less time standing when classical music was played compared to the other stimuli. Heavy metal music encouraged dogs to spend significantly more time barking in an agitated state than the other stimuli. These studies suggest that the welfare of sheltered dogs can be enhanced through exposure to appropriate forms of auditory stimulation. Classical music appears particularly beneficial, resulting in activities suggestive of relaxation and behaviors considered desirable by potential adopters. This form of music may also appeal to visitors, resulting in enhanced perceptions of the shelter and an increased desire to adopt a dog.

Based on this research, YHS wants to raise $2,500 to install a sound system in our two animal care centers. With these systems, YHS will be able to provide calming music designed to improve the quality of life for our rescued animals, both dogs and cats, during their stay with us. Promoting relaxation through music will help all our animals cope with their stress and will create a more inviting atmosphere for adopters.

If you would like to help YHS with this life-saving project, please consider a donation to assist with the purchase and installation of this equipment - just send your contribution with the designation "sound system." You can mail your donation to the Yavapai Humane Society at 1625 Sundog Ranch Road, Prescott AZ 86301, or on-line at and click the "donate" button.

NOTE: Only 11 days left in our Monsoon Madness Adoptathon: All dogs and puppies are just $25 and all cats and kittens are "pick your price," All adoptions come with spay/neuter surgery, vaccinations and a micro-chip; a value over $400. Now is the best time to adopt your new best friend at YHS.

The dog in the picture above is Woogie, a 2-year-old male pure-breed Labrador retriever who makes friends easily with polite dogs; he is gentle enough for children and would be a great family dog. Because there has been so much interest in Woogie, he will be available for adoption by silent auction at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at YHS.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.