Playgroup Brings Joy to Pups

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When dogs arrive at the shelter they are often overwhelmed by all the new sights, sounds, and smells. Although surrounded by gentle and caring staff and volunteers, the world as they know it has turned upside down. Some adjust and patiently wait for their new families, but many are too scared to come out from under their beds. Some have such intense anxiety that they bark and spin in their kennels. These stress-based behaviors make it difficult to get to know each dog’s true personality.

Daily playgroups are changing the lives of homeless dogs by helping them open up and letting their personalities shine! It’s all thanks our donors who enabled Friends of PACC to hire a Playgroup Specialist at PACC, Jeremiah Powers. With his dedicated support, PACC can now run playgroups for 50-60 dogs every day. Depending on how much an individual dog is enjoying or benefitting from playgroup interactions, time in the group ranges from 15 minutes to 2 hours.


“My favorite thing about playgroup is watching dogs come into their own through work with other dogs by learning to enjoy social interaction and build confidence that can carry out into the rest of the dog’s life,” said Powers. 

One example of a dog finding his confidence is the story of Ramos. Shy and nervous, Ramos would often hide under the table or cower in a corner when he first started going to playgroup. The other dogs mostly left him alone, but several playgroup sessions later, Ramos connected to a particularly energetic and playful dog. Ramos gave him a play bow and the two proceeded to chase each other around the yard in joy! Ever since that day, Ramos has been more playful, energetic, and social while in playgroup. “Without playgroup I don’t believe his behavior would have improved while in the shelter,” said Powers.

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Meeting staffing needs that go above and beyond the Pima County mandate of care is just one of the ways Friends of PACC supports the most vulnerable pets in our community. As an independent nonprofit in official partnership with PACC, we’re able to quickly fund and fill lifesaving positions throughout the shelter. Positions filled by Friends include a full-time vet, several veterinary technicians, an in-person pet support counselor, adoption counselors, cat care specialists, and more!

See Jeremiah and our playgroup in action in the video below.

There are many ways that you can get involved in helping shelter pets de-stress and open up their winning personalities. Fostering gives pets a chance at normalcy as they live in a home while awaiting their adoptive family. Dog walking and cat socializing gives pets in need essential one-on-one time with a caring person. Both of these opportunities give shelter staff, volunteers, and most importantly potential adopters, insight into the individual traits and needs of each pet. To learn more about fostering or volunteering at PACC, visit our website at www.friendsofpacc.org/get-involved.

Sara Wolfe Vaughan