Playgroup Gives Homeless Dogs A Chance


One of the ways Friends of PACC supports Pima Animal Care Center is by meeting staffing needs that go above and beyond the Pima County mandate of care. As an independent nonprofit in official partnership with PACC, we’re able to quickly fund and hire lifesaving positions throughout the shelter. Some of the positions that Friends has filled include a full-time vet, several veterinary technicians, an in-person pet support counselor, adoption counselors, cat care specialists, and more!

It’s only with support from donors across our community that we can meet these needs. Most recently, your gifts have allowed us to hire a Playgroup Specialist to help the PACC behavior team facilitate daily, large playgroups for dogs. “With the help of Friends of PACC the dogs in our care are able to express their natural behaviors through playgroup and kennel enrichment which reduces their stress and makes for much happier dogs!” says Thamzen Carson, Training & Behavioral Coordinator at PACC.

With the dedicated support of our new Playgroup Specialist, PACC can now run playgroups for six hours every day. Playgroups at PACC allow for 50-60 dogs to have between 15 minutes to 2 hours in the yard. The time could be shorter or longer, depending on how much an individual dog is enjoying or benefitting from playgroup interactions.


According to Dogs Playing for Life, thirty minutes of engagement in playgroup provides the same benefits of a two-hour long walk. That’s a lot of enrichment for a lot of happy dogs!

“It means the world to have a dedicated playgroup specialist like Jeremiah,” says Carson, “Because he is here at PACC to help we are able to have playgroups run reliably every day. This enrichment gives us a clearer picture of a dog’s behavior. With Jeremiah being solely in playgroup he really gets to know all the dogs and their playgroup habits. With this important information he is able to set up the safest, most beneficial experience for the dogs in our care, and ultimately have more insight to share with adopters.”

Chazzy (A635020) had a difficult time when he first came into the shelter and didn’t adjust well in his first foster home. In the shelter he was reactive to people coming near his kennel door, which made it unlikely that anyone would take him out to meet him.

Chazzy A635020

Chazzy A635020

He has been going to playgroup almost every day and his stress-induced behaviors are markedly reduced. Chazzy loves playing with other dogs and getting his energy out in playgroup. Playgroup has changed Chazzy’s life.

Pets are social animals that belong in homes, and playgroup is just one way we can help normalize a homeless pet’s life during its time at the shelter.

When Cherokee (A540402) came into the shelter, her previous owner noted that she wasn’t getting along with the dogs in her home. She was carefully introduced to playgroup, but it quickly became clear that Cherokee was in her element. She now comes to playgroup every day and is one of the “helper dogs” used to introduce new dogs into the group dynamic.

Cherokee A540402

Cherokee A540402

“If we did not have playgroup the only thing we would know about Cherokee is that she is not good with other dogs per her history and she would have more limited opportunities for adoption. With playgroup we can now say she is social and playful with all other dogs in the shelter!” says Carson, who calls Cherokee a “rock star!”

Lifesaving programming, like playgroups, is a critical part of giving every homeless, neglected, abandoned, and abused pet that comes into Pima Animal Care Center a second chance. You can support this programming and so much more when you give a gift to Friends of PACC today.

Sara Wolfe Vaughan