RSPCA QLD embracing enrichment in shelters

This week I had a catch up with vet services at RSPCA Wacol to see how everyone was going with their new enrichment strategies.

After our last talk, staff and vollies all got together and brainstormed to get some easy to follow plans in place for the dogs in care..

Together they came up with a 7 day roster of easy to do enrichment for AM and PM feeds and some activities in between.

Some included scatter feeds, egg cartons, milk bottles, frozen feeds, kong type toys and rolled up towels with kibble in.

There was a set number of activities rotated through the week so each day was slightly different to keep it interesting for both staff and vollies and the dogs.

This roster was printed, laminated and put in the kitchen for ticking off each meal each day!

I LOVE this!

Some staff had noticed though that on some days when pressed for time, old habits of reaching for a bowl snuck back in as this was quick and easy.

In actual fact the enrichment is just as quick and easy but it just takes time to form new habits.

To help form these new habits we asked if we could take all the bowls out of the kitchens and were received with a resounding YES!

We talked through some other options and came to the SloDog bowl which is my hot favourite item right now.

Bearing in mind we are talking about the Vet block and not the general shelter blocks so there are many patients in care that may struggle with some enrichment as they recover from surgery and illness. 

This is why I love the SloDog.

-It's low to the ground so good for all sizes. 

-Easy to eat from and not frustrating.

-The shape of the plate slows the dogs down and actually encourages licking and we all know that licking is a soothing behaviour and releases all the happy chemicals in the brain...so good for a patient that is feeling poorly.

-SloDog can be used to feed all types of food and treats

-Probably most importantly in a shelter environment...It is super easy to load and super easy to clean and store!

The general consensus in the room was to raise enough funds to replace all the bowls with SloDog bowls!

I am just so inspired at the level of dedication of all the staff and vollies on this project. 

They understand the value of enrichment in aiding recovery in this environment and are all working together to make it happen!

With this in mind Jes and I have put together a Vet Services SloDog pack. 

Customers are able to buy this and gift it straight to the Vet surgery and leave a note for the staff and animals they are gifting to.

We will organise delivery and a photo of the animals using your gift.

We are hoping we can help them reach their goal of replacing boring bowls with SloDog bowls!

Stay tuned for updates on this project!

We also spoke about enrichment with cats in care.

Cats are tricky little critterz as when they feel poorly and stressed they tend to stop eating which makes them feel poorly which makes them stop eating and on and on.

The challenge in a shelter environment is having so many animals in care is stressful for cats and many break with Catflu.

Catflu is contagious and once a cat has had it it will be a carrier for life.

Catflu takes hold when a cat is sick or injured, stressed, in poor health or all of the above.

We talked through some simple cat enrichment and ways to engage the cats in these enrichment items.

If you can get them engaging in the enrichment chances are you are elevating their mood which aids the healing process.

I am very keen for our next catch up to see what they have all come up with. Stay tuned!!!

All in all this is incredibly inspiring to me.

I know first hand the demands of a shelter and the stress the staff are under with what little resources they have. To see Vets, Vet Nurses and volunteers working so hard together to make such incredible daily changes just makes my heart sing.

Crazy Critterz Toy Box would like to send a massive thank you to everyone making these changes and I am so happy to help with the brainstorming side of things!

Stay Crazy- it's what changes the world!

Jessica Moore