The Toledo Area Humane Society in Ohio has taken a revolutionary approach to helping their longer-stay rescues feel less like they are crammed in a kennel, and more like in a room in someone’s home. The idea really seems to be taking off, as many of the dogs in the shelter do look as if they’re enjoying the change of scenery.
They call it a “Real Life Room.” It’s intentionally decorated like an average living room you’d find in many homes across the world. The room is equipped with a leather recliner and throw pillows, a shaggy rug, a lamp, a box of dog toys and even a television set!
“The way it is furnished, even the lighting, plays right into creating a natural home environment where these dogs can forget all their “worries” of kennel life and be at peace for even just an hour while they are waiting for their new families to come find them,” says Jessica LaValley, Annual Fund Manager at the Toledo Area Humane Society.
The dogs have been very receptive to the new room. Some of them really feel like they’re at home again, and takes some of the stress of being cooped up in a shelter all the time. Many of the longer stay dogs REALLY like the new Real Life Room.
“It is obvious the change in the dogs’ personalities when they are in the Real Life Room versus the kennels,” said LaValley. “Some dogs simply don’t do well in the kennels, whether it be because they don’t get along well with other dogs; they are easily stressed out from the noise and people; or they become depressed because they are used to being in a home. Upon entering the natural and calm environment of the Real Life Room, we can instantly see these dogs relax and become a whole different animal.”
The shelter takes in around 5,000 animals every year. They’re also the ONLY shelter in Lucas County, Ohio that investigates animal abuse and cruelty cases, so they do a lot of work, and a lot of animals are brought there in not the best of conditions. Many are afraid of humans or very stressed out being around other dogs in a place full of unfamiliar smells, so the shelter tries to do whatever they can to help make things a bit easier for the rescues.
“It is usually anxiety or stress from the kennel life that brings them to the room in the first place,” said LaValley. “So, as much relief from that as possible is what this room is all about. Creating a safe space for them to relax and decompress while they wait for their forever homes.”