Lynda Maselli smiles as she watches three lively puppies frolic on the lawn. A year ago, they wouldn’t have had that opportunity.
The nearly-finished grassy area, located at the Spokane County Animal Shelter, is known as P.L.A.Y. - the Pet Lover’s Activity Yard. Upon completion of the project, P.L.A.Y. will provide a yard-like fenced-in area for prospective pet owners to meet dogs available for adoption.
Dogs will soon be able to run loose in a more relaxed environment, instead of merely being walked around the paved parking lot.
“This will allow people to get to know the animal before they adopt,” explains Maselli, a volunteer at the shelter and the P.L.A.Y. coordinator. The goal of the project is to get as many animals as possible into homes with suitable “parents,” she says.
In 1996, the shelter handled 2,726 dogs. Of those, 721 were euthanized. On average each year, 35 percent of dogs brought to the shelter are reclaimed by their owners, and 44 percent are adopted. The remaining 21 percent are euthanized, said Nancy Sattin, Spokane County Animal Shelter’s director. The shelter usually holds animals for a minimum of 10 days, she said. Numbers are down from 1991, when 1,499 dogs were put down.
“You really need to have an appreciation for life, regardless of what it is,” Maselli says. She envisions the dogs frolicking with their prospective owners in the grass, and even has a box of dog toys waiting. She hopes the project will be completed this summer.
The yard will benefit not only future pet owners, but also dogs at the shelter by allowing them a change of scenery.
“We can get them out of the confines of kennels and let them ‘be dogs’ for a while,” Maselli says.
P.L.A.Y. also will permit volunteers and officials to interact with the dogs and test their social ability, manners and obedience.
Maselli spends two days a week volunteering at the shelter, walking and evaluating dogs. To ensure compatibility, she tries to match prospective pet owners with dogs that suit their needs.
“You can’t really tell a lot about a dog’s personality when it’s on the leash - you really need to take it (the leash) off to work with the animal,” she says.
Maselli has been very dedicated to the project. When her family asked what she wanted for Christmas, she said she wanted them to donate to P.L.A.Y. Now her dream is nearly realized.
P.L.A.Y. is two-thirds complete, with grass, sprinklers and a portion of the fence. But a total of $600 is needed before the dogs can romp leashless in their new yard. Work yet to be done includes completing the fencing around the yard, purchasing some benches and constructing a sign for the area.
The shelter also needs volunteers for building maintenance, walking and bathing animals, adoption counseling and office work.
To donate to the project, deliver or mail donations to P.L.A.Y. c/o the Spokane County Animal Shelter, 2521 N. Flora Road., Spokane, WA 99216.
For more information, call the shelter at 458-2532.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
MEMO: Created in support of the Spokane County Health Improvement Partnership (HIP), Discoveries highlights people working to improve community health and well-being. If you have a discovery that deserves recognition, call 742-3660. Or visit their website at www.hipspokane.org.
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