Help make a difference in the lives of our local adoptable pets through shelter enrichment.

This winter, open your heart and help our adoptable furry friends by donating items for behavioral enrichment at our local animal shelters!  From now until mid-February, there will be a box at our hospital where you can drop off items to be donated to our local shelters.


Shelter enrichment improves the lives of adoptable pets, getting them ready for their “Home Sweet Home.” Image source: Ellen Zangla Photography

What is shelter enrichment?
Shelter enrichment is the idea of providing long-term kenneled animals an outlet for their natural behaviors, social interactions, and exercise, while simulating a stress-free, “home” environment.    By creating positive living situations, these animals will be happy and healthy during their time at the shelter,  encouraging successful adoptions and a smooth transition to their forever home.

How is shelter enrichment accomplished?

Dogs can release energy and socialize in communal play areas:

Any dog kenneled for more than two to four weeks needs a social outlet. Play areas should be equipped with multiples of identical toys to prevent toy guarding. Inexpensive toy pools can be filled with sand or water for dogs to romp around in.


Shelter dogs need routine communal play time to socialize and release energy.    Image source: Ellen Zangla Photography


Cats need to release energy too!
Cute kitties may not need as much room for social stimulation, but a well-equipped play area is key in keeping kitty curiosity and negative behaviors at bay.  When cats are introduced into a new space, they should have hiding zones, perches, shelves, and scratching posts. Many cats will hide for several days then gradually explore their surroundings as they settle in.


Blankets and boxes not only provide warmth and coziness, but are a great place for shy kitties to nest in.


Everyday household items are introduced into the kennel:
Shelters can mimic a forever home by creating a “home life” room furnished with a couch, chair, coffee table, and television. These rooms are perfect for socializing with humans (kennel staff and potential adopters) and for behavioral evaluations and training.

Everyday household items and appliances should also be introduced into the kennel. These items include vacuum cleaners, blenders, radios, old audio/video tapes, wind chimes, and bicycles. Kennel staff members can turn these items on and off to help animals get comfortable with various sounds and stimuli.

Here’s how you can help:
The following items can go a long way in enriching the quality of life of our local shelter pets:

– Easy-to-clean durable toys (Several of the same toy with help prevent toy guarding during play time.)
– Dog beds and blankets can help to make cold kennel floors feel more cozy

– Perches, scratching posts, and sisal rugs
– Cardboard boxes or cat houses provide a hiding zone or shelter for shy kitties.
– Toys and balls (Wiffle balls are a great option for cats that bat smaller toys out of their kennel).
– Cat beds and blankets for coziness

General items
Thinking about doing a post-holiday or early spring cleaning? Before throwing out household wares, get creative and think what items or appliances may be ideal in helping to create a “home life” room:
– Furniture such as couches, chairs, tables, etc.
– “Noisy,” small appliances help pets get acclimated to household sounds, such as:

  • Vacuum Cleaners
  • Blenders
  • Radios
  • Old audio/video tapes
  • Wind Chimes
  • Bicycles

For questions regarding donation items or large furniture pieces, contact Joanne Scott by calling the practice (703-777-3313) or sending her an email (

Donations will help behavioral enrichment at the following local shelters:
Loudoun County Animal Shelter
Animal Welfare Society of Jefferson County, West Virginia
Berkeley County (West Virginia) Humane Society has some great article and tips for encouraging shelter enrichment on their site.  You can find that article, here.   And don’t forget, LVH’s “shelter” has some terrific pets up for adoption.  You can find out more about them on our PetFinder page, here.

Thank you for making a difference in the lives of shelter animals this winter!  Image source: Ellen Zangla Photography

Thank you for making a difference in the lives of shelter animals this winter! Image source: Ellen Zangla Photography




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: