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Shelter animals suffering anxiety from severe weather

Both cat and dog kennels at Paws for Life are almost all full, and the shelter is short staffed
Posted at 7:41 PM, May 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-18 21:56:12-04

PUEBLO — While the streets flooded with rain in Pueblo, dogs and the Paws for Life Animal Shelter grew restless and anxious as a result of a thunderstorm.

“Some of them bark a lot more, some of them might pace, or just seem uncomfortable or a little bit nervous," said Kim Alfonso, the President of the Board of Directors at Paws for Life. Alfonso spent Sunday evening with the animals at the shelter as huge hail hurled down from the sky.

Alfonso says that on top of dogs already being in a new environment, “flashes of light, darkness, wind" are all elements of storms that can be anxiety inducing for dogs, since "animals are so much more sensitive than we are“.

In order to be proactive before the next storm comes to town, Alfonso began researching and brainstorming methods that might be able to soothe the animals.

“I have some dogs at home that are also fearful of the thunderstorms... We’ll turn on lights, We’ll turn on some music - one of their favorites is Native American flute!... Then we’ll turn on a fan for them to and that helps them, so we started thinking what can we do at paws?"

Paws for Life wants to install a surround sound system that would play soothing music throughout the entire shelter during a storm. Dr. Suzanne Hetts, who has an extensive resume as an Animal Behavior Expert and is a Colorado native, says this is actually one proven method in helping reduce and pet's anxiety.

"There have been a few studies that looked into the specific tones and pitches the dogs seem to prefer, and so there is some information about that," said Hetts.

However, Paws for Life is asking for help from the community to get their sound-system idea up and running.

“We have a ton of space, but we don’t have a system or a sound system that we could turn on one station in one place and it would benefit everybody in the shelter,“ said Alfonso.

“We’re hoping that maybe a professional in the industry would come in and tell us what we need, or if there is somebody who has done it in the past that they can help us… because if a thunderstorm happens at night… I’d like to be able to get on my phone or get on and app and turn it on for the dogs while we’re not here!"

Hetts says pet owners whose dogs experience "thunder anxiety" can also "provide a place in the house that, as much as possible, protects them from the sights and the sounds of the storms, so that might be a basement, it might be an interior room". She also recommends discussing medication with your vet.

If you would like to donate your time or materials to help Paws for Life with their surround sound system, please reach out to them here.

With a full shelter and a shortage in staff, the shelter is also looking for people willing to foster a pet or apply for work.