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Soothing sounds for sheltered pets

After that frustrating day at work, those hours of filing taxes, or that game-changing job interview, what do you do to calm your nerves?

Sink into the couch cushions at home? Kick off your shoes? Play some classical music?

Thanks to donations from the community, now animals at the Pima Animal Care Center will be able to relax the same way. (Minus the part about the couch and shoes because the dogs might chew them up.)

PACC will update the pound's phones and intercoms, and install a sound system to play classical music throughout the kennel rooms, using $10,000 in donations to create a more relaxing environment for the animals.  

“It was an all around group effort from donors and the volunteers here,” said Justin Gallick the shelter manager. “People gave anywhere from one dollar to $1,300, our biggest donation."

“Best practices demand improving the quality of life for animals at our adoption center,” he said. “And it’s been established that music does indeed have a soothing affect.”

The unfamiliar noises, strange environment and large collection of new, furry roommates all contribute to the shelter animals’ stress levels. High stress can lead to barking and other symptoms of anxiety, which might turn off potential adopters, Gallick said. But lower stress translates to better behavior, which increases the animals’ chances of being adopted.

That’s where the classical music comes in.

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The Humane Society of Southern Arizona started playing classical music for their animals a little over two years ago, and the effects have been "just amazing," said spokeswoman Samantha Esquivel.

"Before we started playing music, the dogs would just bark and bark," she says. "Now, they are just so much more relaxed and quiet. It really helps potential adopters see the true color of the dogs."

 Gallick says the sound system at the PACC hasn’t been installed yet, but notes even though it is a large project he is expecting it to be up and running in the next few months.

Staff members at the shelter want to ensure the system will be able to serve the facility long into the future, even as technology advances, said Rhonda Bodfield, a spokeswoman for Pima County. 

The Pima Animal Care Center, l4000 N. Silverbell Rd., is a member of the American Humane Association and a division of the Pima County Health Department

In 2012, over 28,000 abandoned, stray and unwanted animals were received into the shelter. A little over 15,000 were saved. That’s about 800 more than in 2011, according to the PACC 2012 Annual Report. 

The sound system is a continuation of PACC efforts to improve living conditions for the animals. Similar fundraisers in 2012 helped purchase elevated dog beds for the kennels, stretch and scratch blocks for the cats and special veterinary measures like dental care and tumor removal. 

The additional funding made it possible for veterinarians to give special treatment to 25 animals that would otherwise have none. These animals were all placed in new homes or rehabilitation centers. Gallick is hoping the classical music will help other animals find homes too.

“The music will help them adjust to coming into the shelter. That way, they’ll be more receptive to people coming in to adopt,” he says. 

If you are interested in adopting a pet from the PACC, there is an adoption promotion through the end of January that will allow you to buy any pet for $13. That includes micro-chipping and vaccinations, said Gallick. 

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There will also be a Valentine’s Day promotion in February. 

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Francis Barraud

What's on your pup's playlist?

Looking to adopt a pet?

  • PACC adoption hours: Monday-Friday: noon-7 p.m., Saturday & Sunday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 
  • Phone: 243-5900
  • To check out your options online: www.pimaanimalcare.org