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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Dogs are playing at KC Pet Project’s newly built yard, but it’s not just your typical play date. Dogs at the city’s animal shelter are playing for their lives this week.

“Being in these play groups have literally saved their lives,” Tori Fugate, a spokesperson for the shelter, said.

You might ask how?

Aimee Sadler, the Executive Director of Behavior and Training at the South Hampton Animal Shelter Foundation can answer that. She is traveling the country to host these trainings.

“What happens to them inadvertently by being sheltered, even though we’re suppose to be a safe haven for them, their environment is extremely stressful and very counter intuitive for them in terms of having good balanced behavior,” Sadler said.

Sadler said that behavior, can sometimes end in the dogs being euthanized at some shelters.

“If they’re not coping well and they’re displaying behaviors that are misdiagnosed as aggressive, it’s really important for them to give you the opportunity that that’s not what that’s about,” Sadler said.

Sadler said during her training, dogs are taken into the yard one-by-one. There are already other dogs inside a section of the yard who are known to play nice.  Once other dogs sniff out the incoming dog through a fence, Sadler will let him or her in.

She’ll observe and talk about what she sees with onlookers, learning more about the furry friend.

Fugate said this works.

“The percentage of the dogs that we’ve been pairing up from play groups, their adoption rates, skyrocketed.  So once we match them up in play groups and we know so much more about them, those dogs find homes so much quicker than before these play yards were ever put here.”

Fugate said the dogs find homes faster because they are better prepared to tell adopters about the dogs.  All the dogs are available for adoption.

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