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Introducing Dog Playgroups at AC&C!

Baby and Champ in playgroupThis fall Animal Care & Control of NYC (AC&C) began work on a very exciting initiative with the introduction of playgroups for our dogs. Thanks to a generous grant from Best Friends Animal Society, we were able to bring in Aimee Sadler, founder of "Dogs Playing for Life" (DPFL), for nine days of intensive training with both staff and volunteers.

Aimee travels around the country teaching shelters about the physical and mental benefits of playgroups and provides classroom and hands-on training with the staff and the dogs. The goal is to get each dog out of their kennel to play in groups every single day. For dogs in kennel environments playgroups provide essential social access to other dogs, space and time to run and most importantly to play.

The playgroup program also allows us to exercise many more dogs in a smaller span of time than we are able with individual walks, allows for more effective cleaning of an entire, empty room while the dogs are outside and provides more detailed and accurate information about dogs’ behavior around one another – which significantly allows for better adoption matches and placement opportunities.

The impact these playgroups have had on our dogs in each of our shelters is already apparent: dogs are more tired when they return to their kennels, we have more confidence in their ability to interact appropriately with other dogs, we are better able to identify our ambassador “rockstar” dogs, we can better attend to fearful, nervous new intakes and playgroup participants seem more engaged and in better spirits.

Baby, Trinity, Champ Baby A1019371 in playgroup Baby, Trinity, Champ 2

This program is a real game changer for our dogs and while we have been able to utilize our existing outdoor space to the best of our ability, it is clear we need better-designed play areas to leverage the immense possibilities playgroups hold for helping the animals of NYC. To that end, the proceeds from our second annual New York's Kindest Dinner & Awards on December 5 will be used for new backyard playgrounds at our Manhattan and Brooklyn Care Centers.

playgroup close-upWe are thankful to Best Friends Animal Society and to Aimee Sadler and her staff for the tremendous experience we had under her tutelage. As our Behavior Manager Jen Abrams says, "There is little in the world that is as heartening and uplifting as walking into the yard and seeing a dozen of our wonderful dogs playing together."

For a behind-the-scenes look into Aimee Sadler's program Dogs Playing for Life check out this recent episode of Shelter Me, an inspiring PBS TV series that celebrates shelter pets with positive and uplifting stories.

If you would like to make a direct donation to the playgrounds, please email donate@nycacc.org.  


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