Humane Society of Sarasota County unveils new sensory garden for dogs

Sensory Garden for Shelter Dogs 3-6-21

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - In an effort to continue the mission of finding a home for every adoptable pet in its care and enriching human lives along the way, the Humane Society of Sarasota County (HSSC) announced the addition of a new sensory and enrichment garden to the HSSC facility.

The garden has key components intended to reduce stress for the shelter animals. It was planned by staff to stimulate the HSSC residents’ senses, leading to more successful transitions to and from life in the shelter.

“We are able to provide shelter for animals, particularly dogs, in desperate need of help. However, some of which find it hard to cope in kennels,” said Anna Gonce, executive director of the Humane Society of Sarasota County. “By activating all of a dog’s senses – touch, smell, sight, sound, and taste – the sensory garden is designed to reduce stress and help them relax in their new surroundings.”

Barkley, a black Lab mix, has three legs, but that doesn’t stop him from enjoying what this sensory garden has to offer.

“It gives them a positive outlet just to be a dog,” said Gonce.

The sensory garden features an assortment of herbs and flowering plants, sand pits for digging, bridges, and fountains, all designed to provide relaxation and reduce stress.

“We are incredibly grateful to Mr. (T. Ralph) Taylor, and the support of many local businesses, individuals, and volunteers, including gifts in kind, for bringing this dream to fruition. This garden will enrich the lives of our animals with a 360-degree approach to animal behavior and welfare. We look for innovative ways to encourage natural behaviors that give our dogs constructive outlets for their anxious energy,” said Gonce. “A sensory garden is one of the best ways to ensure our dogs are getting all of the mental and physical stimulation they need to live a happy, healthy life. This will change the lives of dogs that come into our care and better prepare them for finding their loving, forever homes.”

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