You may have heard us say that SICSA is more than shelter. Maybe you thought that we were only referring to the different programs we offer beyond rescue, surrender, and adoption. Programs like spay and neuter for the public, and humane education for young people. Maybe you didn’t realize that SICSA has an extensive enrichment program for animals in our care. As SICSA members, we want you to know more about our enrichment program; and why we take this extra effort to ensure, not only the physical needs of these animals, but also their mental.
So what is animal enrichment? Also known as behavior or environmental enrichment, Wikipedia describes it as an “animal husbandry principle that seeks to enhance the quality of captive animal care by identifying and providing the environmental stimuli necessary for optimal psychological and physiological well-being.”
You probably know or expect that SICSA walks our dogs often and cleans up after both our dogs and cats. But beyond walks and cleaning, SICSA has a team dedicated to ensuring there are activities which keep our dogs and cats mentally busy. From snuffle mats to puzzles which provide treats, every animal staying at SICSA receives enrichment daily. Below are just a few of the different enrichment activities we offer the animals in our care.
Snuffle Mats: (picture of a dog and a snuffle mat). Treats and specific scents are hidden amongst the fleece of these DIY mats. The animals then push their noses into the mat (snuffle) to find the treats and enjoy the scents. Dogs enjoy all kinds of scents, many of which are the same humans enjoy such as peppermint, tea tree, and lavender.
Treating Puzzles: (picture of a cat with a treating puzzle) The animal must “solve” the puzzle in order to get the treats he or she can smell are inside.
Pupsicles: (picture of the pupsicles) These frozen treats take more than a minute to eat. Sized for the dog so s/he doesn’t eat in a single gulp, they provide an extra bonus during the heat of summer as a cool down after a jog or walk.
PetFlix: SICSA has a cat room where our feline guests have a condo with two to three rooms, but do not have unlimited access to the rest of room – including its two windows. For these cats, we have a TV with an ongoing video of birds, mice, squirrels, and fish.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg – or pupsicle. A great deal of effort is made by staff and volunteers in ensuring our animals are as healthy and happy as possible. Enrichment is a shining example that SICSA is, in fact, more than only shelter.
Want to learn more? Consider taking participating in one of our volunteer orientations https://www.sicsa.org/volunteer/adult-volunteer/ or adult workshops (https://www.sicsa.org/volunteer/adult-volunteer/adult-tours/).