The Humane Society of Washington County (HSWC) is implementing a new Nap Time initiative to benefit the health and wellbeing of shelter animals. Beginning March 12, 2018, the cat and dog adoption floors will be closed to visitors, staff and volunteers from 12 pm – 1 pm daily. This will allow the animals an hour of uninterrupted rest.
During the one hour Nap Time, the shelter will remain open for business and phone calls.
“Research shows continuous stimulation can have a negative impact on dogs and cats. Between cleaning and feeding periods, and people coming to walk, meet, or socialize the animals, there’s a lot of unpredictable activity going on around shelter animals for 12 or more hours a day,” said Kat Cornell, Director of Operations. “We hope that, by consistently offering one hour of uninterrupted down time each day, the animals will feel more rested and benefit from the break in stimulation.”
According to veterinarians, the American Kennel Club, and animal behaviorists, the average cat should sleep between 16-20 hours per day and the average dog should sleep between 12-16 hours per day. Home life supports this natural behavior by giving the animal time when their human counterpart is not commanding their attention or asking something of them.
“In a shelter environment, dogs and cats are in a constant state of sleep deprivation that weakens their immune systems and adds to already higher stress levels,” said Cornell. “Turning down the lights and restricting access to the adoption floors during that hour will encourage natural napping behavior and reduce stress.”
The HSWC studied examples of other shelters that have documented positive results after implementing Nap Time. In review of their own Nap Time, Asheville Humane Society in North Carolina noted a significant noise reduction on the dog adoption floor, and the number of bite and scratch incidents greatly decreased. Their data showed that animals also tended to spend less time at the shelter before adoption, as reduced stress allowed their true personalities to be more accurately displayed on the adoption floor.