2014 Innovation Grant Recipients

Agency City State Amount
The Animal Foundation Las Vegas NV $25,000
Some dogs have a harder time finding forever homes. They may be a harder-to-place breed, like a Pit Bull, a more common breed like a Chihuahua, or they may have behaviors that deter potential adopters. The PEDIGREE Foundation 2014 Innovation Grant will support The Underdog Initiative, a ground-breaking promotion to incentivize the adoption of dogs who have waited in the shelter for 6 weeks or longer. The promotion will encourage potential adopters to take a second look at an “Underdog” by offering incentives not typically provided with adoption, including:

  • Discounted adoption fee
  • Free collar, ID tag and leash
  • Free vaccines for the pet’s life
  • Discounted or free training
The Animal Foundation expects to find homes for 400 underdogs in 2015. They also expect the length of stay at the shelter to be decreased.
Animal Rescue League of Iowa, Inc. Des Moines IA $14,470
In an effort to promote the benefits of an active lifestyle for people and pets, the ARL Run with Shelter Dogs program was initiated in March 2014. In just a few months, the ARL Run with Shelter Dogs had more than 40 volunteers who had completed the program orientation and training to run with the dogs. Over 80 adoptable dogs have participated in the program and the program continues to grow. With support from a PEDIGREE Foundation Innovation Grant, ARL has goal of 80 volunteers trained to run with dogs in 2015.

The Run with Shelter Dogs program provides exercise and mental stimulation for shelter dogs; reduces stress and boredom; provides one-on-one attention, increases socialization; provides time out of the shelter; and improves leash and obedience skills. A robust marketing and communication effort promoting the Run with Shelter Dogs reminds potential adopters how a dog can fit into their lifestyle and enhance their family. This program is especially helpful in promoting adoptions for larger, high-energy adult dogs that are often overlooked in the normal shelter environment. The ARL also anticipates incorporating and formalizing a similar program dog walking program in 2015.
Animal Welfare Association, Incorporated Voorhees NJ $25,000
The Animal Welfare Association requested support to design and develop a comprehensive Behavior Modification and Training Program. Like many shelters, the Animal Welfare Association has struggled to maintain a consistent approach to training with volunteers. The hiring of a staff trainer to design, manage, and implement a program will bring about a shift in culture that will benefit the dogs in their care.

The PEDIGREE Foundation Innovation Grant will assist with hiring an experienced and qualified Canine Behavior and Training Manager; create standard procedures and develop tracking and documenting tools; create a volunteer training program to assist with the program; develop feed-back systems improve outcomes; and create a place to work within the shelter that provides a space conducive to working with the dogs who don’t do well in the noise and traffic of the shelter.
Friends for the Dearborn Animal Shelter Dearborn MI $10,000
The PEDIGREE Foundation Innovation Grant will support the “Pit Crew Initiative,” a comprehensive assessment, training, behavior modification, activity, and adoption program that promotes responsible placement and ownership of hard-to-place dogs. The “Pit Crew” mimics a NASCAR pit crew, where attention is focused on an individual dog’s particular and special needs. Every element of the program is important for the dog to “win,” which means they will find a loving and permanent home.

It is anticipated that 250 dogs will participate in the Pit Crew Initiative in 2015. The goals of the program are to 1.) significantly and positively impact each Pit Crew dog’s quality of life and increase the number of adoptions of hard-to-place dogs; 2.) prepare the dogs so that they are a great fit for a permanent, loving, and responsible home; and 3.) match the dogs with families who will give them the homes that all dogs deserve, regardless of their breed, size, or age.
The Humane Society for Greater Savannah Savannah GA $23,278
HSGS requested an Innovation Grant to support an expansion of the Operation New Hope Program, which pairs dogs at risk for euthanasia with minimum security inmates at the Chatham County jail. Most of the dogs participating in the program are owner-surrenders due to behavior issues. Each class of dogs completes a four-week training program with an inmate, after which they return to the shelter to be adopted.

The results of the pilot program were so successful that the Sheriff’s office wanted to expand the program. Structural changes were made to the County jail to significantly increase the number of dogs and inmates in the program. Recidivism rates of the participating inmates are less than 25% of the general population.

The project objectives are 1.) to increase the adoptability of the dogs through one-on-one socialization, behavior modification, and training; and 2.) to decrease the recidivism of the inmates through developing increased responsibility, enhanced self-esteem, and the acquisition of skills transferrable to improved life management and job acquisition.
The Humane Society of the Tennessee Valley, Inc. Knoxville TN $25,000
The PEDIGREE Foundation Innovation Grant will support a new adoption program model focused specifically on increasing dog and puppy adoptions and improving the long-term success of those adoptions. The funds will be used to 1.) expand the foster program to meet the needs of more dogs than the shelter can currently hold; 2.) enhance the enrichment program for dogs in the shelter through more play opportunities in the shelter and expanded programs that pair dogs with humans in exercise and play activities throughout the community; 3.) implement the ASPCA’s Meet Your Match program through the adoption process; and 4.) support an expansion of training classes and seminars to encourage lifetime ownership of adopted dogs.
The Humane Society of Yuma, Inc. Yuma AZ $24,095
As the only animal shelter in the 5,500 square miles of Yuma County, HSoY is an open admission shelter with the goal to achieve no-kill status. A key element of achieving that goal is the reduction of the number of owner surrenders and returns of adopted pets to the shelter. The PEDIGREE Foundation Innovation Grant will support the cost of a behavior training program. A behaviorist has been hired to evaluate all dogs who enter the shelter. The behaviorist will also train staff and volunteers to assist with the evaluation process.

Additionally, the grant will support the costs of a two-day seminar for all staff and key animal-handling volunteers with Robert Cabral, as well as enrichment supplies for training and a series of four, one-hour basic training classes for new adopters and clients who want to relinquish their dogs because of behavior issues. The goal in 2015 is to reduce the animal relinquished rate by 75%.
McKamey Animal Center Chattanooga TN $25,000
The McKamey Manners Program, with funding from the PEDIGREE Foundation Innovation Grant, will provide dogs with behavior training and adopters and the general public with information about the proper care of pets, thereby increasing adoptions, reducing the length of stay in the shelter, and decreasing the return rate of adopted dogs.

A Behavior Consultant will be hired to work with dogs and train staff and volunteers. Many of the dogs that might otherwise fail their behavior assessments will be helped and adopted. In addition, the program will create a safety net for owners who are having problems with their dogs. Instead of returning the dogs to the shelter, they can take advantage of Ask A Trainer Sessions at McKamey and training classes made available at a reduced cost.
PAWS Chicago Chicago IL $25,000
PAWS Chicago is Chicago’s largest no-kill animal welfare organization. Their No Kill policy dictates that every animal that goes into their care is given a “lifetime guarantee.” This means that for any reason, they will always allow an adopter to return a PAWS animal.

PAWS will use the PEDIGREE Foundation Innovation Grant to further develop their Gold Star dog program, which works with dogs who exhibit signs of fear or aggression caused by confinement, neglect, abuse, or life as a stray. The Gold Star dog program provides a treatment plan to help each dog make steps toward rehabilitation from the moment it comes in PAWS’ care. Using funds from the grant, the Gold Star pre-adoption program will be expanded and each adopter of a Gold Star dog will be offered a voucher for a free six-week training course to ensure that the adopters understand the challenges of Gold Star dogs while helping the dogs succeed in their new homes.
Pet Helpers, Inc. Charleston SC $25,000
Pet Helpers is a 36-year-old organization that has saved the lives of thousands of animals throughout the Lowcountry of South Carolina. It is dedicated to ending the unnecessary euthanasia of all adoptable pets in the Lowcountry by providing programs and services to end overpopulation and protect and shelter animals from abuse, cruelty, and neglect. They are a no-kill shelter and animals remain in their care until they are adopted.

Funds from the PEDIGREE Foundation Innovation Grant will be used to support the “Special Forces” foster program, which has proven to result in increased adoption rates.
The Special Forces program will be divided into five groups:
“Boomerang Gang” – This group of fosters will be more involved in the training and behavior management of individual animals to help them become more adoptable.
“Club Med” – This group of fosters will provide individual animals with a relaxing environment in which they can heal from treatable illnesses.
“Life Savers” – This group of fosters will provide temporary home environments for long-term residents who need a break from the shelter environment.
“Stork Squad” – This group of fosters will care for puppies that are too young for adoption and may need round-the-clock care in the short term.
“The Guardians” – This group of fosters allow animals to complete their life cycles outside of the shelter environment. They provide hospice care in safe, comfortable, and loving homes.
Thomas J. O’Connor Animal Control and Adoption Center Foundation, Inc. Springfield MA $22,000
Furever Smiles is a program that increases dog adoptions by ensuring that all adoptable dogs receive a dental evaluation and treatment as needed to achieve good dental health and improve overall health and appearance. The TJO Foundation was first awarded a PEDIGREE Foundation Innovation Grant in 2013 to implement the Furever Smiles Program and saw a 20%reduction in shelter time for dogs. Additionally, by having their own dental unit, they have saved more than $3,000 in outside contracted dental care needed to save dogs with grade 4 disease from euthanasia. The second award in 2014 will assist the further expansion of this successful program, with a goal of increasing the adoption rate of small, middle-age and senior dogs by 15% and educating adopters about the importance of maintain good dental health of their new companion.