Music reduces pet stress in shelters
Music reduces pet stress in shelters Pamela Fisher and her best friend, Lili pose in a field of flowers in Canton, Ohio. (Dr. Pamela Fisher via AP/Thinkstock)
Music reduces pet stress in shelters
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Can music tame the savage beast? Can it hush puppies and calm kitties?
 
A veterinarian thinks so. Dr. Pamela Fisher has put music in over 1,100 animal shelters. She says that it calms dogs and cats. And it even cuts down on barking.
 
Fisher started the nonprofit Rescue Animal MP3 Project nearly four years ago by asking artists around the world to donate dog- and cat-friendly music. The result was MP3 players packed with 30 hours of classics, including music by Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin, nursery rhymes like "Three Blind Mice" and harps, pianos and violins mimicking ocean waves and gentle breezes. She gives them free to animal shelters, sanctuaries and spay-and-neuter clinics.
 
"I have used therapeutic music in my practice and wanted to figure out a way to help the shelter animals in my own community," said Fisher. She is a holistic veterinarian whose practice in North Canton, Ohio, includes alternative approaches like aromatherapy. Her "community" has grown to include shelters in all 50 states. They house over 115,000 dogs and cats.
 
One fan is Tina Gunther. She is vet tech at the Cut Bank Animal Shelter near Cut Bank, Montana. She also is its sole volunteer (there are no paid employees). Winter temperatures at the rural shelter for six dogs and six cats routinely run well below zero, and "the wind blows nearly every day. We call them black blizzards - the top soil is just blown away," Gunther said.
 
To calm the animals, Gunther tried the radio. Besides hit-and-miss reception, the news and sports had people yelling and disturbing sound bites. Then the project MP3 player was installed for the dogs on one side. "The difference has been dramatic," she said.
 
She and her husband had to buy a second player for the cats. "When they play songs they like, they go and sit by the speakers," Gunther said.
 
No one has studied the impact of Fisher's specific music recipe. But others have looked at how music and noise in general affect animals. A 2012 Colorado State University study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior found that dogs were more likely to sleep and less likely to bark when Mozart, Beethoven and other classical artists were playing, but not when heavy metal, altered classical and other sounds were.
 
Fisher's website features many testimonials about the positive effects of her MP3 players, including a video from the Tuscarawas Humane Society in Dover, Ohio, that shows dogs relaxing and settling down after hearing the music. Tuscarawas shelter director Lindsey Lewis says on the video that the music has calmed the atmosphere and lowered the noise level.
 
A survey of more than 500 shelters conducted by Fisher also validated her approach. It found that barking reduced by half and animals on average more relaxed.
 
"It just de-stresses them. They are still happy and wiggly. They just aren't barking," explained Tania Huycke-Phillips. She is the foster and facilities coordinator at Bay Area Humane Society in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
 
Beyond the music, the shelter staff does all it can to reduce stress for the dogs, including toys, treats, food and spending time with them. "Reducing stress shows off their personalities and they get adopted quicker," she said.
 
To buy the MP3 players, Fisher applies for grants. She also collects donations and holds fundraisers.
 
The music also helps relax staff members and that benefits the animals too, said Fisher. She grew up singing and playing folk music on the guitar.
 
The project brought Fisher a new best friend, but it took a look, not a sound, to seal the deal. She was installing the music system at Summit County Animal Control in Akron, Ohio, in 2012 when a mutt named "Lili stole my heart with her glance."

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/tween78/music-reduces-pet-stress-shelters/

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why does music seem to calm the animals?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (54)
  • avab-4-bar
    10/12/2015 - 07:18 p.m.

    The music seems to calm the animals because it soothes the animals and relaxes them, it seems to decrease their barking swell.

    I thought this was interesting because I thought that animals would be more excitable with music. One question I have is if a dog listens to classical and is calmed by it, if a dog listens to rock or techno music will it become crazy and excited? My opinion is that I feel all pet owners should do this to their animals when they are to amped up.

  • sheilah-6-bar
    10/12/2015 - 07:43 p.m.

    The animals are calmed with music because most music isn't very annoying to them. It says in the article,"A 2012 Colorado State University study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior found that dogs were more likely to sleep and less likely to bark when Mozart, Beethoven and other classical artists were playing, but not when heavy metal, altered classical and other sounds were." This shows how animals like calm and relaxing sounds, while other sounds that are very noisy are disruptive. I already knew about this so it doesn't interest me a lot.

  • lilyg-2-bar
    10/12/2015 - 08:32 p.m.

    Music seems to calm the animals because it relaxes and de-stresses the pet. I found this article really interesting because it gives an idea of how the animals' emotions are effecting barking and how they act.

  • carmenh-orv
    10/12/2015 - 08:33 p.m.

    Animals may enjoy listening to music to feel calm just as much humans like listening to music. Personally I really enjoy listening to music when I’m stressed out. Animals in shelters may feel lonely, stressed, and abandoned when they are living in shelters because they don’t have a family to have fun with. So listening to music can maybe ease their emotions just like humans.

  • mayaw-6-bar
    10/12/2015 - 08:34 p.m.

    The music seems to calm the animals because it is calmer music, such as most classical music is, and it is a distraction. In my opinion I think the music is probably more white noise (background noise) that is distracting the dogs and cats, rather than actually having something to do with science. I think they are being less loud because they are distracted. This article interests me because I wonder how much science is going into the animals and the music.

  • madelinew-1-bar
    10/12/2015 - 10:27 p.m.

    When the classical music is played, the dogs and cats seem to calm down and stop barking. People believe that this is a sign of them calming down. I really like this article. It's cute, interesting, and full of facts. Also, I love dogs and cats, so I felt like I could relate to the article.

  • carlym-4-bar
    10/13/2015 - 12:07 a.m.

    Music seems to calm the animals because it makes the atmosphere in the shelter calm and relaxing, which has a big affect on the animals. In the article it says, "Tuscarawas shelter director Lindsey Lewis says on the video that the music has calmed the atmosphere and lowered the noise level." I enjoyed this article because I didn't know that music could calm animals.

  • fitzk-mcc
    10/13/2015 - 09:55 a.m.

    It probably calms animals the same way it may calm us, the music sounds pleasing to them so they are happier, and they are calmer. Because the music sounds pleasing to them, they sit around the speakers to listen better.

  • isaiahg-mcc
    10/13/2015 - 09:59 a.m.

    I think that music calms down animals because it takes their minds off of scary situations, for example being in a shelter.

  • leop-mcc
    10/13/2015 - 10:00 a.m.

    Music seems to calm animals because it allows them to relax. This will cause them to become less stressed. He or she will still be happy. They just won't be barking.

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