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Our History

The Shelter Playgroup Alliance was formed out of a conversation about best practices for managing inter-dog play.  When presented with the idea of assembling shelter professionals from Northern California to discuss approaches and share best practices, The behavior team at Sacramento SPCA graciously offered their education room for just such a gathering, which took place in the late spring of 2018. Those two days of discussion and presentations drew nearly 45 shelter behavior professionals from multiple states and across California.

Almost half of the participants joined a working group, led by Mara Velez, in developing what would be known as the first version of the Shelter Playgroup Alliance guidelines.  Since launching the guidelines in early spring of 2019, the Shelter Playgroup Alliance was incorporated as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization and has educated people all across the globe on a very small budget, with an un-paid staff and a small number of volunteers.

You can learn more about our impact in 2020 by reading our End of Year Report.

Our Mission
The mission of the Shelter Playgroup Alliance (SPA) is to provide animal welfare organizations with education, tailorable guidelines, and support materials for developing and implementing comprehensive enrichment programs.  These programs focus on healthy inter-dog interactions, including playgroups, that align to the Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive ethical standard (LIMA). LIMA-based playgroups are devoted to providing dogs with opportunities to consent, physical and mental safety, and avoid the use of aversives.

Our Vision
All shelter animals will receive daily enrichment both in and out of their kennel or enclosure during their shelter stay. All shelter dogs who enjoy inter-dog interactions will experience physically, and behaviorally healthy interactions, regardless of shelter resources. All staff and volunteers will have the education necessary to demonstrate excellent management of inter-dog interactions and provide multi-faceted enrichment to all sheltered animals.

You can read more about the Shelter Playgroup Alliance at this IAABC Journal article published in the 2019 Winter editionClick here to download a copy of the article.

Visit our YouTube channel for videos that support our guidelines.

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