Dawn Saunders has volunteered at Rochester Animal Services' shelter on Verona St. for two years. After being trained a couple months ago, she became a play leader at the shelter's new off-leash Play Yard.
"I see happier dogs," said Saunders. "They're a lot more content when they go back. They're not all stressed up. They've let all their energy out. They've gotten time to play and be happy."
Animal Services Director Chris Fitzgerald said the Play Yard idea has been in the works for years. Kodak owns part of the land adjacent to Brown Square Park where the Play Yard is and entered into an agreement allowing the shelter to use it. Finally this summer with about $5,500 in grants and donations, the fences went up for the Yard.
The shelter takes in about 3,200 dogs a year. Some dogs are returned to their owners, others go to rescue groups and others still have to be euthanized.
But many are adopted out. Fitzgerald said the Play Yard can help more dogs, find happy homes.
"These dogs could be here for a day, 5 days, 10 days, two weeks, could be longer without being able to get out, run around and interact with other dogs. They're just sitting in small area where they hear the other dogs and smell the other dogs and after a while it has a negative impact on their well-being, their behavior," said Fitzgerald. "They don't present like dogs people want to have in their homes."
Fitzgerald said the Play Yard allows workers and volunteers to truly know how these dogs interact with other dogs in a more realistic environment.
"We've had two or three dogs that their lives have actually been saved by the Play Yard because they've been able to come out and play. And we've been able to see their true personalities out here," said Saunders. "This is one of the greatest things they've ever done at Rochester Animal Services."
Saturday the shelter is holding a free adoption day for cats and dogs. The event runs from 11am-4pm.