By Kelly Werthmann
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Animal shelters can be a noisy place. Dogs often barking in fear and confusion, eagerly waiting for a “fur-ever” home.
Jeff Molenda knows that nervous noise well. He’s been a volunteer at the Foothills Animal Shelter in Golden for the last five years. To help the dogs he enjoys caring for, he came up with a creative idea.
“It was like this trigger idea, and it was natural for me to take on,” Molenda told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann.
Molenda remembered a study about playing music to keep dogs calm, so he started the Animal Tranquility Project. He organized a fundraiser to get a sound system installed in the shelter, even pitching in money from his own paychecks to make it happen.
“It took about a year and a half, but it was well worth it,” he said. “We raised the $8,500 to have it all installed.”
Now, it’s not just any music that plays for the adoptable pups. Molenda said studies also show dogs prefer chilling out to reggae.
“So we started playing reggae music throughout the whole shelter,” he said, “but the cats did not like it.”
In order to soothe the cats anxious for a loving home, the shelter plays a “purr-fect” selection of classical tunes.
“I think the cats would like reggae if we gave them some catnip beforehand,” Molenda said laughing.
Playing classical music isn’t just calming for cats – it’s proving beneficial for humans, too. Shelter staff said the healing sounds relax humans who may be anxious to find a furry friend, and when everyone is a bit calmer more animals are likely to be adopted.
“If humans are more calm and relaxed, then the animals are, too,” Molenda said.
While it still is a bit noisy in the shelter from time to time, Molenda said the music is making a big difference. And that’s precisely what the generous human set out to do.
“I just thought, ‘if I can take that down one little notch and have the dogs be a little more calm and happy, then I’ll have done my job here.’”
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.