Hush pup­pies: Vet says that mu­sic can cut shel­ter bark­ing and stress

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

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, say­ing that it calms dogs and cats, and 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 do­gand 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, 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 that house over 115,000 dogs and cats.

One fan is Tina Gun­ther, vet tech at the Cut Bank An­i­mal Shel­ter near Cut Bank, Mon­tana, and 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-and­miss 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, find­ing 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, the foster and fa­cil­i­ties co­or­di­na­tor at Bay Area Hu­mane So­ci­ety in Green Bay, Wis­con­sin.


This un­dated photo pro­vided by Dr. Pamela Fisher shows Pamela Fisher and her best friend, Lili, pos­ing in a field of flow­ers in Can­ton, Ohio. Fisher started a cam­paign nearly four years ago called the Res­cue An­i­mal MP3 Pro­ject. Mu­si­cians do­nated 30 hours of mu­sic that stops dogs from bark­ing and de-stresses and re­laxes dog and cats. She has now pro­vided over 1,100 MP3 play­ers to shel­ters across the coun­try. She was in­stalling a player in a shel­ter in Akron, Ohio, when a glance rather than a sound won her over.

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