Did you know that at around 118 decibels,
shelters are noisier than a passing subway train
and even louder than a jackhammer? That’s tough
on our puny human ears – in fact, OSHA
regulations say we should be wearing ear
protection at levels above 90 decibels – but it’s
even worse for dogs, who hear three times better
than we do.
Noise in shelters, from the banging of cages and
kennels being cleaned to the barking of dogs, is a
major component of stress for animals in the facility. That stress can lead to increases in heart
and respiration rates and decreased gastrointestinal function. In addition to physical illness, it
can trigger new behavior problems, and make existing ones worse.
Excessive noise levels are just one of the stressors shelters need to be more aware of, says Kelley
Bollen, MS, CABC, of the Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell University College
of Veterinary Medicine. She recommends that the next time you’re in your shelter, try listening
from a dog’s perspective – or even your own. Because if the morning cleaning routine gives you
a headache, imagine what it’s doing to those super-human canine ears.
To learn more about identifying and reducing stress in shelters, check out the video of Bollen’s
presentation at the 2012 ASPCA/Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Conference here.