Multnomah County Animal Services Bolsters Canine Enrichment Through Playgroups

by Jay LeVitre


Building on the success of consistently high live-release rates each year, including 95.5% for dogs and 89.3% for cats in 2015, Multnomah County Animal Services (MCAS) is focused on providing personalized care, enrichment programs, and increased medical care for animals at the shelter.  2016 saw two major milestones for dogs- a dog playgroup training workshop, and the hire of Andrew Mathias, Canine Care Specialist.

What is a dog playgroup?

Dog playgroup is when the shelter brings kenneled dogs out to play together in a closely monitored and controlled environment.  Playgroups teach dogs social skills, reduce stress, and provide exercise to dogs who are either kenneled or taken on leash walks each day.  Of course, playgroups need to be monitored by trained staff or volunteers. In November 2016, MCAS hosted Aimee Sadler, founder of the nonprofit Dogs Playing For Life, to provide training to staff and volunteers on playgroup best-practices and methods during a two-day workshop.  Sadler developed and implemented the first dog playgroups in over forty animal shelters internationally, and her methods are now accepted and implemented as an industry standard in animal welfare for reducing stress, improving adoptability, and raising live-release rates for dogs in shelters.

MCAS welcomes Andrew Mathias as Canine Care Specialist

Multnomah County Animal Services (MCAS) is excited to announce the recent hire of Andrew Mathias,  Certified Behavior Canine Consultant (CBCC-KA), as Canine Care Specialist.


The Canine Care Specialist position is newly created with the goal to provide a stable, healthy environment that is stress-free for the dogs in our care.  Andrew will create canine behavior training and enrichment programs that can be implemented by staff and volunteers to help de-stress, calm, and provide enrichment for dogs at MCAS while they wait for new homes.
Andrew previously provided evaluation, training, and enrichment services for animals at Hawaiian Humane Society, and has also volunteered for Humane Animal Welfare Society (HAWS) in Wisconsin.



About Multnomah County Animal Services (MCAS): Multnomah County Animal Services cares for approximately 6,000 animals each year, 100 percent of which are from the local community.  As the only open admission shelter in Portland, Multnomah County Animal Services is a national leader with record-high save rates. In order to sustain our success in saving the lives of local animals, Animal Services relies on the Portland community to adopt, foster, volunteer, license their pets, and donate.