Reducing Animal Stress in Shelter and Rescue Animals

Guest Blogger,
girl with dogs and cats

For my Girl Scout Gold Award, I am working to reduce stress and boredom in shelter and rescue animals. I started doing this project because I love animals and want to do anything I can to help them. I currently have adopted 4 pets of my own and would like to give other animals a higher chance of finding a home by reducing their stress. I also want to help animals have a happier and better experience in shelters and rescue groups.

Most shelter and rescue animals spend the majority of their time in cages, with little out time, which leads to them getting bored. The animals also get stressed and anxious from loud noises, unfamiliar smells, and unfamiliar feelings such as cold floors and having nothing to hide in and seeing lots of people and animals. This boredom and stress can lead to even worse issues, such as getting sick and having an increase in behavioral issues, such as pulling out their fur and spinning around their cages, which can decrease their chances of getting adopted.

To help with this issue, I have decided to make items that help reduce stress and boredom and donate them to local animal shelters and rescue groups. These items include hideaway houses, food puzzles, blankets, beds, toys (including interactive ones), cat privacy curtains, scratching posts, rabbit hay rolls, and others. In addition, I donated a custom-built donation box for the West LA Animal Shelter so that others can continue to donate, long after my project is done. Furthermore, I plan to create an agility course for the Santa Monica Animal Shelter. On top of all of that, I helped Kitty Bungalow win a grant of $1500 from the Stern Memorial Trust to help more cats! I also led a donation drive to collect more items to donate.

So far, I have donated to Santa Monica Animal Shelter, West LA Animal Shelter, Wags and Walks, Operation Blankets of Love, NKLA, Westside German Shepherd Rescue LA, Fur Baby Rescue, Kitty Bungalow, Stray Cat Alliance, Chesterfield Square Animal Shelter, O’Brians Gift (street dogs), Pet Pride Shelter, Forte Animal Rescue, Felines and Friends, Beach City Kitties, Lange Foundation, and Cat Cafe. To ensure that I am helping reduce stress and boredom in shelter and rescue animals, I worked with Dr. Lynsey Rosen, a vet from Shiloh Veterinary Hospital, who gave me advice on how to help the animals.

I have also led several workshops, including at the Palms-Rancho Park Library, to inform others about the importance of pet enrichment and keeping animals calm in shelters and rescue groups. During these workshops, I gave several options of items people could make and provided supplies. Everything we made at these workshops were donated to local animal shelters and rescue groups. Before the workshops ended, I handed out instructions on how to make all the items we made that day and more, and provided a list of possible animal shelters and rescue groups they could donate to.

My goal for these workshops is to inspire more people to help their local animal shelters and rescue groups. I made sure that everything we made was super simple and could be done with common household objects, such as toilet paper rolls, old t-shirts, tennis balls, and socks.

If you’re interested in learning how to make these items, I started a YouTube Channel (called Reducing Animal Stress) with videos on how to make some of them, created an Instagram and Pinterest account (@reducinganimalstress) for my project, and even created my own website ( to educate, inform, and inspire others to help the animals in their community.

—Written by Ariela Robinson

Ariela Robinson is a teen volunteer at the Palms-Rancho Park Branch Library, and a 10th grader at New West Charter School.

—Emily Meehan, Young Adult Librarian, Palms-Rancho Park Branch