One year after the Santa Barbara Humane Society introduced socialization play groups for its dogs, the average length of stay has dropped from 2.5 years to 9 months.

The playgroups, which allow the dogs to socialize and help each other become less fearful, more secure and more socially satisfied, will be highlighted at the Santa Barbara Humane Society open house from 12-4 p.m. Sunday, May 1, 2016, at 5399 Overpass Road in Santa Barbara.

“We’ve gone through an amazing transformation since adopting the playgroups,” said Peggy Langle, Santa Barbara Humane Society’s executive director. “The dogs’ energy is spent in a very positive way, where they have an outlet for kennel stress, and it’s provided social enrichment for a lot of our dogs.”

In March, the Santa Barbara Humane Society welcomed a return visit from the nonprofit Dogs Playing for Life, who helped introduce the profoundly impactful playgroups.

The playgroups have enriched the lives of adoption dogs by providing time to socialize and play with each other, and they have allowed staff to get to know dogs’ personalities better, which helps them better match dogs with good homes.

Since adopting playgroups, the Santa Barbara Humane Society has had a lower census than they have in years, vastly reducing their population of long-term dogs. As a result, the shelter has been able to help overcrowded local shelters by taking in some of their animals.

“For the first time, Santa Barbara Humane Society is in the positive situation of being able to transfer dogs into our shelter from other overcrowded shelters,” said Langle.

Guests of all ages will be able to watch adoptable dogs in playgroups at the May 1 open house. The Santa Barbara Humane Society will also be providing discounted $5 vaccinations for pets at its on-site veterinary clinic, special program demonstrations, face painting, magic show and reading corner for kids and the chance to meet adoptable dogs.

This event is free and open to the public, with donations encouraged.

For more information about the open house, visit or call 805.964.4777.

Berlin Galvan is a publicist representing the Santa Barbara Humane Society.

By Berlin Galvan for the Santa Barbara Humane Society | April 13, 2016 | 1:25 p.m.