Denver Animal Shelter Opens New Dog Play Yard

Published on November 03, 2023

Denver Animal Shelter (DAS) released the hounds…into a brand-new play yard this morning. Thanks to community donations to a fundraising campaign in August, DAS now has a new place for homeless pooches to play.

The shelter celebrated the opening of “Hugo’s Yard” today, named after shelter alum, Hugo, whose owner provided a generous donation to fund the enclosure.

“As Denver’s only full-service, open-admission shelter, Denver Animal Shelter does the vital work of providing care for our city’s neediest animals,” said Mayor Mike Johnston. “I’m thrilled this new play yard will provide dogs with more enrichment and socialization opportunities, leading to more adoptable pets to join the homes of Denverites.”

Play yards are important to give dogs the chance to not only stretch their legs in a safe environment, but they help combat the stress and anxiety of shelter life. 

“Pets at Denver Animal Shelter get amazing care while they wait for their forever homes,” said Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) Executive Director Bob McDonald. DDPHE oversees the shelter.

“This new space provides more opportunity for shelter dogs to play outside in the fresh air which is important for their health and well-being,” said McDonald.

The ability to play can also help make dogs more adoptable since it socializes them with other dogs and humans. Interacting with adoptable dogs in the play yard also allows shelter staff to gain information about a dog’s behavior to best match them to potential homes.

Use of the play yard will significantly grow in 2024 when 30 shelter staff and volunteers will take part in an 8-week training with the Shelter Playgroup Alliance to learn about animal behavior, enrichment and how to manage safe dog playgroups. This training is paid for with a grant from Petco.

Ultimately, the additional play yard will help DAS place more vulnerable animals more quickly into their forever homes. A happy dog connects better with potential adopters and makes the transition from shelter to home smoother.

As the full-service, open-admission animal shelter in the Denver metro area, DAS is currently at capacity. If you're interested in adopting a shelter pet, DAS is offering a Fall in Love adoption special through November. Any dog or cat is just $50. That adoption fee includes spay/neuter surgery, vaccinations, microchip and a 1-year pet license. See adoptable pets online.