ACCT Philly is excited to announce our participation in a Canine Enrichment study lead by Dr. Lindsay Mehrkam, Ph.D., BCBA-D at Monmouth University, and sponsored by Maddie’s Fund.  This important study will be the first to “prove” that canine to canine enrichment, or “play group” based interactions, reduces stress in dogs living in a high intake municipal shelter setting.

As the “baseline shelter”, ACCT Philly has an important role in the study. Our dogs receive an enrichment plan consisting of human-only interaction, plus in-kennel enrichment, while other participating shelters offer dog-dog play groups for their dogs. By comparing the kennel presentation and levels of the stress hormone cortisol between the “baseline” (us!) and dogs who participate in playgroups, the study will show which group of dogs has lower stress levels.

If you’ve been to the shelter lately, you have may noticed signs saying “Drool Donor” on dogs’ cages. These dogs are participating in the study and their drool is collected twice daily to test cortisol levels. Volunteers and staff are doing an excellent job keeping up with the collections and making sure the dogs receive no dog interaction for one week, per study requirements.

To meet some of these awesome Drool Study dogs who have “graduated” from the program, make sure to follow us on Facebook. These pups have been worked with one-on-one by the “drool team” volunteers, and allowed various people to touch the collection swab to their gums, tongue, and all over their mouth with no problems! These are great, patient dogs who deserve some celebration – and loving, new homes!

Please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions about the study or any current or former study dogs, and thank you for your role in supporting this important study. You can reach us at