- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

LOS ANGELES - Can music tame the savage beast? Can it hush puppies and calm kitties? A veterinarian thinks so.

Dr. Pamela Fisher has put music in more than 1,100 animal shelters, saying that it calms dogs and cats, and even cuts down on barking.

Fisher started the non-profit Rescue Animal MP3 Project nearly four years ago by asking artists around the world to donate dog- and cat-friendly music. The result was MP3 players packed with 30 hours of classics, including music by Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin, nursery rhymes like “Three Blind Mice” and harps, pianos and violins mimicking ocean waves and gentle breezes. She gives them free to animal shelters, sanctuaries and spay-and-neuter clinics.

“I have used therapeutic music in my practice and wanted to figure out a way to help the shelter animals in my own community,” said Fisher, a holistic veterinarian whose practice in North Canton, Ohio, includes alternative approaches like aromatherapy. Her “community” has grown to include shelters in all 50 states that house more than 115,000 dogs and cats.

One fan is Tina Gunther, vet tech at the Cut Bank Animal Shelter near Cut Bank, Montana, and its sole volunteer (there are no paid employees). To calm the animals, the project MP3 player was installed for the dogs on one side, and she and her husband had to buy a second player for the cats. “When they play songs they like, they go and sit by the speakers,” Gunther said.

No one has studied the impact of Fisher’s specific music recipe. But others have looked at how music and noise in general affect animals. A 2012 Colorado State University study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior found that dogs were more likely to sleep and less likely to bark when Mozart, Beethoven and other classical artists were playing, but not when heavy metal, altered classical and other sounds were.

“It just de-stresses them. They are still happy and wiggly, they just aren’t barking,” explained Tania Huycke-Phillips, the foster and facilities coordinator at Bay Area Humane Society in Green Bay, Wisconsin. “Reducing stress shows off their personalities and they get adopted quicker,” she said.

The music also helps relax staff members and that benefits the animals too, said Fisher, who grew up singing and playing folk music on the guitar.
The project brought Fisher a new best friend, but it took a look, not a sound, to seal the deal. She was installing the music system at Summit County Animal Control in Akron, Ohio, in 2012 when a mutt named “Lili stole my heart with her glance.”


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