Humane Society of Sarasota County Unveils New Sensory & Enrichment Garden

Innovative garden to benefit and improve animal behavior and welfare

In an effort to continue the mission of finding a home for every adoptable pet in its care while focusing on saving the lives of cats and dogs, and enriching human lives along the way, the Humane Society of Sarasota County (HSSC) is proud to announce the addition of a new sensory and enrichment garden to the HSSC facility.

The garden, with key components intended to reduce stress for the shelter animals, is planned by staff to stimulate the HSSC residents’ senses, leading to more successful transitions to and from life in the shelter.

“We are able to provide shelter for animals, particularly dogs, in desperate need of help, however some of which find it hard to cope in kennels,” said Anna Gonce, executive director of the Humane Society of Sarasota County. “By activating all of a dog’s senses – touch, smell, sight, sound and taste – the sensory garden is designed to reduce stress and help them relax in their new surroundings.”

Thanks to the generous legacy of T. Ralph Taylor, Jr., a long-time supporter, the HSSC has finished the installation of the sensory garden, featuring an assortment of herbs and flowering plants, sand pits for digging, bridges and fountains, all designed to provide relaxation and reduce stress.

“We are incredibly grateful to Mr. Taylor, and the support of many local businesses, individuals and volunteers, including gifts in kind, for bringing this dream to fruition: this garden will enrich the lives of our animals with a 360-degree approach to animal behavior and welfare. We look for innovative ways to encourage natural behaviors that give our dogs constructive outlets for their anxious energy,” said Gonce. “A sensory garden is one of the best ways to ensure our dogs are getting all of the mental and physical stimulation they need to live a happy, healthy life. This will change the lives of dogs that come into our care and better prepare them for finding their loving, forever homes.”

HSSC volunteers involved in this project include Jackie Fountaine, Nicki Lawrence, Geraldine Myers, Jamie Hunt and HSSC teen volunteers. Mariposa Nursery in Bradenton & Your Farm and Garden in Sarasota supplied the plants and provided educational resources to continue the health and growth of the garden. 

About The Humane Society of Sarasota County

The Humane Society of Sarasota County is the area’s premier no-kill shelter and relies solely on private donations, bequests, and community support to continue its mission to engage the hearts, hands, and minds of the community to help animals. Programs offered include pet adoptions, humane education, pet therapy, a pet pantry, a volunteer program, and a full-service, low-cost animal clinic that is open to the public. For a list of hours, locations and to learn more information, visit


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