Pauly and Dolly race across the lawn like school kids at recess.

These and other canine playmates at the Clatsop County Animal Shelter can now enjoy a safe place to run and play, thanks to a cooperative effort by the county, volunteers and donors.

Construction was recently completed on a fenced grassy yard next to the shelter where dogs can get exercise while waiting to be adopted by loving homes. Donations to the shelter's enhancement fund paid for a tall chain-link fence surrounding the 50-square-foot yard and grass for a lawn. Clatsop Animal Assistance Inc., a private nonprofit group of volunteers, provided the topsoil.

The Clatsop County Animal Shelter Enhancement Fund is used to enhance adoptions of animals and for capital and other one-time improvements at the shelter. The Board of Commissioners reviews and approves expenditures. Donations to the enhancement fund are tax-deductible.

The fenced yard meets several needs, Animal Control Supervisor Stephen Hildreth said. The dogs can safely run off pent-up energy from being penned. Overweight dogs can get needed exercise to slim down. Staff and volunteers can train and work with the dogs off leash, making them more attractive to new homes.

The yard is also a good place to showcase the dogs to potential adopters, who can visit them in a more relaxed environment instead of barking and jumping in a kennel.

"People want a dog who can play, who can fetch and have a good time, and this way people can see the dogs as they really are," Hildreth said.

While Pauly enjoys the chance to frolic in the sun and nibble grass with a buddy, this easy-going pit bull-mix would really love a good, loving home, like his Newfoundland friend Dolly has.

Open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., the shelter is located at 1315 S.E. 19th St., Warrenton, across the street from the Oregon Youth Authority North Coast Juvenile Correctional Facility. For more information, call the shelter at 861-7387.