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Coffee Break: Designing a New Animal Shelter

For this issue’s Coffee Break, we asked you what features you would include if you were building a new animal shelter, and why you think they’re important for your community’s pets. You responded with a variety of elements that you feel are important in a modern, progressive animal facility: a “senior citizen center” for older pets, an indoor walking track for volunteer dog walkers, a maternity ward for newborns and their nursing mothers, and more great ideas.

  • Taj Mahal


A senior citizen center, where older and special-needs dogs can have one-on-one time with a volunteer, get a massage, a brushing, a 15-20 minute soft-word session, cuddle time away from all other dogs, crowds, staring people, crashing cages, and water puddles. Maybe it could be nice and soundproof, with an inexpensive sound machine. I have one I paid $20 for; it emits sounds like waves, chirping birds, whatever calms my dogs down. One of my dogs especially likes Bach. I developed a spa at home, and to this day, each of my dogs gets special time each day with me, whether it’s brush time, cuddle time, or alone time. It works wonders, and they each sleep like babies as a result. Remember, it’s the little things. They need all the love we can give them in their short lives.

Ellen Tuttle, volunteer dog groomer, City of Tallahassee Animal Service Center, Tallahassee, Florida

We are actually in the design phase of a new shelter right now, and a few things that we wanted to make sure we included were multiple, separate ventilation areas; outside runs for all dog areas, including isolation and rehab; natural light; and lots of storage space. We even tipped the bucket more, and included a maternity ward for cats and dogs. We can’t wait to start building a better future for these animals!

Rachel Dennis, assistant director, Humane Society of Elkhart County, Bristol, Indiana

To see and respond to the latest Coffee Break question, go to

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