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Shelter design

As you strive to create a state-of-the-art animal shelter, take time to assess your community’s growth rate as well as your shelter’s animal data and programs to help determine your future needs. Read stories from shelters that have maximized their space and begin plans for your own shelter facility, whether you're retrofitting to maximize your current capacity or starting from scratch.

  • Making the shelter a happier place for animals

    We all want the animals in our care to be as healthy and happy as possible. To accomplish this, we must attend to both their physical and emotional needs. We protect the animals’ physical health through routine vaccination, parasite control, proper nutrition, spay/neuter and other basic medical care. We create a healthy environment for them—one that is clean and well-maintained, not crowded, kept at a comfortable temperature and with good air quality.

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  • Design for living

    Today’s animal shelters must meet a variety of needs: They’re expected to look like a shopping center and perform like a hospital, all while remaining a secure facility. They need to be functional, but also welcoming. They need to be welcoming, but not seem so extravagant they’ll make donors or taxpayers wonder where their money is going. They need to showcase adoptable pets in a friendly and appealing way, but also provide safe, secure space for animals who may be quarantined for health or behavior reasons.

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Most recent Tools and Resources > Shelter design

  • Blog Post

    Are they getting the care they deserve?

    Using the Five Freedoms to ensure quality of life for animals in our care

    In my days working in a shelter, when I turned out the lights and left at the end of the day, I would ask myself one very important question: “Did I give each and every animal the best possible care today?” 

    I’m guessing you do the same. But how can we be certain? How do we know for sure that any animal is living a good quality life, let alone an animal living in a shelter environment? The answer lies in something called “The Five Freedoms.”

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  • Blog Post

    Finding sanctuary

    Can sanctuaries be a tool in our cat toolbox? An expert shares five top tips.

    From the outside looking in, managing the Lanai Cat Sanctuary sure looks easy. Erect a fence, construct some shelter, landscape, open the doors and call it kitty paradise. Not a month goes by that someone doesn’t ask me: “How do you set one up? I want to do this in my community.” The truth is that animal sheltering is complex, costly and requires expertise in a wide spectrum of disciplines including shelter and herd health management and medicine, nonprofit leadership, fundraising and animal welfare. It’s not as easy as it looks.

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  • Magazine Article

    A room with a view

    A Good Mews Animal Foundation resident checks out a chipmunk.

    Cage-free cat shelter and wildlife habitat peacefully coexist in Georgia

    What do you get when you mix a cat shelter, a barren yard and eager volunteers with green thumbs? A wildlife habitat certified by the National Wildlife Federation—or, as community outreach chair Lisa Bass of Good Mews Animal Foundation in Marietta, Georgia, calls it, a “big-screen kitty TV.”

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  • Magazine Article

    Baby love

    Kitten nurseries often specialize in caring for unweaned kittens (commonly referred to as “bottle babies” or “neonates”) who need to be hand fed.

    In its new kitten nursery manual, the National Kitten Coalition provides an in-depth look at innovative solutions for kittens who need extra time and care

    For shelter workers and rescue volunteers around the country, spring can seem the cruelest season. That’s when kitten intakes typically peak.

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  • Magazine Article

    Plumbing the depths

    Shelter drainage systems vary, but they’re key to keeping your shelter clean and your animals healthy

    Shelter work isn’t all sweet puppy kisses and kitten nuzzles. What goes in one end of our furry charges eventually comes out the other, and a well-functioning drainage system is essential if you hope to minimize odors and control the spread of disease at your facility. But there’s more to shelter drains than meets the eye: Which types of drains are best for you, and where should you put them? Our “101” explores what you ought to consider before taking the plunge.

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  • Magazine Article

    Does that tabby come in a size 8?

    This grey tabby didn’t stick around for long—the woman who brought her to the Arizona Humane Society as a stray decided to make her a permanent family member.

    Allison Summerday’s living room and car are full of shoeboxes, but the Arizona Humane Society (AHS) volunteer couldn’t care less about Jimmy Choos. In November 2014, a fellow volunteer brought a single shoebox into the shelter. “I thought, ‘We need shoeboxes for every kitten and cat!’” says Summerday. “I just sort of went on overdrive.”

    Summerday approached several shoe stores and explained her mission. Although not one shoe store turned her away, she now works with just one, Wholesale Fashion Shoes, which was “the most jazzed about it,” she says.

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