There are things I want to do now – that I’ve become passionate about. Things I wouldn’t have thought of in the same way before.
A better super glue cap – okay, that one I’ll leave to others but it’s the first thing coming to mind as I glue in my teeth for the day…
Onto the serious stuff:
Number One: True shelters that do not kill healthy or curable or treatable animals (rabies and unmanageable pain should be exceptions – with unmanageable defined as ‘we can’t make it stop’). The four types I see now are too limited: home shelters which are inherently limited by space and the person’s time/money; site shelters which have been put together from parts from Tractor Supply or Lowes – and have pretty much the same limiting factors although they can handle some animals a home shelter couldn’t; re-purposed shelters which use existing structures as their base and are limited by staff and donations as well as space, albeit to a lesser degree; site built shelters which are usually overbuilt, way too expensive for the number of animals they can house and try to be all things to all animals and fail.
Site built shelters are the only option for expansion capacity which is sorely lacking in the existing models. But build for animal housing, not people. I visited one that had been recently built, I’d guess for at least a million dollars although I think two is more like it. Two buildings connected by a walkway. Twenty foot ceilings in both – including the little kennel building. Hilarity ensues – no baffles, no sound proofing and twelve dogs – guess what does not work well? The cattery was worse – you could hear yourself think but all the cat toys, crates, scratching posts etc were on the floor, obviously store bought and below eye level of the viewing window. Giant viewing window – pretty large cat enclosure behind it – and the cats are all on the floor out of view.
Oh, it has nice kennels – indoor outdoor kind – and once they finish washing them down (water pressure, anyone?) and the dogs are outside, they even look okay, if you don’t mind the weird high ceilings and the GRAY everywhere. The cat viewing area is a great asset – that they are grossly misusing (hasn’t anyone heard of Pinterest? Seriously, there are some great designs you can reproduce inexpensively that will make that thing work!).
Several thousand cubic feet wasted on ridiculously high ceilings, a cramped floor plan that seemed to be determined to put little rooms every few feet for no apparent reason – oh, and it took ten years to get the thing built. Out of concrete block, of course.
Oh, and gray, let’s not forget that they painted the entire thing GRAY. Pick a color most likely to keep people from bringing their kids to pick out a new pet and gray would be it, followed by hospital white and everyone’s favorite olive drab. Making a shelter look like a death house DOES NOT help your adoption rate! ARGH!!!! This is SOOOOO NOT HOW YOU DO IT!
I did mention I get passionate, right?
So, what’s my idea? Site built shelters designed for animal management. You should NEVER design a kennel that involves carrying a bucket to water the dogs. Automate watering and have spigots (with water pressure) within just a few feet of the gate. In/out of fence hoppers so that you can feed without having to open gates (which invites rodeos you don’t need) and concrete surrounds so a cart can easily negotiate the entire kennel (feed smarter, not harder) – and don’t use tiny little runs that require constant cleaning.
Catteries that are self contained, have automated water (seriously, why do you want to have to keep watering all day long?), an integrated litter system (sand, baking soda and a good drain – cat litter is a waste of money outside the home), plenty of things to climb on, hide in, play with and a feeder well away from the potty. You can have colonies of up to sixty cats in a relatively small area – IF you design appropriately.
Sounds expensive? Sure – if you build like a people house. But dogs don’t care about twenty foot ceilings – they need food, water, a comfortable little house and a well shaded area – and room to romp. Large outdoor kennels are much less expensive to build even with the support systems I mentioned. And a heck of a lot more fun for Fido.
I saw a two story storage building in a Home Depot parking lot the other day. That’s probably overdoing it – but a storage building well shaded with a large contained porch costs a fraction of a concrete block structure and even with support systems is economical to build and maintain.
No one will want to come their to pick out their new pet, right? I agree – but the adoption center should NOT be onsite with the shelter. Adoption centers need to be warm, inviting, homelike so that people can mingle with animals and find the right one – shelters need to house animals so that they are comfortable and healthy until they can be adopted, too. Having sixty cats and forty dogs onsite is too many for adoption (too few for shelters) – it’s over load and a people won’t come. The adoption center should never have more than 15 to twenty animals onsite – and a little online coordination means that people can look through the entire inventory if they like! Found the perfect pup online? Make an appointment and he’ll be waiting to meet you at the adoption center.
Er, my short little bucket list got sideswiped by a treatise on animal shelters… Um, we’ll talk about the other two things I want to do tomorrow – same Bat time, same Bat channel!