Building a New Shelter
American Humane Association
American Humane Association
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Going through the process of planning, designing, and constructing an animal shelter is like finding yourself at a high school punk rock concert. There's a lot of confusion, anxiety, turmoil, obscenities, and you're sure glad when the whole thing is over. And, at least in the case of building a shelter, your community is a better place for animals for your having suffered through it.
We go through this difficult process because, after all, the shelter we inherited had poor drainage, non-existent airflow, perpetually wet kennel runs, and it smelled like the public men's room at the Fulton Fish Market. No wonder this country's animal shelters only have a 14- percent market share for pet acquisition. No wonder shelter boards hold their monthly meetings at the Holiday Inn.
In the last 100 years or so in the United States, thousands of animal shelters have been built, used, destroyed, and replaced with new shelters. In many cases the new shelters were markedly better than the shelters they replaced. Too often, however, the replacement shelter was not much more than a bigger, freshly painted version of the previous one.
In the Beginning
All of this began a century ago when everything smelled like a men's room, and no one knew there could be anything better. Animal facitities were impoundment centers - thus 'pounds.' And they constituted the Phase One of animal shelters in the United States. They were little more than walled or fenced lots, where dozens of dogs were forced to fight for their food, if they were lucky enough to get any. Adoption programs were not in place, and the final outcome for these unlucky animals was death from drowning or gunshot.
Phase One shelters, in short, were horrible places, and public acceptance of them was predictable. It's no wonder dogcatchers were made into cartoon villains, and 'Pounds' were the subject of public scorn.
pounds' began as big
took well into the 20th century
It took us well into
the 20th century before we developed something better. The next phase of animal
shelters acknowledged that dogs (and, later, cats) deserved to be separated
from each other in individual runs or cages, fed, medically treated, and adopted
if possible. Humane standards for euthanasia were established. Phase Two shelters
are still being built today, and they operate to humanely house animals. They
do little, however, to accommodate the most abused and ignored animal in shelters
today: human beings.
We simply wouldn't
tolerate dogs and cats being treated the way we often treat humans in our facilities.
Dogs or cats may not have an appreciation of how a shelter looks, and they can't
associate the look of a shelter with a prison. But we know that the public can,
and does, make that comparison.
The Phase Two shelter is as exciting as the coat of lime-green paint that covers its endless cinder-block walls. Shelter executives who proudly proclaim that they designed their new shelters for the animals "and not for the people" don't understand that:
- It is people who adopt animals.
- It is people who contribute funds to solve problems.
- It is people who can make positive changes on behalf of animals.
Phase Three shelters
understand that both animals and people must be accommodated in positive ways.
It does not serve our mission - extending a humane message - if we ignore the
need to change how the public views our animal shelters. Without this necessary
shift in perception, we will continue to lose customers to pet stores and breeders.
And that directly translates into animal lives.
How many times have
we heard someone tell us that they won't visit the local shelter because it's
depressing, smelly, or sad? Phase Three shelters are designed to blow such images
out of the water. The San Francisco SPCA for a while offered free coffee or
cappuccino to visitors as they entered the lobby. The doggy apartments at the
SPCNs Maddie's Pet Center feature soft furniture and television sets. The Wisconsin
Humane Society has large cat apartments, where the cats luxuriate in carpeted
cat trees. The Oakland SPCA designed its new building to look like an attractive
shopping mall inside. Increasingly, shelters are recognizing that stainless
steel cages, while easy to clean, are ugly, uninteresting, and convey an image
of confinement that the public finds depressing.
But television sets? Dogs don't understand or interpret two-dimensional images the way humans do. So why bother? Because the animals that most value the efforts of placing TVs in doggy apartments are the humans. They probably know that television sets in dog runs are whimsy. It's theater, of course, but it's good theater. And it lets the public feel included and welcome at the shelter.
Think Different/Attract Money
But we're funny, we humane folk. We constantly cry out for new housing ideas, better drainage methods, and innovative designs because we want tomorrow's shelter to be a little better than the lousy one we inherited. And then, when shown a new or innovative idea that seems to work for another Shelter, our response is too often, "Well, they can do that because they have money." As I said, we're funny people.
The irony, of course, is that money comes to those who think in new and innovative ways. One sure-fire method to turn off potential donors is to tell them proudly, "We're doing the same things, the same way, as we've always done them." It is precisely our ability to change and innovate that will change the negative perception of animal shelters. And these new and innovative ideas will also attract major funders.
The other aspect to funding for new animals shelters is whether or not the project is one that helps solve the problems in animal welfare, or if it simply deals with the symptoms.
Taking animals off the street and putting them in cages solves nothing. While it provides a safe place for the animal, it does nothing to keep the problem from happening again. Sophisticated donors capable of making major gifts know the difference between putting a bandage on a problem and finding a cure.
A modern Phase Three shelter must be able to do more than warehouse animals, no matter how nice the accommodations or how many channels of cable television the cats get. Therefore, to attract the modern donor we must show that our organizations have a plan that goes beyond dealing with symptoms and includes programs that solve. Humane education, legislation, advocacy, spay/neuter, cruelty investigation, and behavior modification are programs that help keep animals from being homeless in the first place. Those types of programs should be included in the new plans along with the drains and the cages.
Phase Three shelters, like the San Francisco SPCA, blow the idea that shelters are depressing, smelly, and sad right out of the water.
Vision for Tomorrow
So what comes after Phase Three? How about valet parking and Jell-O shooters in the lobby? Free Tuesday night dance lessons from Ricky Martin with every adoption? Um, let's call that Phase Five.
Animal shelters are the last of the stand-alone specialty buildings.They have sat out there on the site of the old landfill or behind the county maintenance shack for too long. Phase Four shelters will recognize that in order for our services to be integrated into the fabric of our communities we must be IN our communities. And we had better offer more stuff more conveniently.
Just like the malls in the 1970s. Just like the Internet in the 1990s. The shelters of the 00s will accommodate an American public that wants convenience. We adopt the dog, but our adopter (our customer) has to go across town to the veterinarian, to another location for grooming, to another location for boarding, to another location for behavior training, and to yet another for feed and supplies. Why are we sending our customers to others? Why not keep them with us?
Phase Four shelters will be true animal welfare centers. The shelter itself will be operated by the humane agency, but the design of the building will allow the renting of space for a veterinary clinic, boarding facility, grooming shop, behavior trainer, and major retail outlet. If the humane agency wants, it can run some or all of these businesses, or it can draw profits from the rent by letting others lease the space.
In any case, the income for the shelter is baked into the design.This allows everyone - school kids with animal-oriented projects, potential adopters, someone with an injured cat, and the media - to know that there is ONE place to go to for their animal-related needs.
We're not talking here about cramming these other operations into your current design. We're not talking about the veterinarian sharing space in your exam room or having the humane education room do double duty as the behavior training classroom. We are talking about large and expensive buildings that require a lot of planning, commitment, and innovative ideas.
"But, nah, we couldn't raise the money here in our community for that. That idea will only work somewhere else. We don't really want anything too fancy. We just need a place to stick some animals in cages," the naysayers will say.
Should you hear these type of comments, go find a more motivated board of directors. Otherwise, it's back to Phase Two and a fresh coat of lime-green paint over cinder blocks.
Mr. Gilman is AHA's director of field services.
By Susan Kelley
In the humane world, a building boom is on, and that's a good thing. Organizations are enthusiastically razing run-down pre 1970 'pounds' and replacing them with modern shelters. These new facilities not only provide shelter for animals, they also offer veterinary clinics, education, dog training, and grooming. The focus is shifting from merely housing animals to keeping them in the home.
There's just one problem.
"We're seeing organizations make mistakes - very costly mistakes," says Connie Howard, director of shelter programs for the American Humane Association (AHA). Organizations are building too small, forgetting critical design elements, and raising too little money. "What we want to say is, listen guys, there's homework to be done first."
Each of the following agencies - one small, one large, one retrofit-did its homework. They looked at community needs and planned for the future. Equally important, they made their shelters a nicer place to be - not only for the animals, employees, and volunteers, but also for potential adopters.
New Life for a Small Shelter
The Faxon Animal Rescue League of Greater Fall River runs a small shelter. Prior to 1995, it was an old one as well. Then known as the Animal Rescue League of Fall River, in Fall River, Massachusetts, its compound consisted of four small buildings. The oldest was built in 1914. How would Executive Director Michele Bailey describe them?
"In a word, she says, "dismal."
As volunteer coordinator, Bailey saw the league go through the growing pains of constructing a new shelter in 1995. Four years later, and now executive director, she has also seen the benefits. "The new building made a world of difference," she says.
Prior to 1995, the league never had the money to properly maintain the buildings. The wood held animal odors, and a lack of lighting made it grim. "People said it really stunk. It was like a dungeon," Bailey says. The problems extended beyond aesthetics. Worn linoleum floors and wood walls were difficult to keep sanitary.
And because services were spread among four buildings, efficiency was compromised. Staff had to take visitors from one building to another to show them animals. "We had the washing machine in one building and the dryer in the other, so even doing the laundry was a major headache." The facilities also lacked a single room for volunteers, Bailey says. "If volunteers wanted to groom the animals or spend time with the cats ... they had to share somebody's office area."
By the early 1990s, a leaking roof forced the board of directors and previous executive director to make a critical decision: close the shelter permanently or construct a new building.
As part of its new facility, Faxon Animal Rescue League expanded its low-cost spay/neuter clinic-providing critical services in an area where the average per capita income is $10,000 a year.
Although the shelter was small, routinely handling 11 dogs, 20 cats, and 10 small animals, at the time it played a crucial role as the communitys only shelter. Moreover, it also ran the region's only low cost spay/neuter clinic-a critical service in an area where the average per capita income is $10,000 per year.
The demand for services convinced the league that a new shelter was worth it, so they embarked on a three-year, $500,000 capital campaign. They had reached the two-thirds mark, thanks to $10 and$25 donations from community businesses and individuals, when Raymond Faxon, a wealthy animal lover, gave a six-figure donation that helped complete the capital campaign. In thanks, the league named its new building after him.
Because of its unique services, the league stayed open when construction began in March 1995. All shelter operations moved into two buildings, while the other two buildings were razed. The new building was then constructed on that site.
However, the league had to cut back services, refraining from accepting new volunteers and reducing the number of animals housed. Bailey remembers, "It was crazy to try to find room to do anything, but we knew it was a short-term thing. We just kept telling ourselves, 'It's temporary. It's temporary."'
Although the new
building, completed in September 1995, only slightly increased the league's
square footage, they make better use of space. This new facility has also dramatically
improved the league's ability to recruit and retain volunteers. "The building
being cleaner and more pleasant and having more space for them to work, I think
it did have a big impact in attracting more volunteers," says Bailey. Volunteers
have more than doubled, from 10-20 to 40-50.
The new buildings plans also allowed the league to expand its spay/neuter clinic into an in-house clinic in 1998. Future plans include a dog-training center. Those services contribute to the league's mission of reducing overpopulation. "If you can help somebody keep their pet - whether it's with low-cost veterinary care, with low-cost spay/neuter, obedience training," Bailey says, "chances are good that they will keep that pet for its lifetime."
The Nebraska Humane Society is converting an old 65,000-square-foot grocery store into its new facility. The store, on three acres of land, is right next to their current location, so they get the benefit of a new building and the same location.
The Benefits of Retrofit
There were a lot of things Nebraska Humane Society (NHS) in Omaha, Nebraska, didn't like about its 1968 facility, and they all pointed to one conclusion: the building was failing down.
The air conditioning system did not exchange air- a real problem in a 21,000-square-foot building that houses 250 animals. "It has been band-aided and held together with baling twine and wire for 15 years," says David Carbaugh, director of operations. There was no natural light. And only raw surfaces remained on the floors and walls that came into contact with animals.
Moreover, the facility lacked adequate space for the 20,000 animals it handles each year, half of which are from their animal control contract with the city. Those animals stay longer in the shelter than other animals. For example, dogs in for rabies observation stay 10 days.
One dog has been
waiting for 18 months for a court appeal. "I have an entire kennel of pit
bulls right now from drug raids and pit bull fighting," Carbaugh says.
"So that sort of thing really fills up the building in a hurry."
But there was one thing that the NHS did like about its facility: its location on eight acres of spacious floodplain bordering Papio Creek, where dogs can exercise and the NSH holds agility trials and fundraising events. So when long-time board member Marge Durham proposed a new building in 1992, the NHS wanted to keep its current location, Carbaugh says, "in the worst way."
Luckily, the NHS found the perfect solution right next door: an eight-year-old supermarket that had been unoccupied for about five years. Purchase of the building would give the NHS three more acres, HVAC units in good condition, and a 65,000- square-foot chance to double its capacity for animals, from 250 to 500. And the city would still know where to find them. "So when we first started looking into it, "Carbaugh says, "we decided that, best-case scenario, that's where we would end up."
"If you think about it, every animal that leaves the shelter has to leave with a person," Carbaugh says. "And if people are standing around plugging their ears and noses, they're not going to stick around very long to look at the animals.
The building is scheduled to open in January 2000. However, the retrofit did pose some design problems, as they tried to fit everything they wanted into a pre-established shape and limited space. But those limits had an upside: they set parameters, Carbaugh says. "Otherwise, we probably would've wound up with a million-square-foot building."
The first step in the design process involved Carbaugh and Varner visiting about 20 shelters around the country to see first-hand what worked and what didn't. For example, Carbaugh initially wanted an individual drain system, as opposed to a trench drains, which often run in front of kennels where people can step in them.
But the individual drain systems that he saw in action didn't address the problem of disposing of solids. "Do you physically walk through every run and pick up the solids? Do you hope it goes through the drain?" Having learned a lesson, the NHS went instead with a T-Kennel trench drain system, named for the t-shaped metal cover that keeps feces away from animals, workers, and the public.
In the acoustics department, they sidestepped the ineffective baffles that many shelters have and asked an acoustical engineer to find a solution that was both cleanable and sound absorbent. The result: a 24-feet ceiling with acoustical tiles at 12 feet. The sound shoots up to the ceiling and then dissipates between 12 and 24 feet, before it can ricochet down into the room.
The issues of ventilation and acoustics were crucial, and not just for the animals. "If you think about it, every animal that leaves the shelter has to leave with a person," Carbaugh says. "And if people are standing around plugging their ears and noses, they're not going to stick around very long to look at the animals. If they're comfortable, and the acoustics are comfortable, then they'll stay, and they'll take your animals home."
a New Shelter?
If you're planning to build a new shelter, visit other shelters first. The cost of flying around the country may seem like a luxury that your budget simply won't allow, but the expense will save your organization money in the long run.
Visits to 20 shelters helped David Carbough, director of operations at the Nebraska Humane Society (NHS), see for himself what works and what doesn't, as the NHS prepared to retrofit its new shelter in an old grocery store.
"I had a lot of preconceived ideas and saw them put to use and actually changed my mind on just about everything I thought I wanted," Carbaugh says. "The expense that it took was probably saved in just one mistake that we would have made."
Although she's a 20-year humane veteran, when Lorraine Houston visited the Hamilton SPCA in Hamilton, Ontario, she was surprised to learn that the new building had created a false perception in the community that the SPCA was financially well off, In fact, they've had to renew efforts to convey their financial needs, And conversations with staff reconfirmed her conviction that communication between the architect and staff is imperative. 'The architect is more worried about making it appealing, The design, to them, is more important than the function," she says.
Consider visiting other animal-oriented facilities, suggests Sharon Harmon, executive director of the Oregon Humane Society (OHS). "They have a slightly different take," she says. " I can tell you, at a research facility, they know how to keep that thing clean.... The veterinary hospital knows how you're going to deal with animals that are in compromised situations," Look at people-oriented facilities, like auditoriums, as well, she says. "You've got to think outside the box."
The visits gave the NHS team the knowledge that later shaped their active role throughout construction, Carbough says. "We had our opinions, and we had seen a lot of things, and decided that we wanted to hang onto the reigns a little bit, and guide where it went."
For help selecting other agencies to visit, call AHA at 800-227-4645. We can direct you to shelters whose budget and capacity are comparable to yours.
An Update for Portland
When Sharon Harmon walked into the Oregon Human Societys (OHS) art deco building in 1989, she stepped back in time. The 1939 building was more like a warehouse than shelter, designed to keep dogs neither sane nor healthy. One long aisle ran down the center, flanked by kennels on either side.
"It was like running the gauntlet. If the dogs got excited about something, like taking a dog out of a kennel, they'd all go crazy. So you had 65 kennels of dogs barking, flipping water bowls over. If you were a small child, you'd be terrified."
Now executive director,
Harmon is overseeing a $5.9 million construction of a 44,000-square-foot building
in Portland, which will more than double the size of the current 17,000-squarefoot
facility. It will be completed in June 2000, but it is already making the animals
healthier and clients happier.
In the old building, nose-to-nose contact spread disease. Guillotine doors let in Portland's chilling East Wind during the winter and flies in the summer. Theft was a problem. The electrical system was so under-powered that staff had to choose between lights and a fan. When somebody flushed a toilet, hose pressure went down. They cleaned the kennels with cold water, which Harmon says "is like trying to do a greasy lasagna pan without soap or a sponge." Moreover, the shelter was designed to hold only 4,000 animals a year, almost three times less than OHS's annual count of 14,000.
The Hamilton SPCA in Canada doesn't look at all like a'traditional'animal shelter. Stunning designs are great, but make sure it is also functional. Sometimes architects will choose style over function, so shelter staff and leadership must keep them on track.
In the new building, dogs face away from each other, although many colleagues said other layouts would work just fine. "I tell you, that has never been my experience," Harmon says. "When we moved in here November lst, 20 minutes after moving 65 dogs into the shelter, everybody was quiet." In fact, the animals were so quiet that at first she thought they were sick.
A new laminar air handling system, based on those used in hospital operating rooms, achieves 14 to 16 air exchanges an hour. Although the $1.6 million system accounts for a whopping 25 percent of the construction budget, Harmon says the cost is worth keeping odors at bay.
"All it takes is one pile of dog poop to make a family cover their nose and run away. And you just hate that. You see kids coming out with hands over their ears, their mom's got her coat pulled over her nose, and you think, 'Oh, we have failed. That client is never going to come back,"' she says.
Other design features include natural light, four internal courtyards, and a Stonehard epoxy floor that can withstand the force of the new washing system that blasts 140-degree water out at 1,000 pounds per square inch. Four wash stations can be operated at once, Harmon says. "That means I can be done cleaning kennels in half an hour." The pressure washer, and an automatic watering system, saved the full-time equivalent of one staff person. And a new auditorium will increase education space by 500 percent.
But before these miracles fully kick in, OSH must endure the headaches of a two-phase construction, begun in February 1999 on an empty lot next door. While it allows OHS to keep services running, it means doing so out of two buildings. Dogs are received in one building, and kennels are in another. Some services, such as the retail store, are duplicated, all of which is hard on staff.
But OHS felt that the benefit of uninterrupted services outweighed the cost. OHS serves more than one-third of Oregon's population of 3 million. And two of the three counties in the Portland metro area do not serve cats, so OHS tends to get the bulk-10,000 cats a year, half of which are strays.
But bigger is not necessarily better, unless you can get more animals into more homes.
Eventually the new space will include 83 kennels for adoptions, up from 65 in the old building, as well as 30 kennels for rehabilitation and isolation. Capacity for cats has almost doubled, from 160 cats in the old building to 300 in the new.
But bigger is not necessarily better, Harmon says, unless you can get more animals into more homes. The new building, although incomplete, is helping OHS accomplish that goal. "The dogs are quiet, and the animals are healthy," Harmon says. "And when clients walk in. and they ooh and aah, you know you've done your job."
The new Oregon Humane Society (under construction) features natural lighting, four internal courtyards, and a Stonehard epoxy floor that can withstand the force of the new washing system that blasts 140-degree water out at 1,000 pounds per square inch.
Ms. Kelley is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado.
|As AHA's director of field services, I have been helping local agencies with the animal shelter planning and design process for over eight years. In that time, I have visited and consulted with dozens of humane organizations in various stages of their projects. Along the way, I have noticed that there are few, if any, shortcuts to building a successful shelter. There are, however, some key steps that organizations sometimes miss in their rush to complete the project leading to expensive or disastrous mistakes.|
An animal shelter has many beginnings. The first time someone proposes the idea of a new shelter, the first draft by the architect, the day the first animal is safely housed within its walls are all beginnings for a new facility. Along the way, however, are several key steps that, if omitted altogether, may result in the project taking longer than necessary or resulting in a facility that doesn't meet the needs of the staff or the animals in their care.
Key Step #1:
In order for a large project like the construction of a new animal shelter to be successful, the major players in the organization must agree on some basic issues. It is not enough to simply come to a decision. Instead, you must truly commit as a group to representing the project to the public with one voice. There have been a number of humane organizations that have scared away potentially large donations due to what the donor considered in-fighting and conflict. "How could I have believed that they were going to spend my gift responsibly when they couldn't even agree on how it was to be spent?" They must walk away money and wonder.
There have been a number of humane organizations that have scared away potentially large donations due to what the donor considered in-fighting and conflict.
People will disagree with one-another on any number of important topic areas in the long and complex process of shelter design and construction: What site shall we select? How many dog runs and cat cages should we make room for? Should there be a spay/neuter clinic built into the facility? All of these are important decisions. However, once the organization makes a decision on any matter, everyone should commit to it. Period.
Key Step #2:
Think Big, Think Different, Think Exciting
Avoid the crucial
mistake of thinking that the community won't support more than a simple shelter.
In fact, it may be easier to raise more money for a shelter that costs a little
more but solves more problems than it is to fund a bare-bones facility. If the
organization gets excited
by what a new facility will do for them, so will the supporters.
Key Step #3:
The Conceptual Drawings
Some money needs to be spent in order to find more money. Conceptual drawings are artist's renderings that graphically illustrate what the new building will look like when complete. They allow potential donors, to understand the size and scope of the completed project and to see how animals will be positively affected.
A typical set of artist's renderings for a new animal shelter might include a color illustration of an exterior view, illustrations of lobby interior, and views of animal care areas.
However, in order for artists to have enough information to begin the process, they would have to know from the architect roughly how large the facility will be and what kind of design the architect has planned for the interior. It is not necessary for the technical drawings to be complete before the renderings are done. In fact, it helps to have the conceptual drawings in hand to show potential supporters before the technical drawings are started.
Key Step #4:
A Proximity Chart
Shelter administrators are often frustrated architects. Instead of providing the architect with information necessary to begin the technical drawings, shelter administrators often try to take a short cut and design the shelter themselves. Shelter design is not the strong suit of a shelter administrator. The best way for a shelter administrator, staff, and other interested parties to have input on how the shelter is designed is to engage in a three-step process that ends in the development of a proximity chart.
The first step is
to make a detailed list of every room the shelter is going to need. Be specific:
a spay/neuter clinic is not one room, but perhaps four or five. List these individual
rooms separately. Include the front-line staff as well as senior staff in the
development of this list. No room is too small, no function too insignificant
or too obvious to include in the list.
Instead of providing the architect with information necessary to begin the technical drawings, shelter administrators often try to take a short cut and design the shelter themselves.
The second step is to assign space values to each of the rooms identified. Err on the side of making the rooms too big. You can always cut back later, but sometimes it's tough to add more space later on. Don't worry at all about specific room dimensions, but instead decide on overall square footage.
The final step in developing a proximity chart is to assign which rooms are located next to others. For example, a shelter would probably want to have its office storage closet located near its offices. On the other hand, the rabies quarantine area should not be located off the public lobby. On a large marker board, you can design the basic flow of the shelter by listing rooms and drawing short lines to the rooms that should be closest to them. This process can be a fun brainteaser as you try to figure out how to place rooms in a logical sequence. Remember, you don't want sick cats being brought past the adoptable cat areas, so the proximity chart would show that Cat Isolation and Cat Adoption are not near each other.
Have fun! Use up a lot of dry-erase markers. This process is as close to floor plan design as the staff is going to get. In fact, the architect will take the final proximity chart and make a floor plan from it.
Key Step #5:
The air that animals, the staff, and the public breathe is critical to the safety and the experience shared by all three. In a smelly shelter that has poor airflow and filtration, disease will spread more readily among the animals. Plus, the staff and the public will be uncomfortable.
One issue to airflow
is the rate of circulation, or exchanges per hour. AHA recommends that air in
animal handling areas be exchanged 12 to 15 times per hour. This allows fresh
air or filtered (recycled) air to be introduced at a fairly rapid rate. During
the part of the day when there's a lot of moisture inside the kennel runs, such
as after cleaning, you may want to have the highest possible air exchange. At
night, however, you might want to save on your utility bills by lowering the
air exchanges so that you don't heat or cool the great outdoors. Ask your architect
to specify a system that allows you to control air exchanges.
Another issue is filtration. There are electrostatic filters, ultra-violet filters, charcoal filters, high-efficiency particulate accumulator (HEPA) filters, and more. Talk to your architect's engineers to determine what filters are right for which rooms. For example, charcoal filters do nothing more than remove odors from the air. That may be important, but in and of itself, will not make the shelter a healthier place to house animals. For example, some types of filters work better on cat diseases (ultra-violet) than others.
Finally, make sure that the air-returns do not return contaminated air to rooms with healthy animals. Your architect should be informed of the dangers of air returns that send air from the isolation area into the adoption area. Don't assume that he or she will automatically know which animals can share air and which can't.
Key Step #6: Flooring Surfaces
The single biggest mistake in the choice of floorings is in surface texturing. Any kennel attendant would tell you that it's easier to pick up animal waste from a smooth floor than a gritty, cracked, or textured surface.
Fortunately, epoxy-resin poured floors, the most common flooring surface in shelters today, are slip-resistant even when wet. They were developed in part to coat naval warship decks. Thus, they had to be tough, resistant to oils and chemicals, and not be too slippery when wet.
General contractors may not know all of the history behind epoxy-resin floors and may ask you whether you want to make the floor even more slip-resistant. If you say "yes" to this, be careful. To the contractor, this may simply mean adding sand or other aggregate into the mix. Once that happens, you end up with a very expensive floor that your kennel attendants will tell you is almost impossible to clean.
There are a number
of new innovative flooring systems-stone, epoxy, anti-microbial, shell sealers.
Any of these, or combinations of them, may be fine for your purposes. But remember
that if the floor isn't easy to clean, it's not doing its job.
By Cathy M. Rosenthal
Most of us start a project at the beginning. However, we should actually start at the end. The Humane Society at Lollypop Farm in Rochester, New York, has developed a special gift in 'backward thinking,' and it is helping them raise accountability and achieve goals.
A few years ago, the Humane Society at Lollypop Farm partnered with the United Way of America, the Rochester Grant Makers Forum, and 30 other area nonprofit groups to form the Rochester Effectiveness Partnership. The partnership trains nonprofit agencies to evaluate programs and services to better achieve desired goals.
The concept, borrowed from Stephen Coveys book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, helps you identify various objectives and develop a process to meet certain goals. Through this approach, the focus shifts from activities to results - from how a program operates to the good that it actually accomplishes.
Through this approach, the focus shifts from activities to results.
"Historically, we have always counted things, like we had 100 visitors today, or we visited 300 kids this month, but that's all we did," says Alice Calabrese, director of community affairs at Lollypop Farm. "That information didn't tell us anything about a programs effectiveness. We want to know how our programs change or affect behavior. We have to ask ourselves, 'Where do we want to end up with this program,' instead of just saying, 'This is a good thing to do, let's go do it."'
Constructing a Logic Model
Toward that end, the Humane Society at Lollypop Farm spent the next two years working with the Rochester Effectiveness Partnership to learn how to develop a 'logic model.' A logic model links performance to goals by identifying and communicating various inputs, activities, and outcomes. The decision-making process for new programs or services begins with the following questions:
Inputs: What kinds of resources, such as money, expertise, staff or volunteers, supplies, or facilities are required to accomplish the task? Are inputs sufficient to accomplish the projected activities? Will the budget support these goals?
Activities: How does the program use inputs to fulfill its mission, strategies, or service delivery? Are proposed activities comprehensive, structured, and integrated to produce results? Is staffing sufficient? Is the activity sufficient to achieve the outcome?
Outcomes: What behaviors, skills, knowledge, or attitudes change during or after participation in programs? Does it represent meaningful change for participants? Does it serve your mission? What does the outcome look like? How will you know when it has happened?
Armed with this new way of thinking, the agency examined its program that educates people on the link between animal cruelty and other violence. The humane society decided its goal was to create an awareness of the connection of violence to animals and people and to teach various segments of the population how to recognize signs of abuse (outcome). They decided one way to accomplish this was says by hosting a seminar (activity). They then looked at whether the agency had the staff time, resources, funding, and expertise to host such a meeting (inputs).
The agency also wanted to know if the seminar participants experienced a change in knowledge, attitudes, or behavior (outcome), so they developed surveys (activity) to be given before and after the seminar. (Merely attending a seminar or workshop would not be considered an outcome.) They also had to decide whether they had the expertise and resources (input) to develop the survey.
"We learned there was a sense of movement from what participants knew before the class to what they had learned after the class," says Calabrese.
Using this strategy, the agency set its goal and developed ways to determine whether or not the goal was met. On the first try, the process was effective. In reviewing the surveys from the seminar, "we learned there was a sense of movement from what participants knew before the class to what they had learned after the class," says Calabrese. Before the class, only 46 percent said they had seen animal cruelty or understood the link between violence to animals and people. After the class, more than 80 percent said yes to the same survey question.
Not all results, however, will be as forthcoming. Programs may have to be revamped of thinking that may help you deter to achieve desired goals. For example, if you discover that your pet visits to nursing homes are not benefiting the residents, don't ditch the program. Examine the variables that might affect this dissatisfaction and make the necessary changes-but only if those changes are in line with your mission. Ask yourself if it could be just one unhappy nursing home? Or could it be a problem with the volunteers you are sending? What about the type and size of animals selected? Are you visiting at a bad time of the day for the residents? Are the people expecting something you weren't planning to deliver?
Hard Work Pays Off
While developing a logic model is not difficult, it is time-consuming. The process requires planning and commitment to get your agency objectives and goals on paper. Still, the Humane Society at Lollypop Farm feels it is worth it. The strategy has given them more credibility and visibility and helps legitimize their role in the community.
It's No 'Field of Dreams'
"If you build it, they will come" may be an idea that works well in the movies, but it should never be a motto for a new shelter or renovation project. Guessing what your agency needs or what the community wants might leave you with more building than you require or with a facility too small for your growing programs and services.
One way to sidestep such pitfalls is to think ahead- or as the Humane Society at Lollypop Farm puts it, "begin with the end in mind." The humane society describes a process mine not only what your agency might need in the way of physical space, but also how that space might best serve your needs.
the logic model's categories of inputs, activities, and outcomes, let's
look at how this thought process might apply to adding a multipurpose
I -Outcomes: Setting Your Goals
2-Activities: Determining Your
3-Inputs: Analyzing Your Resources