VIDEO: See the ‘after’ in an amazing shelter makeover

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The final two days of our Rescue U trip at the City of Guthrie Animal Shelter in Oklahoma were a lot of work. Volunteers completed the outdoor cat enclosure, a metal storage building and the pergola over the new meet-and-greet pens we built earlier in the week. We put the finishing touches on the painting, the exercise pens and the roofs over the outdoor dog kennels. The brand new stainless steel cat cages we ordered arrived the final day and were installed.


Suzy Brown and a dog from the
City of Guthrie (OK) Animal Shelter

You could see the appreciation in shelter manager and animal control officer Suzy Brown’s eyes every time she saw another completed project. “To put it into one word: WOW,” she says. “It was amazing. There was immediate progress. It was like watching a movie on fast forward. Any time you take a cat or dog outside to play with them, it is so great, and with the new exercise areas, everyone gets yard time now.”

runs an amazing shelter where every animal is treated with love and compassion. We wanted to make sure we
left her with
tools to make her difficult job a little easier — such as the outdoor cat enclosure.

Cat enrichment in shelters is often
overlooked. People don’t always think cats can go
“kennel crazy” like dogs do, but it can be a serious problem that
substantially reduces a cat’s adoptability. The new cat “playground,”
with perching areas, toys and doorways that let the cats go inside or out at
their discretion, will provide enrichment and reduce stress, increasing the cats’ adoptability.

cat enclosure.jpg

The new outdoor cat “playground” reduces stress for the cats.

“It’s a progressive idea, and it gives people with
cats the idea to allow them outside while still keeping them enclosed,” Suzy says. “It’s huge to be
able to take them out of the box and give them some freedom.”

With all the money the City of Guthrie has spent to rebuild the shelter, Suzy was concerned about how much the shelter would have left for other necessities, such as veterinary care and food. So when we presented her with a check for $10,000 from The Animal Rescue Site, she was overcome with emotion. (She made me promise that I wouldn’t catch her crying on film. Animal control officers are supposed to be tough, I guess … well, we’ve got your number, Suzy Brown!)

What an amazing trip! The student volunteers worked hard way past dark most nights, in gusting winds and freezing temperatures, but always with the knowledge that it was so worth it. The community deserved it, Suzy and the rest of the shelter staff deserved it and, above all, the animals deserved it! As the pets begin to move back into the new shelter for the first time since that devastating tornado hit in May of 2011, we are thinking of Suzy and those who help find forever homes for all the pets in Guthrie, OK.


The new pergola over the meet-and- greet area provides a shaded spot for adopters to meet with dogs.

Special Thanks:
Thank you to all the fabulous people who helped feed the Rescue U volunteers. We ate like kings and queens thanks to donated meals from locals who heard about the project or saw it on the news.

Thank you to the ASPCA for coming down for a day to talk to the volunteers about disaster preparedness.

Also, thank you to the Best Western in Guthrie for the wonderful hospitality! Putting up with hungry, dirty college students isn’t always easy, but we certainly appreciate all you did for us!

Another great trip completed! Remember to follow Rescue U on Facebook for more news and updates!

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More about this trip:

VIDEO: In Oklahoma, a shattered shelter is transformed

VIDEO: College students rebuild a tornado-flattened animal shelter

Previous Rescue U trips:

A new quality of life for pets at a S. Carolina shelter

Fabulous Fabiola Beracasa lends a hand in S. Carolina