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Animal Shelter Blog 


No-Kill - Should My Animal Shelter Go for It?



No Kill – Should Our Shelter Go for It?

When the “No Kill” movement was introduced two decades ago it generated a great deal of controversy. Folks in animal welfare began taking sides for and against the concept and its claims and challenge to the industry as a whole.

The world has changed dramatically in the last several years and the “No Kill Blueprint”, articulated by Nathan Winograd in his seminal book “Redemption”, has been applied in animal shelters across the country with remarkable results.  We have assisted more and more groups dedicated to working toward the goal of saving every healthy companion animal in their care, and consistent application of the programs articulated in the “No Kill Blueprint” is the common denominator for achieving successful results.

We have witnessed success with organizations that have confidently declared themselves “No Kill” as well as organizations that have applied the “blueprint” quietly, without any formal declaration.  Results are usually positive in either case and once the community begins to realize success is at hand, a groundswell of support develops in a variety of forms – donations, volunteers, and governmental support. 

If a new shelter (or improvements to an existing shelter) is part of the community’s no kill strategy, animal shelter architects should incorporate specific building plans to match the community’s no kill vision.

More and more we are witnessing local government responding to the desire for improved conditions and outcomes.  Cooperation between humane and rescue groups working positively with animal control elevates the conversation, bringing about a more cooperative effort on behalf of the community’s stray companion animals.

Whether your organization adopts the “No Kill” moniker or not is less important than bringing to bear the strategies that ultimately produce results. After all, improving your animal shelter is less about the grand announcement that you plan to be a no kill, and more about improving the community and saving animals. 



Grand Opening - Transylvania County Animal Shelter 

What an exciting weekend at the grand opening of the new Transylvania County Animal Shelter. We had a great time working with local officials on the animal shelter design for this project. The animal shelter plans incoroporate natural light and allow for future expanison. It's truly amazing what a unified community can accomplish. 


Grand Opening of Transylvania County's Animal ShelterOverall view of the shelterBill Daggett, founder of Shelter Planners, with Lee Hunter, NC State Veterinarian


Finger Lakes SPCA - Bath, NY

Here are a few pictures of the kickoff party for the new animal shelter at Finger Lakes SPCA. Shelter Planners is thriled to be the animal shelter architect and design team for the project.



How to Finance an Animal Shelter – Two Viable Alternatives to Traditional Financing 

Animal Shelter Designed by Shelterplanners - Click for more pics

Animal shelters are such specific buildings.  They are designed to support the sheltering mission and as such necessarily include a host of supporting rooms, details, finishes and equipment that aren’t found in standard construction.  Every component is critical to proper animal care, however, and must be part of the design.

Unlike financing the construction of an office building or a retail center the animal shelter requires such specific spaces, details finishes and equipment that it is almost impossible to refit for any other use except maybe pet boarding and/or pet day care.   This makes conventional financing difficult and humane societies and SPCA’s usually find themselves facing the need to engage in a “capital campaign” to fund their proposed new shelter.  Successful capital campaigns take time, considerable up-front investment and a great deal of work by everyone involved.

There are opportunities for long term financing available in the right circumstances.  In most states, local government can qualify for long term “lease/purchase” financing for projects involved in “essential services” like fire stations, for instance.  Animal shelters also qualify when sheltering animals is mandated either by local or state ordinances.

So if your organization provides sheltering services under contract with your local jurisdiction, you may be able to take advantage of “lease purchase” financing.  You will have to encourage your jurisdiction to work with you and provide a long term contract or “backing” by co-signature that can support say a 20-25 year deal.  With that arrangement in hand, you can approach a private capital corporation that specializes in government finance.  You will still have to raise some funds, but only about 20% of the total cost.

So what if you don’t have a contract with your local government?  You can look to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for help.  The USDA’s rural development program can provide funding for shelters – we have participated in two successful efforts.  Like the scenario above, you will still have to raise a portion of the total funding, but the USDA’s interest rates and terms are far better than any commercial lender can offer and if you qualify you will have the funds necessary to build.



Community Saves 42 Animals from Euthanasia 

1 of 22 Cats Saved

Just when you think no one cares –

On Monday evening, July 22, WVIR ran a story about the crisis emerging at the Shenandoah Valley Animal Services Center.  The center had so many dogs and cats in the shelter they had run out of space and were facing having to decide which of their companion animals would have to be euthanized.

After learning of the dire situation, the staff at Shelterplanners decided to spend the day helping the community save animals!

The Shenandoah Valley in Virginia stretches from Winchester to Roanoke. Activities there are regularly covered via television broadcast to all of Central Virginia by WVIR, NBC 29 in Charlottesville some 30 miles East across the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Volunteers from the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA rose to the call and, drove 45 minutes across Afton Mountain to Lyndhurst, VA to see if they could provide some assistance – and it’s a good thing they did! 

Concerned citizens from not only the Valley but as far away as Culpeper inundated the Center with phone calls and personal visits volunteering to adopt dogs and cats to relieve the shelter’s distress. 

One volunteer transported 5 cats to the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA, a No Kill shelter – in all, 19 dogs, 22 cats and a bunny were adopted or transferred to foster homes and other shelters.

Overwhelmed by the response, the staff at the shelter could not keep up with the influx of calls as well as folks who simply arrived unannounced to adopt.  The volunteers from across the mountain helped the shelter staff by providing much needed aid with adoption paperwork, answering phones and helping introduce animals to their new families.

Not a single companion animal had to be euthanized!

How’s that for community involvement in animal welfare?