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Animal Shelter Blog 


Why Building a New Animal Shelter Alone Won't Save More Animals


Simply stated, we can’t build our way out of shelter overcrowding.

Sure enough, a properly sized, well designed, and well planned animal shelter is essential to maintaining healthy animals and can contribute to some extent to increased adoption rates.  All of our newly designed shelters have, but long term adoption success requires a great deal more.

Animal welfare organizations that have implemented the array of programs originally put forth by the No Kill movement have experienced significant advances in their animal save rates.  No longer a controversial set of guidelines as they were when first introduced, engaging the community in the “animal rescue mission”; investing in low cost spay neuter; partnering with rescue groups; implementing “TNR” of feral cats; promoting comprehensive adoption programs and fiercely defending the life of every animal in the shelter are now proven components of success.

We have clients looking to build new shelters that are already experiencing save rates above 90% for all of their sheltered animals – all in an older shelter in dire need of more space – consistently reminding me and the Shelterplanners’ team; it’s all about the programs, stupid!

A new animal shelter provides an attractive, stable platform from which your organization can successfully implement programs that will accomplish the goal of saving every healthy companion animal in your care.  The well designed shelter provides you with a bright, cheery, healthy environment that attracts potential adopters - but without the essential programs to keep those adoptions on track, it will be quickly overrun.


Affordable Animal Shelters for Your Community

Save Money on Animal Shelter Design Fees

Shelterplanners created pre-designed models that save communities THOUSANDS of dollars in design fees.  Why spend money for unnecessary design fees? Save the money to save more animals!  After creating a customized Needs Assessment for your animal shelter, you select one of our pre-designed models based on your CURRENT needs.  There’s absolutely no reason to waste money on building an animal shelter that’s too big for your current needs.  SAVE MONEY!

Shelterplanners then customizes the model to meet your needs.

Animal Shelter Designed and Constructed for Growth

When it’s necessary to expand your animal shelter, you will save THOUSANDS on the construction and design cost of the expansion.  How? Your new animal shelter is designed with future expansion in mind.  There’s no reason you should pay hefty construction costs and design fees when it’s time to expand.  

Please contact us today to see how your local animal shelter can improve its current shelter conditions.  Improving your animal shelter's appearance and conditions is directly linked to an increase in adoption rates.

Together we can: Save Time. Save Money. Save Animals. 


Does Your Animal Shelter Have a Customized Plan to Improve Conditions?

“ worked closely with me and my staff, developing a study that analyzed our situation and accurately predicted the size and scope of our new shelter.  The resulting layout includes everything we wanted to achieve.  The design has given us the exciting vision we needed to launch our capital campaign.” 

Gina West, Director

Lewis & Clark Humane Society

Helena, MT


It’s difficult to think about a plan when you’re busy trying to care for and save the animals at your animal shelter. However, we sincerely hope you have a specific plan and measurable goals to improve your current conditions.  How can you clearly communicate your mission and vision to potential donors and your community without a customized plan?

We know you are extremely busy and you likely don’t have the resources to create a blueprint for the future of your shelter.  That’s why we created a Needs Assessment Study.


The Needs Assessment Study provides the following: 

  • Proposed shelter size  based on animal intake statistics
  • Proposed shelter size for the future: 10-year and 20-year projections calculated
  • A detailed description of sizing and space needed to house and support the animals you serve. Also provides description and size for every space needed for your staff and volunteers to properly care for the animals
  • A cost range projection based on recently constructed animal shelters


This in-depth report is customized to your shelter’s specific mission and vision.  The report will allow the shelter director to easily communicate not only the mission/vision but also the capital requirements to the community and local government.  It’s one of the first steps to transforming your animal shelter.

Make time to create your plan with Shelterplanners.  We have all the tools necessary!  If you would like more information about the Needs Assessment Study, please contact us: or 434-971-8848. Together we can: Save Time. Save Money. Save Animals!


How to Quickly Improve Your Animal Shelter on a Limited Budget

You Don't Have to Build a Mansion! 

The staff and volunteers at struggling animal shelters believe building a new animal shelter is a pipe dream. They have solid reasoning for this incorrect assumption: their city or county slashed the budget for animal welfare; they simply don’t have the resources and time to create and execute a solid long-term plan; and they continue to think the old-fashioned way: We MUST raise hundreds of thousands of dollars before we think about planning and building a shelter.

I’m here to tell you: the old-fashioned way of building an animal shelter is wrong.  The old- fashioned way requires shelters to fundraise a substantial amount of money upfront.  This is why many staff members at animal shelters with limited resources believe there’s no hope to improve shelter conditions.

The staff and volunteers continue to pour blood, sweat, and tears into helping save animals.  Each day is the same: a frantic call to action via social media channels to save animals that are on death row, while trying to simply complete the days many tasks at the shelter.  There’s a better way.  There’s hope.

You don’t have to build a mansion to improve your current conditions.  Shelterplanners will help you determine the size of the shelter that’s needed to allow staff to adequately care for the current animal intake.  This is based on statistical data that you provide.  After we determine the size of the shelter, we have partnered with a national builder, Morton Buildings, which can build a new shelter for a fraction of construction cost.  Shelterplanners also designs the shelter in a way that allows for easy expansion when it’s needed.  This saves animal shelters both time and money in the long run.

This type of design/build is an excellent way to quickly improve shelter appearance, staff morale, and provide a beautiful resource for a community.  A new animal shelter is possible; even for communities and shelters with limited resources.  

As always, Shelterplanners is here to help with any and all questions related to designing, building, and planning your animal shelter.  Please do not hesitate to contact us for ANY questions.  Our goal: Save Time. Save Money. Save Animals.

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The Most Overlooked Step When Designing and Planning an Animal Shelter

We see a recurring mistake among animal shelter directors: they believe financing is the first step when planning to build an animal shelter.  While financing seems a logical place to start the planning process- how can you build a shelter without the funds? – it’s incorrect.

The first step is to determine how much space you need for both the animals you care for and the shelter staff that cares for the animals.  Not only should the planning process incorporate the size of your shelter today but also should account for future growth.  By determining the size of the shelter you need today, a shelter can be designed to handle only your current needs, while also designed for future growth.  This serves two benefits:

  1. You only need to finance and/or raise money for a shelter to care for your current animal intake; meaning you can get a new, more efficient shelter built sooner than if you had to raise or finance huge sums of money for an oversized shelter
  2. If the animal shelter is designed for future growth, you will save money on future architectural and building expenses when it’s time for an addition

After you determine how much space is needed for your animal shelter, you can get an accurate estimate on the total construction and design cost of the shelter.  You are now armed with an estimate and plan for your shelter, which you can communicate to your board and community.  The financing portion is much easier with a well-conceived plan that includes factual, data-based projections.

Always consult with an architect and/or builder that have experience with designing and building animal shelters.  Unfortunately, a bigger building isn’t the answer to solving animal control problems.  Many new animal shelters quickly fill to capacity.  When this occurs, another round of capital and fundraising is needed for either an addition or a complete redesign of the shelter.

Shelterplanners is always here to help you with ANY questions you have about your shelter.  Shelterplanners has the resources to help design, build, and finance your animal shelter.  Please feel free to contact us if you have ANY questions. Together we can: Save Time. Save Money. Save Animals.