By taking the step to design and build a new animal shelter, you are embarking on an exciting and important journey. Your new facility will need to help you meet the challenges of responsible animal care for the next 40 years.
For decades conventional thinking about designing animal control facilities amounted
primarily to “warehousing” and disposing of animals, despite the efforts of caring shelter
professionals. “Out-of-sight, out-of-mind” was the philosophy that drove animal control
policies and procedures. As you know, that common standard is no longer acceptable.
In the last 30 years, animals sheltering has advanced by leaps and bounds. Animal shelter
facilities have been re-invented as viable community resources - places that provide
humane care for animals, as well as education for the community. The well-being of the
animal population will be greatly improved by a new building that can accommodate,
support, and enhance operations.
What kind of Facility will you Need?
The volume of animals that need housing and care drives a large part of what your new
facility will need to (and will) do. Among the many things your new building needs to
• Reduce your euthanasia rates
• Encourage adoptions
• Accommodate your animal intake and housing policies and goals
• Minimize the spread of disease
• Provide clean indoor air
• Create a safe environment for staff, visitors, and animals
• Provide sufficient parking and loading/unloading capacity for staff and the public
• Accommodate your exiting and future community outreach programs
• Be easy to maintain and efficient to operate
• Allow expansion of business hours
• Be a pleasant place to work and visit
How Design and Planning Supports your Goals
Connolly Architects continues to redefine the shelter building type by developing creative
design solutions that assist our clients in achieving their operational goals. We approach
shelter programming and design with an understanding of the challenges that this building
type presents and adapt design ideas and elements from other building types - such
as retail - to meet our clients’ unique needs. In our recent projects we have included the
following design elements:
• Promoting the prominence and “curb appeal” of the facility from the street to heighten
its visibility in the community.
• Providing master plans that allow expedient and effective expansions as needed.
• Including “self-serve” features that create a relaxed atmosphere for visitors and reduce
staff labor and municipal liability.
• Providing safe viewing of animals “behind glass” that eliminates the visitor’s risk of
being scratched or bitten, and reduces the potential of spreading disease among the
• Designing indoor and outdoor “get acquainted” areas, including screened porches and
• Designing “wayfinding” to help visitors navigate unassisted through the facility, allowing
staff more time to focus on animal control.
• “De-institutionalizing” the facility by creating unexpected floor plans that provide an
element of surprise in the shelter’s design and create a more welcoming and entertaining
Connolly’s shelters experience as much as a 50 percent increase in adoption rates
within weeks of opening, and these numbers are sustained as time goes by. Shelters
have reported upticks in the adoption of adult animals (usually less adoptable than
puppies or kittens) and enormous increases in numbers of visitors.
New animal care facilities must assist staff in providing for the welfare of the public and the companion pet population. It is an investment in the future of each community. Connolly applies their understanding of the agency’s specific needs of animal shelter design to create a plan that will minimize expense and maximize durability while creating an environment that is pleasant for both staff and visitors.