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  • Shelter architects, experts gain volunteers' insights

    Jul 24, 2015 | Read More News
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    Indoor play areas, natural light and a welcome area are just some of the ideas that were tossed out during a public forum on the design of the new Pima Animal Care Center, Thursday, July 23.

    PACC ForumMore than 30 community members took up the county’s invitation to meet with representatives of Line and Space, the local architectural firm that has been chosen to design the new facility.

    Heather Lewis from Animal Arts Design also attended the Abrams Health Care Center. Animal Arts Design is an architectural firm that has designed roughly 400 animal shelters. Line and Space has partnered with Animal Arts Design and University of California Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program on this project.

    Both Animal Arts Design and UC Davis believe properly designed animal shelters improve the health and emotional well-being of pets.

    Poorly designed animal shelters are to pets what airplanes are to people, Lewis said earlier in the day. Airplanes are noisy, constricting and uncomfortable because people are often sitting next to strangers. The only difference is people know why they are in unfamiliar surroundings.

    Stress leads to illness and abnormal behaviors, which lessen a pet’s chances of adoption, which leads to over-crowded facilities, Lewis said.

    The Erie County SPCA shelter in New York saw a 30 percent increase in its adoption rate after it was re-designed because the pets were healthier and people were able to interact with them in a spacious setting, Lewis said.

    Audience members, most of whom are PACC volunteers, were not short on ideas to improve the pets’ quality of life, the overall experience of the humans who visit the shelter and staff/volunteer efficiency.

    Among the suggestions:

    • Separate entrances for sick animals, potential adopters and people dealing with licensing issues.
    • A training program for new pet owners that could reduce returns.
    • More separation between cats and dogs to reduce noise and stress levels.
    • Indoor/outdoor animal runs.

     Long-time PACC volunteers Cathy Neuman and Cindy Trigo said they appreciated the opportunity to have their voices heard.

     “I work primarily in adoptions and I’d like a nice, isolated quiet area so that I can work with potential adopters and the animals,” Neuman said. “I want to make sure they’re a good fit and there’s going to be a positive outcome for the animal.”

     “I’m hoping for a more efficient facility,” Trigo said. “Right now we spend so much time running around trying to find answers, like where specific dogs are.”

    Line and Design said it expects to have a concept design completed by October.