Design Concepts

New Approaches To Building Appearance, Equipment and Finishes

Our philosophy of building design is that the facility should be inviting to the public and provide a friendly, enjoyable adoption experience. The building should also be pleasant to work in and easy for the staff to maintain. The facility must present the animals in an appealing manner and also be comfortable, healthy and low stress for the animals.

Since people and animals are most comfortable in a home environment, we incorporate many design elements to make the shelter attractive, home-like and non-intimidating. Often shelters are designed to look like large industrial or institutional buildings.

We feel this is a serious mistake. Even a large building can be designed on a human scale and have a residential quality, whether traditional or modern. As you can see from the shelters pictured in this website.

"Shelter Planners of America" believes the interiors of shelters should also be warm and inviting and avoid the feeling of a sterile hospital or a large cold factory. We make a point of designing abundant natural window light into all animal holding areas and all office spaces. Materials and finishes used throughout the shelter are easy to clean, durable and in warm, pleasant, colors and tones.

Selecting The Best Equipment and Finishes

There are new products, shelter equipment and kennel finishes coming on the market every year. You should know about everything available. Just as important, you should know how different equipment holds up, its strengths and weaknesses and its cost. There are dozens of choices you must make: kenneling equipment; caging; flooring; wall coatings; ceiling materials; built-in pressure washing equipment; watering systems; lighting; floor heat; sound control materials; plumbing fixtures; office finishes and heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems. Because "Shelter Planners of America" has experience with hundreds of projects we've seen all of these products, used in many applications. We continue to research new products and can provide you invaluable guidance in making your selections.

New Kenneling Concepts

There are several excellent new approaches to modern kennel design: Courtyard Kennel Designs, Fully Enclosed Sky Lighted Kennels, Convertible Kennels, Adoption Room Kenneling and Community Display Kenneling to name a few. Shelters Planners of America is a pioneer in these designs. 

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Courtyard Kennel Designs

This extremely popular design was pioneered and perfected by "Shelter Planners of America's" Bill Meade. These Indoor/Outdoor kennels are arranged facing into and around a beautifully landscaped courtyard. The public proceeds into the courtyard to view the animals. The kennels are secure from break-ins, and barking noise is directed away from surrounding neighbors. 

Fully Enclosed Sky-Lighted Kennels

For colder climates, kennels can be fully enclosed and heated for the animals' comfort and health. These kennels receive natural sunlight from a large skylight the full length of the kennel. There is a raised planter (with full sized trees) down the middle walkway between kennels. This planter blocks the dogs' view of other dogs (reducing barking and stress) and gives an outdoor planted atmosphere. 

Community Display Housing

These areas are used primarily to display adoptable animals for the public and encourage visitors to visit the kennels. Several small animals (dogs or cats) can be housed together in a small room behind sound-proof glass. Their space has furniture, toys and climbing features to keep the animals happy and playful which the public will enjoy watching. 

Adoption Room Kennels

This highly appealing concept, also called "real time rooms", pioneered in recent years by our firm, is gaining in popularity especially for shelters that hold animals for longer periods. Each dog has its own small room with a connecting outside exercise area. The room is complete with a washable, padded couch, warm lighting and a picture window to the outside for the dog and one inside for the public to view the dog. These dogs always feel at home, and the rooms are also used for adopters to visit with the animals. 

Convertible Kennels

For moderate climates this type kennel is fully enclosed but at the touch of one button, garage-like doors open up along the entire kennel exterior wall giving the animals and visitors fresh air and open outside views. 

Cattery Concepts

Housing for cats has also seen exciting innovations. Island arrangements of cages, back-lighted cages, cat condos, cat community rooms, and sun/exercise rooms are some of the friendly designs that give cats the happy environment and prominence they deserve. 

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Island Arrangement of Cages
In this popular cat room arrangement, the cages are built-in back to back in the center of the room. This allows the public to circle through the room rather than having a dead-end corridor. The room has large windows for natural light and ventilation, (not possible when cages are lined down perimeter walls). Shelter Planners of America island design can include warm back-lighting of white translucent polyethylene cages and individual exhaust directly to cages. 

Cat Community Rooms
These rooms are designed to house multiple long term, health-checked cats. The room can either be fully enclosed for colder climates or it can be built with a screened porch with cats having access when it is opened during good weather. The space can be fully washed and disinfected and can have built-in exercise features. 

Sun / Exercise Rooms
This special exercise area is usually built connected to the main cat room. It has large glass walls to bring in warm sunlight and stepped platforms leading into the windows for sunning. The room is separated into several open kennels holding several cats each. Compatible cats can be placed in the Sun Room for several hours each day for exercise and stimulation. 

Cat Condos
This design is primarily for cat adoption displays. Each "Condo" is a small room with a solid glass front for public viewing. The Condo is equipped with warm lighting and climbing structures or disinfectable furniture. The Condos face the lobby or main corridors to draw people into adoption areas. 

HVAC and Floor Drainage System

One of the most critical requirements of new or renovated and expanded shelters is that the HVAC systems be designed properly to minimize disease spread among animals. The amount of fresh air make-up, the hourly rate of air exchange, heat and cooling recapture, air filtration and purification, HVAC zoning, supplemental air exhaust and patterns of air distribution within the animal areas are all essential components of a well designed shelter. 

In addition to the above criteria there are important options you need to consider such as radiant floor heat in the dog kennels to eliminate rest boards, speed floor drying time and benefit the animals' disease resistance. Another consideration is to use several smaller, completely separate HVAC systems for different zoned building areas, thereby eliminating spread of odors and contaminated air. This approach also keeps the building comfortable in the event of one zone system failure.
There is no one set formula that can apply to all buildings. Requirements vary based on geographical location and climate, style of kennels, animal capacity of kennels, status and health of the animals being housed and cost considerations. 

It is extremely important that your architectural firm has experience designing systems for shelters in all different climates. It is this experience that will allow your building to be designed so that you do not have odors in the facility or disease spread among animals.

Poor drainage causes more trouble in shelters than almost any other problem encountered. When shelters were first being built, over one hundred years ago, they used hard-to-clean, disease-spreading gutters, and even today shelters are still being designed with the same antiquated, undesirable gutter design. 

Some highly contagious diseases, such as Parvovirus, are spread through the splattering of microscopic bits of feces from one area to another. With a gutter system you are making it easier for spatter and waste to find its way to other animals. Even with covered gutter systems all spattering and cross contamination cannot be eliminated. 

"Shelter Planners of America" applies strict specifications and design criteria to all shelter drainage systems we design. "Shelter Planners of America" uses special floor drainage designs we have developed to assure that all animal spaces drain quickly and completely and that waste or water do not flow into adjacent spaces.