By JOE LISELLA
Recently, I had a meeting with one of our supporters who, when asked, said if there was one thing he’d like to see changed at the Animal Protective Foundation (APF) it would be to “get rid of the dog cages.”
Times were different when our shelter was built in 1993. This was before spay/neuter was widely practiced and overpopulation guided shelter design to fit the maximum number of dogs in the available space. What you see at APF today was the norm for those days: four-foot square wire kennels in a large room with two trench drains to handle the waste of 48 dogs. Between the physical space and the single HVAC system that emphasizes efficiency over fresh air, the opportunities for disease transmission are great.
In addition, the sounds and smells of the other dogs often cause a great deal of stress, which is magnified as dogs spend weeks or months in the shelter. And, as you can imagine, dogs who are stressed in the shelter (who will be great in a home environment) take longer to find their forever homes.
We have an opportunity to take a giant leap forward from our present housing thanks to New York state’s Companion Animal Capital Fund grants. APF is one of 17 animal shelters statewide awarded grant funding in 2022 to improve our facility, but the program requires us to raise a significant portion of the funds on top of the grant to complete the project.
Our goal is to meet the ideal standards created by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians. These standards are the result of input from leaders in shelter design and will dramatically improve the medical, behavioral and mental well-being of the dogs in our care.
This means that after the renovation, each dog will have its own room with sound insulation to minimize the stress that arises from nearby barking dogs. In addition, each room will have its own drainage and will also have an exhaust vent to ensure that fresh air is introduced constantly. If multiple dogs arrive from the same household, we will also have the ability to configure “pods” so that multiple kennels can be shared by bonded dogs.
We will also have flexibility to divide the space, which will enable us to quarantine dogs to minimize opportunities for disease transmission. This will allow us to launch a safe transport program to import dogs from overcrowded shelters when we have capacity to help more animals. To do this in our present facility, we place the dogs in our care at risk of exposure to disease and increase the stress levels that arise from unfamiliar smells and sounds.
Once completed, the Humane Dog Housing Project will have a dramatic impact on the stress levels of all of our animals in our care, as there will also be additional sound mitigation between our dogs, cats and small companion animals. This will reduce the amount of time they spend with us, help us achieve even higher numbers of adoptions and reduce owner returns — three of our main objectives.
I am happy to share that we are over halfway to our fundraising goal — but we still need to raise a significant amount of money to complete the project.
We are challenging the community to help us complete the Humane Dog Housing Project by offering naming opportunities to honor beloved pets, family members, businesses or others who share our love of animals. With your help, we can reach our goal and dramatically improve the care we give each and every dog at APF.
If you are interested in naming opportunities or have questions about the APF’s Humane Housing Project, please contact us at [email protected] or phone 518-374-3944.
Joe Lisella is executive director of the Animal Protective Foundation. APF contributes Animal Chronicles articles and welcomes animal-related questions and stories about the people and animals in our community. Visit animalprotective.org, follow us on social media @AnimalProtectiveFoundation or email us at [email protected]