Facility design is not just about architectural plans but considering how those plans will impact the health and welfare of the animals and the people who care for them. Good facility design can help prevent disease transmission, allow for efficient workflow, and improve the overall welfare of both people and animals.
If your organization has the opportunity to design a new facility or remodel an existing one, the first step is to complete a needs assessment. This will help ensure the new facility can fulfill any goals for the organization and will be able to serve the community for years to come. Since it’s rarely possible to get everything on the new facility wish list, a needs assessment can also help define the priorities so resources can be directed to make the biggest impact.
Needs Assessment Considerations
- Annual Intake/Number of animals served
- Projected human and animal populations for the next 15-20 years
- Programs/service needs for community
- Staff/volunteer space needs
- Interior and exterior space needs
A needs assessment may determine more animal housing is not what’s needed. Remember, increasing the number of animal housing units does not always equate with more lifesaving. So, even if a new build or major remodel are not required or just not possible at the current time, don’t underestimate the power of retrofitting or repurposing existing facilities. Facility design concepts can be useful in these situations as well. For example, repurposing small dog kennels to use for cat housing can have significant impact on the health and welfare of the animals.
If your organization is considering a new build or just reimagining the design of an existing facility, use the resources below to help guide the process.
- ASV Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters
- Shelter Medicine for Veterinarians and Staff, 2nd ed.
- Facility Design and Population Management – Koret Shelter Medicine Program
- Facility Design and Housing – Koret Shelter Medicine Program
- Practical Guide to Veterinary Hospital Design: From Renovations to New Builds