Courtney McLeod Golden, AIA, LEED AP, NCARB, is a Partner with Dreyfuss + Blackford. As an only child, Courtney had many furry siblings over the years, including Charlie the tarantula.
My colleague Jason Silva recently shared an article with me about the Book Buddies program at the Animal Rescue League of Berks County, Pennsylvania. This amazing program was the result of a Mom’s quest to help her 5th grader who was struggling with reading. She knew her son loved animals and that gave her an idea. She took him to the local animal shelter where he began reading aloud to cats available for adoption. In no time, his reading significantly improved. Inspired by his progress, she implemented the Book Buddies program so other children could have the same opportunity to learn and grow while connecting with animals.
Amazing stories like this demonstrate how shelters are saving animals and the people who spend time there. Now more than ever, animal care facility design must emphasize the connection between homeless animals and the people who care for them – paying careful attention to the wellness of both. As a result, these relationships will flourish.
Fortunately in the last decade, public perception of animal shelters has dramatically changed. They are no longer just a public safety facility for animal control and protection. Now, they are adoption centers designed so both animals and people can thrive. This trend has presented our firm with an amazing (architectural) opportunity.
Earlier this year, Dreyfuss + Blackford teamed with Animal Arts out of Boulder, Colorado on the Design/Build best-value competition for the Placer County Animal Services Center project in Auburn, California. Working with Unger Construction Co., a talented team of consultants and County officials, we are creating an environment that supports staff and animals, while at the same time, invites visitors to more quickly bond with adoptable pets. In the process, this new “shelter” creates a pleasant and memorable experience for all. “This project has inspired our staff,” says Mike Winters, the Auburn Shelter Manager, “to envision a day when every companion animal that enters our shelter will be humanely housed and cared for and where every adoptable pet will find a forever home.”
In the words of Louis J. Camuti, “Love of animals is a universal impulse, a common ground on which all of us may meet. By loving and understanding animals, perhaps we humans shall come to understand each other.”
Reinforced by the innovative changes happening in shelters around the country, we’re thrilled to have this opportunity to provide a facility here in Northern California that will save animals, one person at a time.