by Cathy Belt
“We are very much an anti-shelter animal shelter.”
Our Executive Director here at Friendship APL likes to frequently boast about being the most anti-shelter shelter director you would ever meet. Obviously being a shelter director himself, this bit usually gets a chuckle from those in attendance. Surely he doesn’t mean he unanimously hates shelters and all they stand for (and you would be right in that assumption).
But what does that actually mean? For humans, an animal shelter is a place for someone to find a four-legged (or sometimes three-legged) addition to their family. It’s also a place to find personal enrichment as a staff member or volunteer. For an animal it is a safe haven from a previous life best forgotten or a temporary residence until the next chapter of their lives. But however we spin what an animal shelter is – it will always be a building filled with cages with animals inside. But does it have to be?
If you’re a cat looking for a home, the Friendship Animal Protective League is not the worst place you could end up. Here you will find no wire cages, no cramped spaces where animals are stacked like Jenga pieces. Little by little, we have been remodeling our shelter room by room with a little help from our friends.
Felines, especially senior cats, special needs cats and long-term residents are high risk for kennel stress. They break down, become anti-social, hard to handle and even stop eating or become ill. This is where our new mini-catteries, possible only because of the generosity sponsored by the Petco Foundation, comes into play.
In our new green room, we have 4 extra-large spaces filled with cat enrichment. The spaces provide a much needed home-like environment for cats to be able to relax, socialize and show their best selves for potential adopters. With a charitable 9k grant from the Petco Foundation, we were able to purchase state of the art glass kennels, new cat furniture from Canada, an Oscillot Cat Containment Systems from Australia, and new benches. The room was also brightened up with a fresh coat of paint on the walls and floor.
Much gratitude from the staff, volunteers and our feline friends to the Petco Foundation, without whom this would not be possible.