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  • Writer's pictureHannah Skidmore, MBA

How to Design an Animal Shelter with Species Separation

How to Prepare for Species Separation

While many animal shelters focus mainly on companion animals (particularly dogs and cats), it is essential to make sure an animal care facility is designed in such a way as to be prepared for adequate species separation. At Design Learned, we cannot stress the importance of species separation enough within an animal shelter. The experience of being in a shelter is stressful enough for animals. Now consider adding the potential stress (and possible danger) of different species interacting. These stresses can be detrimental to an animal’s overall health and well-being.


There are a couple of strategies the building engineers at Design Learned leverage when designing a building with species separation in mind.


How Building Layout Supports Species Separation

The overall layout of the building is typically the most obvious way to provide separation between species. Certain species should never be housed in the same room. The Design Learned experts often create physical separations within the building (such as buffer rooms) also to provide distance between different species.


For example, if an animal shelter has a dog-holding room in one area, our designers try to keep the cat-holding room away from that space. The odors and noise from dogs can be very stressful for cats in the shelter.


There are a few ways our interior designers consider building layouts. As a rule of thumb, our designs do not include different species sharing a room. We also recommend that different species do not share a wall either. There are also noise control strategies we engineer into building designs. Keep in mind, in some cases, due to a lack of space or operations limitations, we may have to get creative in minimizing shelter-specific layout challenges.


How Mechanical System Design Supports Species Separation

One of the most essential factors in designing a building for species separation is often either forgotten or misunderstood. The engineered systems of a building matter! Our building experts understand these engineered systems, particularly the HVAC system, and can support species separation considerations through these systems.


We see many facilities with an efficient building layout but a poorly designed HVAC system. These facilities have one or two larger HVAC zones. The engineers at Design Learned understand ways to maximize the benefits of engineered systems. One method is to design facilities with multiple smaller independent HVAC zones. Smaller zones are essential as each zone is dedicated to the space it serves. For instance, one zone may be for the dog adoption room, and another zone may be used for the cat adoption room.


What challenges may arise with different species sharing a single zone? If multiple species share one larger zone, then pheromones and noise are communicated across the species through the HVAC’s ductwork. The HVAC system is a prime example of how merely focusing on building layout to support species separation may not be enough.


Benefits of Species Separation

Our goal is to create mini-isolatable areas throughout the facility. But why species separation?

  • These isolatable areas help with species separation - but the areas also ensure the shelter remains flexible should room needs change in the future.

  • Species separation can reduce animal stress and, in turn, increase the health and wellness of the animals.

  • Recovery times from illnesses and injuries can also be reduced when an animal has less stress.

Would Your Shelter Benefit from Species Separation?

Building layout and engineered systems are two strategies our building experts integrate into animal shelter building plans. Please reach out if you want to learn more about how to lay out a well-planned animal shelter. We’d love to discuss your current shelter or future shelter plans. Call us at 860-889-7078 or schedule a consultation online.






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