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  • Writer's pictureHannah Skidmore, MBA

How to Improve the Public Perception of Your Animal Shelter

Public Perception Has a Large Impact

Public perception has a significant impact on the success of an animal shelter. When people walk into a shelter, they do not want to see deteriorating flooring, smell dog urine, or hear loud barking. They want to walk into a shelter environment that is calm and built with quality finishes and air systems. They perceive a correlation between their experience and the shelter animals’ experience. Because of this, many aspects can affect the overall public perception of a facility. The building experts and animal shelter experts at Design Learned engineer buildings with public perception in mind.


Aspect #1 - Odor

Odor can be a significant deterrent for the public to visit a shelter and can cause them to leave with a negative experience. When people experience odor, they usually associate the smell with uncleanliness. The smells in a shelter from urine, solid waste, and overall animal odor can be overwhelming, especially for people who are not used to that type of environment. It is essential to address odor in a facility. Our building experts and animal care engineers address odor in a few ways - including integrating multiple smaller HVAC systems, considering air flows, and ensuring fresh air within a facility.


Aspect #2 - Noise

Noise can be another concern that can affect public perception of a shelter. When someone walks into a lobby, it shouldn’t echo and be full of barking! Think not only of the sound traveling within the lobby but also of dog barks from animal-holding areas in the back. The Design Learned building experts design facilities with both noise transmission and reverberation control in mind. Our animal shelter experts achieve this in a couple of ways.

  • Selecting building materials that do not easily allow noise through the materials (keeping noise within a space rather than traveling throughout the shelter)

  • Using surface-mounted materials that deaden noise (think of dogs barking within a space)


Aspect #3 - Layout

Layout is another factor that can affect public perception. The public does not want to enter a small lobby with no room to move around or wander through a building to get to adoptable animals. Here are a few ways that our building experts integrate into our shelter layouts to improve public perception:

  • Lobbies large enough to be welcoming

  • Clearly marked corridors through the facility - noting public use vs. staff use

  • Adequately spaced animal holding rooms & meet and greet spaces for animals and people to occupy comfortably

  • Never walking through one animal area to get to another animal area


Aspect #4 - Materials and Finishes

The materials and finishes selected for a facility can have a significant impact on public perception. The public should feel like they are walking into a fresh and clean environment rather than a dark and sad space. The colors, floorings, and other finishes used within a shelter completely transform the 'public' experience while in a shelter. Old and tired finishes leave a negative impression on the public, and they have a profound effect on animal health and safety.


Animal Shelter Design is Invaluable

Overall, public perception can be affected by many aspects of a building. Odor, noise, layout, and finishes are a few puzzle pieces. When designing an animal shelter, it is essential to remember that

  • Animal health & staff safety are the most critical factors in the design

  • But, public perception cannot be forgotten!

Keeping positive public perception helps improve the overall quality of the shelter for all facility stakeholders - including the public, staff, administration, and most importantly, the animals in the shelter’s care.


Contact Animal Shelter Experts

Contact Design Learned today to learn more about designing an animal care facility with public perception in mind! 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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