Putting shelters in a positive light

Posted: Updated:

Shannon Boyer's goal is to make the animal shelter that she oversees a space that is a healthy and happy place for the animals who live there temporarily, and for the hundreds of people who visit the facility each month. Boyer is the Arizona Animal Welfare League's Director of Operations. One glance at the dog kennels, or one walk through the cattery, will prove that AAWL/SPCA is a shelter unique unto itself.

Dogs are socialized each day, taken on walks and regularly played with in large, well-maintained yards that are shaded and, in the summer months, include wading pools. Their kennels are large and clean with indoor and outdoor access, as well as special beds that allow the dogs to sleep up off the kennel floors.

In the cattery, cats are kept in communal rooms where they are given free range. Each room includes numerous cat condos where cats can perch up high and keep an eye on things. Each room also includes an enclosed outdoor area where cats can watch birds and nap in patches of sunlight. The cats have access to both indoor and outdoor areas through cat doors. Interactive toys like feathers-on-a-stick are in abundance.

AAWL/SPCA's dog kennels and cattery rooms are all painted bright, cheerful colors. Letters from past adopters practically plaster the walls, along with pictures of past AAWL/SPCA's residents in their new homes, with their new families. AAWL's on-site veterinarian and medical staff are able to provide excellent care and treatment to the kittens, cats, puppies and dogs making sure that they thrive in the shelter environment. Animal behaviorists are also on hand to maintain the behavior and social needs of each animal.

"As a no-kill shelter we've made a commitment to each of our animals to care for them emotionally, behaviorally and medically until their find their new forever homes. Coming to the AAWL shelter is a positive experience for both adults and children," says Boyer.

Approximately 50 staff members and 250+ volunteers work to bring smiles to the faces of shelter visitors every day. If you look close enough, you might even catch a glimpse of a smile on a dog or cat's face, too.

The AAWL/SPCA adoption center is open Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. For more details visit www.aawl.org.