AWA working with world renown animal shelter design consultant

The AWA is now in the planning process to build a new animal care and education center. The 15,000 sq. ft. center will replace the current, well-used 5,000 sq. ft. facility.

The following is a release from the Animal Welfare Association:

For more than 70 years, the nationally recognized and award winning Animal Welfare Association (AWA) has been dedicated to saving the lives of companion animals in the community. To ensure another successful 70 years, the AWA is now in the planning process to build a new animal care and education center. The 15,000 sq. ft. center will replace the current, well-used 5,000 sq. ft. facility.

“Picture yourself far away from home, from all the things you know – deposited for an unknown reason in a strange place where you don’t know anyone,” said AWA Executive Director Maya Richmond. “What would help you cope? To enable pets to remain as healthy and happy as possible, we must attend to both their physical and emotional needs.”

Helping to meet these needs, the AWA hopes to include a kitten nursery, get acquainted rooms, “real life” rooms, new exercise yards and walking trails, “catios”, a cat tunnel, gardens for growing herbs and vegetables to use for pet enrichment and more.

With 55 percent of the fundraising goal achieved, the AWA has sought the planning expertise of Rick Bacon, an internationally recognized animal shelter design consultant to help with the creation of a state-of-the-art animal care shelter and education center. Bacon has worked with leading animal welfare organizations across the county.

“His use of open space inside an abandoned car dealership created all glass community cat rooms in the lobby for the Atlanta Humane Society,” said Richmond about Bacons’ work in helping rebuild a shelter after a fire destroyed the Jacksonville Humane Society. “Rick’s expertise and leadership helped that organization with their rebuilding with an eye for improving animal care. Bacon’s knowledge of how animal sheltering has changed over the years, and what the animals and people need today, makes his addition to the AWA new building team a true asset.”

Key to the planning process is determining how the wide range of current and new programs and services will best be accommodated.

In keeping with AWA’s commitment to the community, the new facility hopes to allow the expansion of outreach programs like Well-Mannered Dog (dog training classes), Feral-Fix-It (spay/neuter/vaccination program for feral cats), Kids Kamps (week-long summer camps), Pawsitive Readers (children reading to pets), Special Paws (skills training for special needs youth), Pet Pantry (pet food for families in need), and Employable You (job skills training for Camden County youth, providing them with hands-on learning and mentoring.

“Today’s animal shelters must meet a variety of needs,” said Bacon. “They need to be functional, but welcoming; welcoming, but not appear extravagant; they need to showcase pets in an appealing way, but also provide secure space for pets who are ill; they need to serve the current needs of the surrounding community, but with an eye to how demographics may shift over time.”

With the community’s support, the AWA believes its plan to “Build a Place Where Happiness Begins” will be successfully realized, breaking ground in early 2020 – and serving pets and people for another 70 years.

The Animal Welfare Association, a private, non-profit, 501(c) (3) animal welfare organization, serves the people and animals of southern New Jersey. AWA is dedicated to eliminating animal suffering, promoting the importance of the human-animal bond, and improving the role of animals in the well-being of people. Through a variety of programs including adoptions, veterinary services, pet therapy, and humane education, in 2018 over 23,000 pets were served through AWA programming.

If you would like more information about AWA and its capital campaign to “Build a Place Where Happiness Begins”, please contact Maya Richmond at 856-424-2288, ext. 109, email mayar@awanj.org.