The Shelter Revolution Movement
by Kate Elisha

I came across an interesting article recently that I can’t get off my mind. The article, which can be read in its entirety here, was titled “ Shelter Revolution: Homeless Pets Never Have To Be Euthanized.” I found  this concept of an entire revolution of the United State’s animal shelters to be both innovative and quite logical.

“The Shelter Revolution movement says, ‘Current municipal animal shelters are prisons that breed anxiety, depression and aggression in homeless pets.’ Dogs are forced to live in isolation or in crowded conditions in cages where they smell the scent of death every day. Animals are warehoused until they are euthanized. The purpose of the current system is to control strays from roaming on the streets. It is not a system that can be reformed; it must be completely restructured.” As one proponent of the movement says, “There is not reason that a dog needs to be in a cement room with chain link fences.”

The movement is based on the model of human daycare centers and wants to see animals living a natural, communal setting as opposed to the current model of isolation. (However, the shelter revolution movement plan does accommodate for sick animals and a quarantine area for new arrivals.)

Communal housing  places large number of dogs and cats (separated, of course) in a home-like setting where they are separated by size and personality. Volunteers walk the animals daily, provide food and water and supervise open playtime.

The Spirit Animal Sanctuaryis a great example of successful communal housing. The sanctuary takes in unadoptable, unwanted, old and sick dogs where they happily live out there lives on 128 acres of forest and fields with people who love and care for them. Through the method of communal housing, along with extensive training, this rescue has seen hundreds of once fearful, aggressive dogs transform into loving, friendly animals.

Check out the Shelter Revolution website for more information. Could this be the future of our animal shelters?

I Rescued A Human Today by Janine Allen Posted by Janine Allen at Monday, November 17th, 2008.


Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels. I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her.

I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn’t be afraid. As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn’t want her to know that I hadn’t been walked today. Sometimes the overworked shelter keepers get too busy and I didn’t want her to think poorly of them.

As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn’t feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone’s life.

She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship. A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well.

Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms.

I would promise to keep her safe.
I would promise to always be by her side.
I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes.

I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven’t walked the corridors. So many more to be saved. At least I could save one.

I rescued a human today.

As I sit and debate what topic shall be the opening for my very first blog, I consider what might interest people; what do you want to read about? None of the standard topics seemed very intriguing. So, I left the house and figured I could think on it more later. I went to Petsmart to pick up a harness and some chew toys for my young, happy, growing, bouncy foster puppy.
As I was checking out I noticed a young boy coming out of the grooming department.  He was probably around ten to twelve years old and was coaxing along his beautiful senior golden retriever through the doorway behind him. The dog appeared happy to have just gotten a good bathe and brush. As I saw the dog come out of the door, he suddenly collapsed his back legs on to the ground and struggled to follow his owner. I stopped checking out, stopped pressing all of the “yes, no, more cash back” buttons, and watched the dog, my heart in my throat, trying to quickly make sense of what I was seeing.
As the dog continued to try to follow his master, his back legs could not hold him up for longer than a split second and he continually scrambled to get up.  Eventually, he gave up on his back legs and just drug them behind. The young boy turned and sweetly encouraged his dog to make it to the door. I quickly finished my checkout and hurried over, scraping my brain over how I could help. The pair had stopped at the door, waiting for their adult, I assumed.

Unsure of what to say but knowing I couldn't look past this situation; I stopped to pet the dog. He looked up at me, panting and out of breath from dragging his legs and seemingly smiling (or was that just the panting face?). He seemed content. The boy jumped right in, "His name is Phineas, he is ten years old. A purebred, so, y’know, he's got bad hips..." Still stunned, I struggled for words. Best I can recall, I replied something to the effect of "Well, he is a sweet dog!” and I made my way out as a swarm of people seemed to push me into the flow of traffic out the door. Everyone else seemed to look past the pair.
As I got in my car I sat for a minute to process my thoughts, and figure out why I felt so sad. Why did no one else seem to care? Will this happen to my dog, who is inevitably going to have hip problems? I had always figured he would be miserable when his hips gave out and it would be his time, but this dog didn't look miserable. Had they considered euthanasia? Phineas and his boy probably grew up together. Maybe the parents didn't have the heart to put him down?
I was once told that there are three days of pet ownership you will remember best; the day you bring home your new fuzz ball, the day you realize that he is graying in the face, slowing down and getting old, and the day he dies.
As pet owners, we have the ability to determine when our pet is having more bad days than good and make a tough decision, but will we be able to make that choice? If I opt to euthanize my dog when his hips go completely out, will I always miss those few more days I could have had to show him he is loved and will I regret my choice? If I choose not to euthanize him, will I, in the end, wonder if he suffered too much and if it was selfish of me to keep him here even though he was miserable? I don't think I am the only pet owner out here who has these thoughts. More accurately, I don't think I am the only one out here trying desperately to avoid these thoughts.

When is it time?



    Kate Elisha- Adopter, Supporter and writer for Canine Candor!

    Kathryn Zaggle- founder of Canine Candor, Inc. Kathryn has had a passion for animals her whole life and worked directly with dogs and cats since she was fifteen. She hopes she can help save the lives of dogs, none of which deserve to be neglected, abused or euthanized while also educating our future generation about pet care and other animal issues.


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