Andrea Lucia, CBSDFW.COMBy Andrea Lucia

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Life behind bars isn’t easy, even if you are a small puppy.

The more time an animal spends in a typical crowded shelter, the more likely it is to get stressed and sick.
But, dogs and cats at the SPCA of Texas are about to see a change.

Monday, the organization is set to open its new adoption center in Dallas.

“This is a very unique project,” said James Bias, the organization’s president.

Giving a tour of the 15 million dollar facility, he pointed out splashes of color and light drawing eyes toward spacious dens where the dogs will be kept.

“Color doesn’t mean a whole lot to the animals, but it does to the people,” said Bias.

The wide open lobbies decorated with oversized black and white photographs are meant to draw in human visitors.
The chandelier of fish in the ‘cat rotunda’ may keep them entertained.

Designers envisioned a fish bowl, with the cats looking at the people inside.

But, this isn’t just a better-looking animal shelter, “There’s been a lot of science put into this beyond just making it look nice,” said Bias.

Consulting with veterinarians, the SPCA looked for ways to keep animals healthier.

Stray animals and abandoned pets will be received at the back of the building and work their way to the front, only after they’ve been examined at a full service on-site clinic, equipped with x-ray machines, a pharmacy, and surgical room.
Dogs will have access to grassy outdoor play areas.  Their dens have floors that all slope toward a drain to keep them clean and dry.  Elevated water bowls refill themselves and keep the water supply from coming into contact with any animal waste.  Even the rooms’ rounded corners help ward off disease.

“There’s no nooks or crannies for disease to get into,” said Bias.

The dogs will also be kept in groups, organized by colors.  A dog in a ‘red’ den will only ever cross paths with dogs in other ‘red’ dens.  If one gets sick, only a few be exposed, instead of the whole population.

Depending on how socialized they are, cats can live in individual enclosures or larger shared cat condos with large windows offering a glimpse at the birds outside.  They’ll also be able to indulge their claws – with several toys and replaceable rope pads they’re free to tear apart.

“Most shelters try to make everything so bullet proof that it’s actually detrimental to the animal’s well being.”
The innovations are already getting attention nationwide, and Bias hopes to gather hard proof of an impact on the number of adoptions.

“We’re gonna be tracking data so we can report back to other organizations that are thinking of building shelters, okay – this worked, or this had to be retooled a little bit,” he said.