After a few successful years of producing and delivering our high-quality, multi-purpose rescue trailer, we decided to head back to the drawing board. We had designed the original model using our two decades of pet habitat experience, so while our customers were delighted, they also had a few suggestions after using the AnimalSafe trailer in the field. As usual, our eager designers used the suggestions as a framework (and an excuse) to redesign our product from the bottom up!
The 2015 AnimalSafe trailer is many things: modular, flexible, multifunction, feature-packed, and laser-focused on details and the highest of quality.
The trailer’s modular rack system allows it to be converted – in minutes – to any number of configurations: animal rescue trailer, mobile adoption center, mobile animal shelter, mobile quarantine unit, or mobile veterinary clinic. Removing the kennels completely and replacing them with desks, chairs and bunks results in a (more…)
Every animal rescue organization faces the same challenge: funding. As such, most animal shelters rely on grants in addition to donations and adoption fees. Ranging in size, scope and source, a myriad of animal rescue grants exist and are simply awaiting your project’s proposal! Knowing what kind of animal rescue grants to look for, where to look for them, and how to proceed is a daunting, but not impossible task. (more…)
As most people in the animal rescue world know, there are often perfectly wonderful dogs that repeatedly get passed over in a shelter. Such animals don’t have any major behavior issues, they are just “raw”; they need someone to take the time to teach them basic manners, potty train them and give them regular exercise so that they can lead long and happy lives in a forever home. It is often unclear why they aren’t picked by potential adopters; maybe they are just a bit unlucky?
There are two such pups currently at the Humane Society of Dallas County, where I once served as a Board Member and volunteered for a handful of years. Their names are Maggie Mae and Clinton. Siblings, they were both left tied to the fence of the shelter—skinny, scared with flea bites everywhere. As they recovered from the trauma of being dumped at the shelter, their sweet personalities blossomed. They are happy, friendly, high-energy dogs that love to run, play and be loved on. But for whatever reason, they have languished at the Humane Society of Dallas County for 18 months, going unadopted despite heavy attempts at marketing them to the public.
One of the reasons they have likely not been adopted is because of their high energy levels. Dallas is a city built of cement, with few homes that have large open areas to run. They ideally need a young person or couple that is very active physically and would be willing to take them out for exercise daily. This can be a tall order, particularly in the Dallas summers where the temperatures reach 100 degrees or more for months at a time. Lastly, in this Dallas shelter, the smaller available dogs just tend to be adopted out more quickly, likely because they have fewer exercise needs and are more suited for indoor living. Whereas, Maggie Mae and Clinton are tall, weighing in at approximately 55-60lbs. Gangly and athletic.
This is where the “economics” part comes in. A shelter volunteer that recently moved to Dallas from Boulder, Colorado was particularly distraught over the fact that Maggie Mae and Clinton are about to spend their second year in the Dallas shelter. She emailed me and asked, “Why can’t we try to move Maggie Mae and Clinton to the Boulder Valley Humane Society shelter? The shelter in Boulder has a huge demand for young and athletic dogs because of the beautiful outdoor surroundings and residents who love to explore them. If we could just move them to Boulder, they would likely be adopted very quickly.” What a fabulous idea!! If Maggie Mae and Clinton just didn’t fit the “demand” criteria in Dallas, then why not move them to somewhere that they WOULD be in demand?
Thus the plan has been hatched! the dogs will be delivered to Boulder, Colorado—where the supply of young, high-energy dogs is scarce, thus making it the ideal destination for this set of siblings to find forever homes. This situation has really got me thinking about how supply and demand affects shelters’ ability to place certain dogs, and how we should use the laws of supply and demand to our advantage to place more dogs and save more lives.
AnimalSafe’s “Mobile Unit” is ideally suited to enable animal shelters to perform mobile pet adoption campaigns. The Mobile Unit is a climate-controlled trailer that is equipped with innovative animal enclosures. These features make the mobile unit an ideal solution for mobile pet adoptions in almost any environment.
The Mobile Unit is outfitted with air conditioning, heating, and lighting. This allows animal shelter workers to rest assured that the animals inside will always be comfortable at the proper temperature while also maintaining important airflow levels. Also, because of the Mobile Unit’s design, any vehicle with a trailer hitch can easily tow it, making it easy for anyone to use, and not requiring a CDL.
With the standard Mobile Unit Layout, animal shelters are able to comfortably fit up to 63 pets in the innovative animal cages included with the Mobile Unit. Pets can then be safely transported to almost any location. Upon arrival at the adoption site, cages can remain inside the Mobile Unit for a comfortable climate, or can easily be unloaded with the animals still within them. This eliminates having to transfer pets between cages and risking escape. Also, with locking cages, animal shelters have the option of determining when animals can or cannot be accessed. Cages can also be stacked back inside the Mobile Unit with the door locked, allowing animal shelter workers to take a break and even leave animals safely unattended for short periods of time. After returning, cages can then be easily moved back outside of the Mobile Unit to continue pet adoptions. Finally, when the Mobile Pet Adoption event is over, slide-out waste trays within the cages provide animal shelter workers with a no hassle method of removing animal waste. Then cages can simply be loaded back into the Mobile Unit, and un-adopted pets safely transported back to their long-term shelter.
The AnimalSafe Pet Adoption Trailer is a versatile animal sheltering system designed to support animal shelters and animal rescue groups. Because of its innovative design, the trailer makes an ideal solution for mobile pet adoptions.
To learn more about the different uses for the AnimalSafe Pet Adoption Trailer, contact us.
The Waldo Canyon Fire was the most destructive fire in Colorado history. In one week the fire consumed almost 20,000 acres and destroyed 347 homes. It was an event that for thousands of people will always be fresh in their memory.
I was evacuated on June 23rd, my son’s first birthday, my family and I were able to return home on July 2nd, a very short time to be evacuated considering how close we were to the fire. When we returned the air was still heavy with smoke. Entering my house from the back door there was a pile of ash trapped on the threshold behind the screen door, seeing this I feared smoke damage. Luckily we didn’t have any, however, friends of ours did. Inside, all of the utilities had been shut off during the evacuation. My wife was sad to realize that all of her plants were dead, and started throwing away everything in the fridge, we had just been shopping before we were evacuated. As a stickler for wasting food, that particularly struck a nerve, but we were grateful to be back home.
Looking west from my house it is easy to see the damage the fire caused, since the entire ridge is burned up. For the next week we were still not able to do anything outside, since the smoke was still so thick. Later my wife and I went for a walk, taking our typical route, but we were surprised to see, there wasn’t much familiar about it. Starting just a block south of where I sleep at night we started to see houses burned up, perhaps from floating embers. Two blocks south we started to see entire neighborhoods reduced to foundations and full of ash. As we finished our walk the damage made it seem like we were actually on some strange planet. On one side of the street there would be thick green trees, and the other side was like the surface of the moon; left desolate, totally silent, and ash everywhere. The constant patrolling by law enforcement and people walking through the ash foundations with orange vests added to the extra-terrestrial experience
I also saw familiar sights; everywhere we went there were signs thanking first responders and firefighters. I also saw American flags, other symbols for encouragement and messages from people who had lost their homes declaring their thankfulness or even that they would return. It was like a community Christmas Eve competition; who can put up the best decorations. My experience during and after the Waldo Canyon Fire made it clear to me how hopeful and grateful these people are. And I know this is an AnimalSafe blog, but it makes me proud to be a tiny part of being able to help out those first responders, firefighters, and rescuers.
I wasn’t able to take too many pictures since local law enforcement really doesn’t want people medalling around neighborhoods that have been burned, but here are some more pictures that I was able to take around my neighborhood.
On June 23, 2012 around 12:30 in the afternoon was the first report of the Waldo Canyon Fire (originally the Pyramid Mountain Fire). It was also my son’s first birthday. To celebrate his birthday we went to Cheyenne mountain zoo, noticing a large plume of smoke just over a ridge from where I live. Determining that our house was safe, and since there was no news about the fire we went ahead to the zoo. As soon as we arrived home that evening I was alarmed at how much the smoke plume had grown since we left, and shortly after arriving, we received notice of our mandatory evacuation. In a rush to evacuate, we quickly packed our cars with important files, clothes, bedding, and some works of art. However, completely confident that we would be returning within the week there were a lot of items we left behind, that I wish we wouldn’t have.
For the following week I would be driving 4 hours every day to get to work, and much of my work days were spent at the evacuation shelter at Cheyenne Mountain High School, taking video footage and collecting feedback from the different organizations using our products on how we might continue to improve our products to meet the needs of a natural disaster.
On Wednesday afternoon the combination of dry air, high wind speeds, and a record-breaking heat streak resulted in a firestorm. In the next several hours the Waldo Canyon Fire went from a large forest fire to a giant monster, moving fast, and devouring entire neighborhoods. The poor air quality, which had already been too much to bear for my wife, became a thick fog of smoke and ash covering the entire city of Colorado Springs, and reaching endlessly into the sky, turning the afternoon sun into a tiny red light. Although only 2 people were killed from the fire, hundreds of others were sickened and hospitalized from the smoke. I was horrified and fascinated.
In other disasters I had seen how people struggled to try and collect as much information as they could. Wondering whether or not they had lost everything, trying to make sure loved ones were safe, and then trying to complete all of the proper steps to make sure they had what they needed during the evacuation. I experienced these same feelings, like having a hangnail or a splinter in your hand, to where every time you try to do something, you are reminded of your irritating circumstance. Regardless of what most of my neighbors and I were going through, it was amazing how understanding and willing to help most of them were, something that most of the news channels failed to share. In addition to the cool attitude of most of the evacuees, it was truly shocking how the local community, volunteers, and responders served. I met one woman who volunteered 24-hour shifts as a vet to help the animals that were evacuated. This was more refreshing than a giant glass of ice-cold water in the 100+ heat.
On Saturday, 6/23 @ 12:30 pm, came the first reports of a billow of smoke rising up in the mountains overlooking Colorado Springs. The Waldo Canyon Fire started in the hottest dry season in Colorado recorded history – dangerously close to Colorado’s 2nd largest city.
At about 2:00 a.m. Sunday Morning, all at once the residents of 35,000 homes were forced to evacuate by the Waldo Canyon Fire. At the same time the owner of AnimalSafe, Kevin Kvols, received a call asking if he could assist in the efforts to provide shelter for the pets of evacuees from Manitou Springs, Woodland Park, and Colorado Springs.
2 weeks earlier several of us had taken a prototype AnimalSafe Mobile Unit and Building to Fort Collins to offer assistance for the High Park Fire, burning out of control. Now our own town, our HOME, had called us to assist in the evacuation caused by this catastrophic “firestorm”.
By 9:00 a.m. that Sunday morning, we had a team of employees and family eager to help, some of which themselves had been forced to evacuate. We drove to the Cheyenne Mountain High School evacuation shelter, with our building and enclosures in tow. Within the hour we had the AnimalSafe building erected and fully functional. This building would prove to be a great asset for both C.A.R.T. and the American Red Cross. While the C.A.R.T. team eagerly “prepped” the enclosures, the guys finished the building and started the air conditioning.
The thermometer was climbing – 100+ degrees of dry air, thick with smoke! I recall watching helplessly as a young girl sobbed when her beloved guinea pig passed away from heat exhaustion. It was just too hot, with no relief. We knew if some relief wasn’t found soon, that there would be more of that end result coming.
A local veterinarian came to assist, and was taking dogs’ temperatures, directing many of them to waiting pools of water to cool down. Max, an elderly black dog being tended to by his owner was weak and lethargic. The vet hooked Max up to an IV while they continued dousing him with water. By this time, he was laying on the ground – unable to muster up enough energy to even move.
Meanwhile, the power of community came shining through in Colorado Springs, as individuals brought hundreds of bags of food, one by one, person by person. Also, Treats, toys, coolers with ice and water, and kennels were brought in all day! What a giving community Colorado Springs is.
Less than an hour after being erected, the building had cooled down to 70 degrees – and was working its way down the thermometer quickly. Max was brought in and placed in one of the large cages, with the vet and his owner sitting on the floor next to him. It didn’t take long after that for Max to feel rejuvenated. Just a short while later, Max’s owner was walking him outside for a potty break! Words cannot express how it felt to know that AnimalSafe had helped to save the life of Max and many other pets, during a scary, stressful time. The Red Cross Shelter for people, with AnimalSafe next door for their pets, brought the very best possible Co-Locating solution available.
During the Waldo Canyon Fire our community lost 346 homes, watched almost 20,000 acres of our beautiful forest burn, lost 2 of our own to the fire, and experienced the most destructive fire in Colorado history. Organizations like the Humane Society, C.A.R.T. and all First Responders worked as a team and turned a time of tragic loss into a time of courage and sharing! We are grateful to all of them and are glad we could supply them with products they needed to combat this disaster.
Orchestrating an evacuation of a city, town or even a single facility can be an overwhelming task for any agency to attempt. When a facility needs to not only factor in the safety of its human occupants but its animal populations as well, it obviously creates an entirely new level of complication. Not only are the actual vehicles needed a limiting factor but the costs involved in such an operation can be overwhelming. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, many animal shelters began to pay close attention to their emergency activation plans and their capacity to put these plans into play on short notice. In many cases groups would develop mutual aid agreements with near by agencies or larger emergency response teams to aid them in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.
I served as a field responder for a large animal disaster response team that had an existing agreement with several agencies in the gulf region. In 2008, we had been deployed in preparation for Hurricane Gustav. Our team was demobilizing from a deployment we had just wrapped up in West Virginia when we got the call for aid from Calcasieu Parrish, Louisiana. Early the next morning we loaded up our truck and out transport rig and headed for Calcasieu. We arrived the same evening with a 40 foot transport trailer that was outfitted floor to ceiling with cage banks and a one-ton diesel truck capable of hauling an additional trailer if needed. Calcasieu had been proactive in relocating as many of their animals as possible, in lieu of the storm but had requested our assistance transporting their remaining shelter population of roughly 140 animals to the a central animal evacuation shelter in Shreveport Louisiana. Even with the resources we had at our disposal, quickly evacuating, loading and transporting 140 animals is a daunting task.
Our team was finally successful in loading all 140 animals into our trailer but had to resort to strategically stacking smaller animals in carriers in the center aisle of our transport trailer, while making sure that the carriers still had adequate airflow. In addition to airflow concerns, the overall temperature of the trailer had to be closely monitored during our transport. As dogs and cats run a resting temperature of 100 to 103 degrees Fahrenheit, 140 of them can quickly elevate the temperature in an enclosed area. We arrived in Shreveport in the early morning hours with all animals safe and healthy and were able to get them off loaded, into larger and more comfortable cage banks and bedded down. It was a mix of both experienced personnel and old fashioned good luck that got us to the evacuation center in time and without any snags and was in no way a feat that any of us took for granted. Had the number of animals been larger, our cages a different size, the a/c compressor on the trailer a smaller capacity or had the storm made a premature landfall, that operation could have ended very differently.
Evacuation and transport operations like this are not as uncommon as they may seem. With the advancement of animal protection laws, increasing frequency of puppy mill shut downs, and large-scale hoarding cases being addressed by municipal animal control and humane law enforcement; the importance of forethought and planning with regards to safe and humane transport will continue to be a keystone component to any animal response organization. The importance of having the right tools when you need them and ability to improvise and customize when the occasion calls for it is critical to the success of almost any field response operation. Even with the best planning, there are events that will undoubtedly occur that cannot be foreseen. But when the time has been taken to prepare and plan ahead for the events you know you may likely be faced with, you need only revise your plan to address the new circumstances rather than scrambling to react once you are faced with the unforseen.
I have spent more than a decade working the field of animal welfare and disaster response, as an animal control officer, veterinary technician, national disaster animal response team lead and EMT. In this time I have seen and utilized every configuration, type and make of animal sheltering and transport solutions. This past May at the Animal Care Expo in Orlando, I had the pleasure of meeting with some of the team from compassion shelters and their new product line, “AnimalSafe”. Versi-Panel Enclosures’ more than 25 years providing transport and sheltering solutions, combined with Companion Habitats’ 25 years as an industry leader in the design and fabrication of animal enclosures, have created one of the most innovative products I have seen come on the market of animal rescue equipment in years. I wish AnimalSafe had been around 10 years ago; they would have made a world of difference in the simplicity and efficiency of many of the responses I have been a part of.
The Compassion Shelters offer an array of modular animal transport and sheltering systems comprised of easily assembled compartments that can serve as both carriers and cage banks. The carriers, which are able to be completely disassembled for easy transport and cleaning, serve as a building block for what is the most quickly customizable animal transport system on the market. There are three different sizes of carriers that will accommodate anything from cats, certain exotics and wildlife to large dogs or smaller farm animals. All units have removable dividers to accommodate the size of animal being housed. The doors on the units are stainless steel providing a durable barrier for potentially fractious animals while the flooring and built-in waste-collection trays are made of ABS plastic (has a smooth surface that stays impermeable to contaminants and retains its durability in extreme temperatures). The exterior walls of each unit have a large folding cargo handle that lays flush when not in use but allows for easy movement of the compartments to and from the field. I think back to the vehicles we had in my days as an animal control officer; our vans were all outfitted with air-conditioned stainless steel caging systems, which do not allow room for custom tailoring with regards to their configuration; once they are installed that is the arrangement you have to work with for good. As an ACO in Washington DC, I responded to calls to aid with the rescue and transport of everything from raccoons to sheep, pit bulls and pythons. Responding to such a diversity of calls and species, it would have been a huge aid to have access to a system as dynamic as the AnimalSafe.
In addition to their caging systems, AnimalSafe also offers Compassion Shelters mobile units. These were designed to facilitate a safer and more efficient animal sheltering and transport option in the world of animal disaster response. When an agency decides to advance their capacity for disaster preparedness and response, often times, the budget may not exist to purchase new vehicles and trailers. To this end, AnimalSafe offers prefabricated mobile and stationary units, the “AnimalSafe Mobile Unit” and the “AnimalSafe”. The AnimalSafe Mobile Unit is a 20 foot trailer outfitted with caging for 75 animals, climate control, a sink, and internal lighting. This makes for an ideal rapid response solution for disaster response teams and animal cruelty investigation teams. The design for the carrier units allow the actual layout of the cages in the AnimalSafe units to be easily customized to fit the needs of a given response operation. This unit also allows an agency to utilize the vehicle resources they already have and simply attach a trailer hitch and suddenly have a mobile sheltering capacity. I think of my first trip to aid in the rescue efforts during Hurricane Katrina. My team was fortunate to have had 2 fully outfitted animal transport vans but they also served as our equipment transports, and team housing. Had we been able to pull an AnimalSafe Mobile Unit, not only could we have exponentially increased the volume of animals that we could have aided, but we could have utilized a tremendous amount of space for equipment and supplies. This, as anyone who has been involved in a large-scale response will attest to, you can never seem to fit quite as much as you need in your vehicle.
With AnimalSafe and Compassion Shelters’ line of field response and transport systems, the risks and challenges posed by the use of transfer cages and less than ideal emergency shelter settings is a thing of the past. Traditionally responders would find themselves capturing an animal, bringing it to a vehicle in a carrier, relocating it to a cage bank in the vehicle and finally to a cage in a shelter facility. This pattern not only exposes responders and handlers to increased risks with increased numbers of interactions with potentially fractious animals, but also increases the likelihood of an animal escaping during the rescue and relocation process. With AnimalSafe, a responder can use one unit to confine an animal in the field, to the transport vehicle and to its final location at a shelter without ever having to remove an animal until it is safely within the walls of the shelter facility. With a team’s implementation of the AnimalSafe system, they achieve both a higher level of care for the animals they are working to protect and increased level of responder security.