Role of the Facility

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What is HASS Role of the Facility?

A HASS facility will be unlike its predecessors. Animal housing areas will become smaller in proportion to program support spaces. Animal housing will support only the animals that need specialized care and attention within a sheltering setting. Facility program areas will weave together with community initiatives. Medical service areas will grow. The facility may be deconstructed and decentralized. In some cases, it may become more virtual than brick and mortar, through foster care services and other out-of-facility programs. An ideal HASS facility will be fully integrated with other uses within a community.

What problem does HASS Role of the Facility solve?

The role of animal sheltering continues to evolve, yet shelters—with their structural rigidity—were frequently built to meet animal sheltering needs of yesteryear. These built structures may even pose barriers to supporting community-centric sheltering. By designing new buildings and retrofitting, remodeling, and reimagining uses for existing buildings to support a more community-centric model, animal shelters can better serve the community, address the root causes of animal homelessness, and treat all animals and all people with compassion.

Role of the Facility Success: Cabot Animal Support Services

Cabot Animal Support Services in the process of building a brand new shelter, centered on their role of supporting their community! Their community has voted and approved a bond issue so they can build a new Animal Support Service Center that includes not only traditional in-shelter housing for the pets that need it, but also an education center, domestic violence boarding facility, animal support programs office, animal welfare and surgery center, human food pantry, and a community dog park. We can’t wait to see what they do with this new building!

How Organizations Can Begin​

Imagine this: The vast majority of animals your organization touches have pre-determined pathways to foster or adoption before ever having to enter your facility, saving them stress and allowing you to utilize that space for the animals who need the most hands-on help. 

Your community is able to access critical services at your facility, such as emergency supplies, lost and found help, and one-on-one case management, to ensure families and their pets can stay together. Your organization creates partnerships with other human and animal services agencies that allow for more services than ever before to be available to people and their pets, resulting in a happier, healthier community.

One of the most exciting things about the Human Animal Support Services (HASS) shelter movement is that you can start right now, without expensive capital campaigns, by reimagining the role of your physical facility as a community animal center. 

The first step is evaluating how your organization currently utilizes the space you have. What spaces in your facility are the most important to your core mission? What spaces get used the least? Does your facility accommodate the most frequent community needs? 

Asking yourself these questions and more can begin to build a road map to the shelter of your future.

By evaluating how you can shift your current facility’s space to better reflect the needs of your community, you are not only creating opportunities to keep more people and pets together, but you are creating a sustainable future. 

To evaluate your current facility, click here for our Existing Facility Analysis

What could the future of your facility look like? Our Building and Facilities Working Group has created a sample layout of the ideal community animal center. As you consider next steps, think about how your facility could evolve into community-centric spaces like these.

Community Animal Center Graphic

More Resources to Implement Role of the Facility

Find graphics, storytelling ideas, and ways you can support implementing Role of the Facility as marketing staff.

Grab the HASS Role of the Facility Marketing Toolkit>>

Increase funding to support your mission of supporting more people and pets.

Get the HASS Philanthropy Toolkit>>

Virtual care can enable shelter clinics to create an effective triage process and better support more pets and people.

Grab the Transforming a Shelter Clinic into a Foster Clinic Virtual Care Guide>>


Learn to have clear and effective communication between medical staff and foster caregivers and to help foster caregivers to feel like VIPs.

Grab the Transforming a Shelter Clinic into a Foster Clinic>>

Request Support

Request crowdsourced support from your peers in community-centered sheltering: