Pet Shelter Reimagined: Best Friends Pet Resource Center in Arkansas by Layla Morgan Wilde
Best Friends, a well known animal sanctuary in Utah has opened a First-of-its-Kind, fully Reimagined Shelter in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Is this the future of animal shelters?
Best Friends Animal Society, a leading national animal welfare organization dedicated to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters by 2025, is disrupting a 150-year-old industry by opening the Best Friends Pet Resource Center.
We are thrilled to open the Best Friends Pet Resource Center in the pioneering city of Bentonville,” said Julie Castle, CEO, Best Friends Animal Society. “This center will usher in a new era of how animals are sheltered in our country, because it’s a new type of animal shelter that’s as much for people as it is for pets. It puts the focus on building relationships between the two—whether it’s helping someone to find an adoptable pet in a beautiful, modern environment, supporting people with pets who need help by connecting them with resources and social services, or involving community members in programs that save more pets in Arkansas and nationwide. It’s designed as a community destination with something for everyone who loves animals.”
The Best Friends Pet Resource Center is more than just a place to adopt a pet. It offers resources and services for both people and pets and breaks the mold of the antiquated facilities that have previously been the norm.
Designed without cages and kennels, the center is a community destination that connects people with adoptable pets, offers support for families to keep pets in homes and provides opportunities for animal lovers to help make the state of Arkansas, and the entire country, no-kill by 2025.
More than half of all shelters in America are now no-kill, but to get them all to that place, it will take the support of people in local communities. This center represents the new model of how a community and shelter are intertwined for pet lifesaving.
The new center, which will fill critical gaps for local service in Northwest Arkansas, is the largest facility for animals in the region and will serve an estimated 13,000 dogs and cats each year.
It is a 20,000-square-foot facility sitting on a property of six acres of land owned by Best Friends in the future site of the 8th St. Gateway Park.
While the goals of the Pet Resource Center are serious, the design of the center is playful, featuring installations from local artists, pet fixtures evoking the Ozarks, and even a slide from one floor to the below for a touch of whimsy.
An on-site coffee lounge with free WiFi allows people to work in the company of adoptable cats and dogs.
And people can bring their own dogs to the center for a DIY dog bathing station or to participate in dog socialization activities.
Other services to be offered at the Best Friends Pet Resource Center include:
- Pet housing: Unlike in traditional animal shelters, pets will not be housed in cages or kennels. Dogs featured at the center will be in foster care or come for the day from one of our partner shelters or organizations, staying in spacious meet-and-greet rooms with access to play yards. Adoptable cats will live in foster homes as well as on site in free-roaming rooms and “catios” directly adjacent to high-traffic public spaces on the main level, to give them greater visibility to visitors.
- Hang-out areas: The café, in partnership with Third Space Coffee, will offer beverages and vegan snacks, and a lounge with free Wi-Fi so that visitors can spend time with adoptable pets during their work or school day.
- Veterinary clinic: The veterinary clinic will offer top-quality services, including spay and neuter surgeries, vaccinations, microchips, dentals and more to the homeless dogs and cats who need it most, community cats and pets from income qualifying families.
- Lifesaving: Through taking in the pets at greatest risk from Arkansas shelters, the center will have adoption, foster and volunteer programs; and community cat trap-neuter-vaccinate-return support.
- Transport: Support for local homeless pets with lifesaving lifts to communities where they are more likely to be adopted, the space can serve as a stopover for long-distance transports. At the center, pets will have a comfortable and safe space to stay overnight.
- Resources: The new space will offer support and resources to help people keep their pets, including the Pet Care Navigator, a first-of-its kind technology solution that connects struggling pet owners directly to organizations that can help them; a pet supply pantry for those in need, supported by community donations; and collaborations with social service agencies.
- Rehabilitation: The center will provide foster care for pets who need extra training to get adopted and/or are recovering from an illness or injury.
- Education: The building will serve as the headquarters for the Northwest Arkansas Partnership for Animal Welfare (NWA PAW) and offer family-friendly humane education and on-site enrichment opportunities.
Programs and services will be rolled out continuously after opening, and fully operational after several months.To learn more, visit: bestfriends.org/nwa.
This project was made possible by more than 600 generous individuals, corporations and foundations, including: Alice L. Walton Foundation, Alumbra Innovations Foundation, BISSELL, Blue Buffalo, Builders Initiative Foundation, Fresh Step, Nestlé Purina, Giorgi Family Foundation, Mars Petcare, JB Hunt, Rachael Ray Foundation, Tina Santi Flaherty, Walmart, and Walton Family Foundation.
The building was completed by: RA-DA, HFA and Baldwin & Shell Construction Company.
The Best Friends Pet Resource Center is located at 1312 Melissa Drive in Bentonville, and is open Monday-Thursday from 10 am-6 pm, Friday 10 a.m.-7 p.m., and Saturday-Sunday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.