Look at these babiessss! Aren’t they gorgeous? I met them a few months ago at a Friends for Life adoption event in Houston. Friends for Life is one of only two LEED-certified no kill animal shelters in Texas. That means they are a certified green building ? You definitely get a different feel when you walk through their doors, and I don’t just mean aesthetics. First of all, it’s quiet! Granted, the main part of the shelter open to the public only has about eight to ten dogs, but normally shelters are extremely loud and chaotic. Friends for Life, on the other hand, has a calm and peaceful vibe that is nice for visitors, but even nicer for the animals that live there.
I visited twice in one week, if that tells you anything! Check out the adorable cats and dogs that I met during my visits and all the wonderful facts I learned about this progressive no kill shelter ??
Walking through the doors of Friends for Life, lots of cute puppies and kittens are there to greet you. Right away, you notice how open and clean everything is. It doesn’t smell like a shelter, there’s lots of high ceilings and natural lighting, and it’s colorful. There are binders that contain photos and info for each animal that is available for adoption. Aside from the fur babies at the shelter, there are also many more currently in foster homes that are still waiting for a forever home.
Nothing’s better than a puppy belly ☝️
Well, maybe walking into rooms full of adorable cats wanting your attention. The cat rooms come equipped with window boxes that overlook the main lobby, custom built wall climbers, and hide & seek boxes. There are different rooms to accommodate the different needs: senior cat room, leukemia cat room, and Tosca’s room (for shy cats that need more time to come out of their shell). Visitors can enter the rooms and interact with the cats. Here’s a few of the cuties I met!
There were so many black cats! I love black cats, I think they’re especially endearing. Other than the three black cats below, can you also spot the white cat and the kitty in the hide and seek box on the left?
Friends for Life has prevented the birth of more than 34,000 cats since they started providing free spay/neuter services to animals in low-income communities. Wow!
Round the corner and on the other side of the building are the dog show rooms, where the adult dogs hang out. Each kennel has its own airflow and exhaust vent. There are sniff holes so dogs can sniff visitors (and see what kinds of treats they have!) ? The kennels are also sound proofed so the dogs aren’t subject to loud, invasive noise that could cause discomfort or anxiety. Check these babies out…
This sweet guy ☝️ immediately reminded me of my first dog, Jackson, because they look almost exactly alike! And the girlie below reminds me of Josie, my second dog!
Friends for Life has what they call a Real Life Dog Room next to the lobby, a place where volunteers and visitors can take the dogs to hang out in what resembles a room in a house, to help the dogs feel more at home and prepare them for what it will be like when they are adopted. I’ve heard of other shelters employing this method and I think it’s fabulous. I hope it picks up speed and eventually, every shelter can have one!
The Friends for Life Adoption Center became one of the first and only LEED-certified no kill shelters in Texas on June 2, 2012. But what exactly does that mean? According to the U.S. Green Building Council website, “LEED-certified buildings are resource efficient. They use less water and energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As an added bonus, they save money.” For a shelter specifically, it means healthier animals and people, a more comfortable and safe environment, and the standard that taking care of animals and the planet is just as important as taking care of people.
I went back to Friends for a Life a few days later to check out their Mega Adoption event. They had lots of tents set up all over the parking lot, providing shade for the cute fur babies, as well as a mobile adoption unit housing some precious kittens.
I love taking close up photographs of dogs because their eyes speak volumes, like with the doggies below. So soulful.
This cute little dachshund can make funny faces, too. Check out her sassiness!
Going to animal shelters can be pretty daunting for some people, because shelters typically aren’t described as happy environments. In fact, they can be downright depressing. But Friends for Life is breaking that stereotype. Animal shelters should be clean, calm, enriching and inviting. Not just for the visitors and the volunteers, but first and foremost, for the animals that come through them. Loud, dirty shelters are traumatizing for many animals and it can translate to behavioral issues, even once that animal has been adopted and is in a home. We know animals deserve the very best, and that’s why I’m happy places like Friends for Life exist.
If you live near Houston or find yourself traveling through, I highly recommend taking an hour to check out their adoption center at 107 E. 22nd Street, Houston, TX 77008. Once a person adopts from Friends for Life, they can rely on the shelter for free behavioral services, micro grants for veterinary fees, help with containment (like repairing fences) and a food bank. The goal is that once a cat or dog is adopted, they stay with their forever family for just that, forever.