SMITH PRIVATE RESCUE FACILITY
This page shows various views of some of the rooms and exterior of the private facility we use for animals we personally rescue. It's important for you to know that this facility was built with our private funds, NOT monies donated to either of the charities we founded.
People often see this facility and think it's the Taj Mahal for cats. Well, it is very nice and the animals in our care really seem to like it, but it's not a real home. The facility is designed for cleanability, so there are no couches, beds, etc., like there would be in a real home. As such, while this facility is a great place for our healthy rescued animals to hang out while they're awaiting their forever homes, it's not meant to be a substitute for their forever homes. These animals deserve loving homes where they can be a part of great families.
When we rescue cats who are not special-needs and would be appropriate to place in homes, we go to the Nth degree to ensure that their new homes are perfect for them and forever. We've found hundreds and hundreds of A-1 homes for needy animals over the decades. The special-needs animals stay with us, where they get every bit of lifelong medical care they need.
Note: we do not accept relinquished or rescued animals from the public.
Click on any of the thumbnail pictures below to see a full-sized version (640x480; optimized with Adobe ImageReady for great quality, but small file sizes and quicker downloads). I shot all of these pictures except the first (largest) one right after construction of the main structure was finished, but before we installed the epoxy floor on the screened porch, constructed a deckboard walkway leading to the front of the screened porch & up the deck ramp at the left edge of the facility, installed any landscaping or moved any animals into the facility. After these pictures were shot, I installed white, rounded-edge & rounded-corner shelves on the walls of most of the rooms, so now we're never far from paper towels and foamy cleaner or a litter scoop.
In general, we find great lifelong homes for the healthiest of the animals we rescue and we keep the eldest & sickest ones. Most of the cats we house in this facility are special needs cats. Their infirmities include: only one kidney, diabetes, heart conditions, amputees, kidney failure, severe oral disease, blindness, inflammatory bowel disease, immune diseases, megacolon, one eye and---last but certainly not least---spinal cord injury. Our most special of the special needs kitties was Sadie, who was the victim of cruelty when she was young and was, we and the doctors all believe based on her x-rays, swung around by her tail and thrown. She had no bowel or bladder control, so Julie had to express Sadie's bowel and bladder twice a day. Plus, Sadie was on a constant "cocktail" of different medicines which Julie constantly adjusted to keep Sadie properly regulated. Based on what the cruelty did to her spine and pelvis, Sadie was really lucky to be able to be kept alive; she shouldn't have use of her rear legs. She was one of the happiest-to-be-here cats you'd ever meet, though, and had a great quality of life until she developed internal bleeding and other problems which precipitated her euthanasia.
Now, more about our facility.
The facility is about 3000 square feet, has two baths, a laundry room (complete with sink, sprayer, garbage disposer & lots of cabinets), double steel entry doors on one end for ease of loading in & out, lots of closets, lots of windows, ceiling fans everywhere and 4 skylights. We wired all rooms with multiple phone lines (we installed cordless phones, which we recommend, so there aren't as many tempting cords) and video jacks (we're intending to put a TV on each floor using wall mounts so the cats can watch animals on the television, but haven't gotten around to it yet). The cats drink bottled water we have delivered every few weeks. We have found this to dramatically cut down on bladder and kidney issues, especially in our male cats.
We insulated all walls, ceilings and floors---even interior ones---to help soundproof the rooms and absorb some of the ambient sound. (We are, after all, the owners of a worldwide acoustical consulting and design firm.) This also helps keep the inside temperature more constant.
The facility has its own HVAC with central air and was outfitted with a PerfectAire™ system, which constantly exchanges inside air for outside air. In addition, we use an ionizer on each floor to constantly cleanse the air. The PerfectAire system and the ionizers work quite well together, so we would encourage you to implement them in your facility. Even with a couple dozen animals in the facility at any one time (we've had as many as four dozen at any one time), you'd be hard pressed to walk in blindfolded and know you were in a facility with animals.
After much research at local and national facilities, we decided to spend the extra dough to put in coved epoxy flooring in all the rooms and BOY are we glad we did. It is literally impervious to even jet fuel, so it's proved itself worthy of use in our rescue facility. It cleans up like a dream. We spent the extra $$ to have the epoxy coved (wrapped) up the wall about 4" in lieu of installing baseboard and shoe mold, which have proven to get urinated on time and time again and continuously need cleaning, caulking and painting. The cove was money well spent and makes it really easy to mop the floors. We also recently purchased a Hoover SpinScrub 800 (model 3060), which helps keep the floors clean.
Due to a brief escape by a cat who poked through the screen wire in one of the screen doors' lower sections (that was supposed to have featured the type of screen that's specifically made for use around animals), we ended up installing plexiglas™ panels over the 4-section bottoms of the screen doors. We rounded the edges and the corners and affixed them with sheet metal screws. This allows the cats to retain the ability to see outside at their level, but keeps them from poking through the screen. Last year, however, we fully enclosed the screen porch with custom windows and its own HVAC. At that time, we reclaimed the unused back porch (shown in one of the pictures below with a grill on it), so now the cats have both the temperature-controlled porch and the screened porch, where they can feel the fresh air and sunshine while watching the deer in the yard.
In lieu of steps, we installed ramps in the treated lumber walkways for the benefit of handicapped people or animals.
All paint used in the facility is CabinetCoat (formerly known as Quick Solution). This paint is much harder than other types and has proven itself to us at this facility and our previous one. It is unbelievably durable and cleanable, goes on like a dream and can be tinted a wide variety of colors. We highly recommend this paint, which the company recently renamed Cabinet Coat when they were bought by Insl-X. To find a CabinetCoat dealer, click here. (Their website is lacking now with regard to info about the product, so check with your dealer for further information.) To see a color chart of Cabinet Coat choices, click here (the image is 800x600 and 120Kb in size; it is unaltered to retain faithfulness of colors as much as possible). The colors we used in our facility are: Prairie Peach, Dewkiss, Maine Gray, Filtered Light, Corner Cupboard, Penelope Pink and White.
When we enclosed the screened porch and installed the HVAC and windows, we painted everything with Porter Advantage 900, which is also a super-hard, cleanable paint. At first we really liked it 'cause it's less expensive than the Cabinet Coat, but over time we've grown not to like it as well because it hasn't held up as well to pee and repeated cleanings. For our money, CabinetCoat is the way to go in an animal facility.
For caulk we like Sherwin Williams 950A. It has proven to take the abuse (pee) the animals dish out and is lasting well for us.
We designed the facility such that we can seclude animals in various rooms or areas if need be. This has worked out quite well thus far...many, many times.
In lieu of the standard solid wood 6-panel pine doors we were going to use, our contractor suggested we use the less expensive molded 6-panel doors because of their lack of seams. This was good advice; when a male cat sprays on a door, which a couple of our rescues do...but not often, there's nowhere for the urine to seep. Also, with the molded doors, you never have to worry about shrinkage, retouching the paint, etc., so we highly recommend them to other facilities. Three of the doors we elected to make steel entry doors with glass top halves with internal pane dividers between two pieces of glass. We installed these in these specific locations so that we'd have 2 relatively dog-proof rooms where we could hold rescued stray dogs until we had a chance to get 'em to the vet. Even with dogs with separation anxiety, with the steel doors and Quick Solution paint we stand less of a chance of a stray trashing his or her temporary surroundings.
Because we're so often carrying animals, bags of litter, pet carriers, etc., on the interior doors we chose to use lever-style brass doorknobs instead of the conventional round style. This makes it easy to open a door with your elbow when your hands are full. Once or twice, one of our larger males has been able to reach up and open a door by pulling down on the lever, but it's not proven to be a consistent problem.
The windows are all double hung, which means that the bottom sections can be raised (which we NEVER DO) and the top sections can be lowered. We had one bad experience, so I'll mention here that when you lower the top section, only crack it about two inches. We made the mistake of lowering a window further one time and a kitty got outside. (We caught her right away and brought her back in...both she and WE had our tails between our legs. We were glad she had been treated with Revolution parasite preventative, which we highly recommend over competing brands.)
We stained and polyurethaned the stairs---but epoxied the landing. Over time, though, the wood used to construct the stairs has shrunk and left some gaps where the treads meet the risers, so at some point we'll either caulk the gaps with clear silicone caulk or install shoe mold (caulked the same way).
If you're perceptive, you'll notice an area above the landing that we call the "perch". Due to the architecture of the facility, this area was going to be walled off and forgotten about, but I told the contractor to epoxy the floor, paint it and dress up the front edge so the cats could hang out there. We leave a plastic step stool on the landing so the cats can climb up to the perch---even the amputee we had with us for some years until she found a home---and they "normally" come down via the stool, too. Uh, unless one of 'em gets spooked really badly and decides to...gulp...JUMP to the landing. This has happened a couple times and BOY does it look and sound painful. Luckily, no cats have gotten hurt.
We painted the lower sections of the screened porch with the best semi-gloss exterior paint we could find and it has worked out well. It's relatively common for two of our male cats to spray the walls of the screened porch, so after the pictures were taken, we installed---and caulked tight---baseboard that improved our cleaning ability.
The facility is attached to our home, which is in the woods, so we can easily sleep in a closed-off room with a sick or dying animal if need be, as well as go out at all hours to do round-the-clock feedings of sick kittens, give subcutaneous fluids to an ill animal, etc. Being in the woods, we have deer in our yard 'most every day, as well as tons of squirrels, chipmunks, groundhogs, large birds, piney squirrels, turtles (we have a small, manmade pond, which is shown in a couple of the pictures) and more. The cats always have something to pique their interest.
We have had full-time cat "nannys" who have worked full-time cleaning, feeding, giving fluids when we can't, brushing, playing with the animals, doing laundry, etc., which really helps, but right now we're without full-time assistance. We have help three or four mornings a week and the cats really enjoy all the treats and brushing.
All in all, we're very satisfied with our facility and it's helped us raise, care for and adopt out to great homes hundreds of animals since we built it. The animals who remain with us as residents are quite happy and fulfilled, too, which is, after all, why we built the facility in the first place.
If you have any questions for us about the construction or layout of our facility, feel free to e-mail us.