Animal shelters are often places of much angst for the animals being rehabilitated, however with the careful persistence of the work of staff and volunteers many cats, dogs and other domesticated animals are given another shot at life with a loving family. Like the Animal Welfare League in Florida, shelters can often be overcrowded due to limited funding, and the cramped environment can have a negative effect on the already vulnerable nature of its inhabitants. With some of the animals already experiencing anxiety and panic, it can be very difficult placing them in caring homes.
When space is limited, and funding is tight, shelters often expand into spaces that weren’t designed to house a large number of animals. With four walls, a roof and flooring, what little funds these shelters have most often goes into providing the basic necessities to keep these animals alive. While these decisions are well-intentioned it can actually be the cause of additional health issues for the animals and staff alike.
Vancouver based acoustics treatment company, Primacoustic, have been providing solutions to help mitigate the intense sound pressure levels in shelters and kennels for several years. Primacoustic's Steve Dickson explains: "More often than not, these shelters are built to withstand the wear and tear of consistently high occupation levels and turnover while also being convenient to keep clean and disease free. This frequently means the use of concrete floors and similarly structured walls. This is a recipe for an auditory nightmare. If you ask someone to describe their perception of visiting an animal shelter, you can be quite certain most will remark on the noise levels above anything else. And this is not just an uncomfortable reality, it's a health issue."
As would be expected, the noise in kennels can be anywhere between 100dB and 118dB. Research has proven that this kind of exposure to noise around the clock, can have a serious physiological and psychological effect on animals, especially dogs. Dogs can detect a frequency range of 67-45,000 Hz, compared to a human range of 64-23,000 Hz and some of these dogs are exposed to this kind of noise for weeks, months or even years.
North Carolina’s Animal Welfare League has been running since 1963 and its staff are no strangers to these challenges. In 2005, the shelter achieved their financing objectives and created a purpose-built facility that accommodates up to 42 dogs. At capacity however, they quickly realised noise levels would soon become an issue, posing a mental and physical risk to the dogs being cared for.
The shelter's representative Aggie Aguila explains "The Board of Directors and staff started researching solutions, having discussions with volunteers, visitors, neighbouring animal shelters and local animal boarding facilities. The solution that became evident included the installation of acoustic treatment panels." They consulted with Primacoustic's Steve Dickson to find a suitable product. In this case, the installation of fabric wrapped fibreglass panels was all that was required to absorb the highly problematic sound waves.
Dickson explains: "We've had years of experience helping dog day cares and animal shelters get their acoustics under control. It's always a pleasure to hear from our clients about the relief they and the animals experience once the treatment has been installed. It never gets old! From a workplace safety standpoint, we ensure the result makes the client's space OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) compliant but more than that, knowing the animals won't needlessly suffer is a great story we like to bring back to the office and share with our team."
The Shelter's Aguila concludes: "The animals, the staff, volunteers and visitors are much happier. The decreased noise level is apparent. It was the best decision we made, for the wellbeing of the animals in our care and the people we interact with on a daily basis. We are truly grateful for the professionalism and the quality of the product. Paws up for everything!"
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