The shelter is no place for any pet. But sadly, due to unfortunate circumstance, some pets still end up spending a portion of their life at the shelter. Even the selfless efforts of shelter staff and nonprofit animal advocates are no match for the anxiety and sadness that comes with living in a kennel.
Studies have shown that a mere 15 minutes of human interaction, such as petting, is effective in decreasing anxiety for shelter animals. But with the number of animals at the shelter needing attention compared to the handful of workers available, there is not enough time for shelter personnel to attend to this need.
Sarah with Herbie, an 80-year-old Aldabra Tortoise at the Reid Park Zoo.
According to the director of S.H.A.P.E., "the overall goal is to provide fun activities and training for the animals during the day to keep them occupied, as well as making them more adoptable.” She added that S.H.A.P.E. is different from what the shelter has done in the past because it allows the animals to each get some one-on-one time every week to go on walks, have training sessions, and some play time. S.H.A.P.E. does not only allow the animals to have socialization, but it also helps bring out their individual personality so the shelter can match them with the perfect adopter.
Noah and Sarah with furbabies Rocky and Apollo
Maestro, 1-year-old main coon mix available for adoption at the Altus Animal shelter.
So, AAWA and the City of Altus partnered with Maddie’s Fund (a national animal welfare foundation) to create the Shelter Health and Pet Enrichment Program or S.H.A.P.E. This program aims to develop activities that will enhance the overall health and well-being of animals housed at the Altus Animal Shelter.
The program is directed by Sarah Nicole Facemire, a young veterinary technician assistant from Tucson, Arizona. She moved to Altus to support her husband, Noah who is currently stationed at the Altus Air Force Base. Sarah, a certified animal lover, has worked in Tucson as an apprentice zookeeper. She has experience working with the big cats, giraffes, giant tortoises, and many species of birds.
Sarah and Steven, a stray with a broken leg currently under the care of the animal shelter
Sarah would love to share this experience with the Altus community. She is currently looking for volunteers who not only love animals, but also have some understanding of basic training techniques and knowledge of animal safety.
Whether you’re looking for a fun way to get some steps in or just want to share your love with the animals at the shelter, the S.H.A.P.E. program is the perfect opportunity for you.
If you are interested in this volunteer opportunity please email us: or message us on Facebook.