Leader 4-20

Page 7

Page 7 • The Leader • April 20, 2013 • www.theleadernews.com

Time to nurture love of nature

Earth Day ethic seen in ‘green’ animal shelter

by Dennis Woodward For The Leader

by Jenny Jurica For The Leader Walking into the sun-drenched lobby of the Friends For Life Animal Shelter and Sanctuary, one is made immediately aware that this place is different from any other animal shelter in the city or, quite possibly, in the world. Located in the heart of the Heights, at 107 E. 22nd St., near Yale, the shelter, built on reclaimed urban land (using original and repurposed materials in the process) boasts that it not only operates as the city’s only no-kill shelter but also Houston’s only LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, green animal facility. Friends For Life subscribes to the belief that a shelter can be successful and still be an accessible community resource, environmentally responsible and a true guardian of the animals in its care. From the large picture windows, skylights and open design, bathing the building in natural light, to the air handling system that provides 100 percent outside air to the building--(the air in every space is turned over 15 times per hour) it’s clear that the “old school” animal shelter system, with its odor, illness, and general feeling of despair, is a thing of the past. Executive director Salise Shuttlesworth feels as though Friends For Life’s model is the wave of the future. Under the direction of Gensler, a local architecture firm and with the guidance of Animal Arts--a Boulder, Colo.-based architecture firm, specializing in animal care facilities--Friends For Life’s space is designed entirely from the point of view of the animals that it houses. Sound baffling creates a quiet, serene space, even when the shelter is full of vocal dogs on the weekends. “Sniff holes” are in place on the glass doors of the dog rooms, so that dogs may sniff their environment and get a sense of calm in knowing who’s coming and going in the walkways around them.

A volunteer plays with the cats waiting for a ‘forever home’ at Friends for Life’s green, no-kill shelter in the Heights. (Submitted photo) The in-wall wet vacuum system ensures that rooms, such as the cats’ cage-less rooms are kept sanitized, free from disease-causing, waterborne bacteria and odor. According to the organization, it’s estimated that the LEED design of Friends For Life will save the shelter $110,000 over five years. This, in turn, provides Friends For Life the opportunity to save 458 dogs and cats and spay or neuter 1,718 animals. The excitement generated, due to the success of this shelter, is palpable in the feeling of optimism and fun among the army of dedicated volunteers and staff. Friends for Life boasts that 75 percent of its animals would be deemed “unadoptable” at more traditional shelters) and the facility treats each animal with dignity. Friends For Life always welcomes visitors to come in, tour the facility and visit with the animals in residence there. Beginning on Earth Day on April 22 through April 28, adopters will receive half-off adoption fees and receive a free gift basket, full of eco-friendly pet products from Natural Pawz. Visit Friends For Life online at: www.nokill1.org.

Maybe the solution is with the primary caregivers. We continue to mow down the bluebonnets because we fail to see the beauty. We don’t see the beauty because we are simply not taught what real beauty is from a young age. Sure, we are driven out of the city to see nature and bluebonnets. However, each and every day we can see the beauty of nature right where we live. We simply need to allow it to exist. The monarch butterfly is a glaring example. We have destroyed much of the monarch habitat. However, there are places that are on the fringes of our farms, parks, railroads, rivers, ditches and bayous where milkweed still lives. I never knew that there were over a hundred varieties of milkweed. I simply planted the variety that is sold in local nurseries. All you need is one plant. The seeds from that plant will make more. If you plant it, then you will have monarchs. So, please take that delightful child of yours and purchase some milkweed if you do not have any. After you acquaint your child with the monarch you will most assuredly add other butterfly host plants. Now is also the high point of the spring migration. Each day thousands, if not tens of thousands of birds are passing through our area. We are not aware because so much of our lives are inside. There is a

doubt they like it one little bit. Finally, there are hundreds of babies to feed in nests. What a racket it is. Spoonbills, snowy egrets, great egrets, and cormorants raise their young on the island. Alligators wait hopefully and patiently for a meal. Survival of the fittest is a lesson that is cruel to learn, but it is part of the system. Sometimes I wish I did not love nature so much. It certainly would be a lot easier to ignore the city crew mowing down the bluebonnets. I believe the solution is to spend time in nature with your little ones. Please find me on Facebook if you want some seeds or plants that will attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your property. It may be too late for adults. My hope is with the very young. Woodward gardens at his home in Shepherd Park Plaza and does restorative planting on public properties.

place about an hour and a half drive from Houston called High Island. It is neither very high, nor is it an island. It is a salt dome formation very close to the beach. Please take your little ones to High Island this year. The rookery is worth the trip. From what I have been told birds leave the Yucatan peninsula at night and fly north on favorable winds. They are returning to North America from Central and South America. They begin arriving about 3:15 p.m. and leave by about 10 a.m. the next day. Some fantastic migrants that I have seen in my 10-plus visits to High Island are the painted bunting, vermillion flycatcher, hooded warbler, American redstart, rose breasted grosbeak, and cerulean warbler. There are of course scores of other birds that stop at High Island on their way north. You must see the rookery. The rookery is an island about 200-300 feet long. It is about 60 feet from several observation platforms built specifically to accommodate the hundreds of people that visit each year. First, the rookery is a big bird orgy. Okay, it is really a mating bonanza. Then those mother birds just sit, sit, sit, and, I


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