Poisonous Holiday Plants

Was it Mistletoe, Poinsettia, or…? Merry Christmas

Keep your pets safe and have a wonderful Christmas:

Pets and Christmas plants…

Happy Thanksgiving and Safe Travel!

ThanksgivingOutside it’s 70 degrees today here at my studio, this, the Monday before Thanksgiving. The weatherman says that we are expecting snow on Wednesday and Thanksgiving day. Remember your pets in your holiday planning. These warm temps are short lived.

I’m so thankful for all those I have worked with this year in the design of their kennel, shelter or animal hospital, and I’m wishing each one of you a blessed and happy Thanksgiving.

To keep your pets safe, here are some holiday travel ideas.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Connecting Veterans with Jobs

banner-newI first thought with was outside my Kennel Design scope, but not so fast…

Most of you know I’m a US Navy Vet.  I was a corpsman and worked in several land hospitals and on an aircraft carrier that has a hospital on-board with a major trauma center and more beds and treatment facilities than all but the largest of hospitals.  My work started in Labor and Delivery as a very green corpsman, and then Emergency Medicine became my passion.

I have a real fondness for all those who help our veterans and active duty alike. This training has helped me design medical facilities, clinics, hospitals, both human and animal facilities all across the USA and beyond.  Having worked in the industry gives me a distinct advantage in designing these spaces, and I am most grateful for it and for the Navy.

A few days ago, I connected with Lucy Jensen on LinkedIn.  She has a website that connects veterans to employment, worldwide. It has been said, that, at any given time, there are an estimated 50,000 unemployed vets in this great country, and even more now after 911.   Here, in her own words, she outlines her work, and I thank her for it.

Flag“We work to connect military veterans and their families seeking civilian jobs with companies who have open career opportunities. If you or anyone in your network is looking for work either stateside or overseas, I encourage you to check out the job posts in the Careers Directory of my site http://www.military-civilian.com. All career postings are free to view, with no login required, and you can submit your resume directly there. You can also sign up for our Hot Jobs newsletter or RSS feeds to get all our job posts straight to your inbox, or join our Hot Jobs for Veterans and their Families group on LinkedIn at http://bit.ly/Military-Civilian. Thanks for the opportunity to share this–the more we spread the word, the more veterans we can help find jobs!”

There are all kind of jobs listed, even veterinary. So spread the word!! Please repost, like, share, pin, well, you know) this blog. Most of all, thank you to Lucy for connecting veterans with jobs. Then, on Veterans Day, Tuesday, November 11, thank a vet and an active duty solider for all those freedoms you enjoy everyday.

We Need MONEY and You’re Not Invited, but…


I get a number of invitations every week to attend some kind of fundraising event.  There are so many needs today, everywhere you look, and every humane society is no different. Being creative is very important to set yourself apart. This is the first time I’ve gotten an invite, that told me not to come…



All too often I see marketing campaigns that either are too little or are way over-the-top.  For example, too little might be a bake sale.  You are going to need to sell a lot of pies to fill your building fund.  Over-the-top might be, renting the local country club ballroom for thousands of dollars, to host a dinner and dance for a house full of would be donors.  You are going to need to sell a lot of tickets just to cover your expenses.

I would add professional fundraisers to this mix as well. Many big not-for-profit organizations spend hundreds of thousands on professional fundraisers.  Their ROI is often less than half, sometimes a mere 10 percent of the total dollars raised.

Then today, You’re Not Invited hits my inbox. You spread the word, you invite everyone to your big NO-Show Ball event, and you post the schedule of events:

7pm – NO Cocktails

8pm – NO Dinner

9pm – NO Program

10pm – NO Dancing

Please do NOT join us for this event.

Next, you outline what this event will save each person who doesn’t come:

NO gown to buy

NO tux to rent

NO missed football game

NO hair dresser costs

NO sitter

NO dinner to buy

NO need to go out in the cold


So, all the money that each ‘non-attendee’ saves, can now go directly to the dogs!


When marketing your project, think big, think broad, and spend little!

More thoughts regarding marketing


Quarantine, Whether Ebola or Parvovirus, Think INSIDE The Box!


Ocean Shipping Containers assembled creating a mobile hospital!

sThis latest outbreak of Ebola has me concerned. Now, I am certainly no doctor or scientist. I’m an architectural designer. I design animal shelters, boarding kennels, military and police kennels and veterinary hospitals too. Most of these buildings have quarantine rooms in their designs, and that’s what sparks my concern.

I do have a little bit of medical background. I was a US Navy hospital corpsman, an ER staff corpsman, a battle dressing station triage officer, and an ACLS paramedic. I went through the Navy’s training for handling of and the treatment of patients infected with chemical and biological warfare weapons. Back then, it was my job to run towards the fire, the sick and the injured, or the flooding on a ship to fix problems. Today, I design solutions.

Last week on C-Span, I listened to the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations as they try to find answers. Tim Murphy, Chairman, Pennsylvania, outlined that mistakes have been made thus far here in the USA.  He also said that 1000 people are entering this country each week from “Ebola hot zones.” I certainly understand that we must protect our homeland, and perhaps travel restrictions are warranted, but there is more that needs to be done, and done right now!  It is estimated that more than 4500 people have died as of this writing.

Chairman Murphy noted that the number of Ebola outbreaks in Africa are doubling every three weeks. It seems to me that more effort needs to be directed at stopping ebola at its source. The African hospital workers must have, not only the proper medications and equipment, but they must also have the proper facilities to contain this deadly virus.

Containment is likely the only way to prevent the spread. Last week, I saw a video where a hospital worker was exiting an isolation ward, walking through clear plastic doors, then across the dirt ground where he stepped through a pan of liquid, presumably a disinfectant for his shoes.  This is simply not enough.

How can these hospital conditions be changed, and right now, to expedite the eradication of ebola?

Building new hospitals is simply out of the question. It would take too long and too many would die waiting for a bed. This has been going through my head day and night, and then it came to me, maybe the answer is…

Ocean Shipping Containers!


Advantages of building a single-level hospital from available shipping containers.

  • Containers make for fast manufacturing–the frame is already to go
  • Containers are strong
  • Containers are a cheap buildings
  • Containers are plentiful, there are thousands of used containers stacked at every seaport
  • Containers may be renovated fairly easily to allow for:
    • Windows
    • Skylights
    • Air-tight man-doors
    • Roll-up storage doors
    • HVAC mechanical systems
  • Containers are easy to ship
  • Containers make for easy-setup once delivered on-site
  • Containers may be insulated to suit most any climate, cold or hot
  • Containers are watertight
  • Containers are air-tight
  • Containers have steel interior walls that could be easily cleaned and sanitized.
  • The only drawback, they have a wooden floor, but there are several options.

More than 21,000 shipping containers enter this country on a daily basis. These extremely strong, steel, air-tight boxes can be quickly modified to make most any kind of room needed. Fitted with proper lighting, plumbing and HVAC, (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning), they can be renovated quickly to make quarantine wards, offices, treatment rooms, labs, pharmacy, X-ray rooms, break rooms, supply and storerooms or, of course, kennels. They could even be used for housing for emergency personnel or most any other need. When shipped, each could be packed with all the medical supplies, beds/bedding, HVAC equipment, water heaters, generators, and supplies needed for the specific emergency at hand.

The interior walls and ceilings are metal and may be painted for easy cleaning. The floors are wood, and may be finished a welded sheet goods material or an epoxy finished concrete.  Just as in any hospital, the entire inside, then, can be sanitized and the waste water vacuumed from the floor.  If no sewage is available or if it is inappropriate for the specific emergency, the water would be collected into storage tanks awaiting treatment.

Once arrived on site, the units would be anchored and the exterior walls and roof would receive spray polyurethane foam insulation, as thick as needed to maintain proper indoor temperatures. Then the exterior would be finished with a spray elastomeric or other roofing material.  With proper planning, a little engineering, and some site development while in transit, these units could be occupied within days upon delivery.

So, whether parvovirus in animals or ebola in Africa, think INSIDE the box for emergency quarantine!  When you have a need for an overflow kennel, or disaster relief housing, consider shipping containers as an affordable emergency shelter/quarantine kennel, or a full fledged hospital to combat an ebola crisis in West Africa.

Please share this article. Just maybe, it will spark an the right idea, in the right minds.

God’s blessing to those sick and to their health workers.

Fast, Low Income Housing Using Containers

Multi-Level container Hospitals 

Kennel Design Services

Kennel Design Services

Your Drawings Are Ready!

Whether You Need Just a Simple Plan, A Full Building and Site Kennel Design, or Just Consulting Services; We Have You Covered!

I often get questions about the kennel design services that we offer and the costs involved. This post explains what we do.

We design projects for:

  • Boarding Kennels
  • Pet Hotels
  • Animal Daycare
  • Animal Shelters
  • Veterinary Hospitals
  • Police, Military & Homeland Working Dog Kennels
  • And even private Chicken Coops
    We do it all.

Our services are available in two ways:

  • Design Services:

    Depending on your needs, we develop plans for your project based on the information you provide from our Conceptual Kennel Design Purchase Order Form. Each project is unique, and so, each is customized to the clients’ specific needs.  It costs no more to get exactly what you want.  Working from the office here in Pennsylvania, or meeting with clients’ anywhere in the world, our work extends to countries around the globe.

    Working one on one with clients, we develop as much, or as little, as the project demands. From offering design ideas, to preparing complete construction documents, we only provide what you need. This keeps your costs very low; you’ll never pay for unneeded services and building design fees start as low as $800.00 USD.

  • Consulting Services

    Sometimes, a client needs just a little information regarding their existing building, or perhaps needs specific information about a portion of an upcoming project they are planning.  Perhaps an architect is needing information regarding a kennel project for which they have never designed in the past.

    In these cases, we offer consulting services to answer questions guiding them to a successful project.

So what ever the need, we can design a solution.  Call me anytime, I’m usually, here in the studio designing a kennel.


Support Hotels for Pets!

Pets Deserve a Red Roof Holiday Travel Motel-K9 Lodge Too!

I make my living designing animal shelters and boarding kennels and catteries. My projects have been all across the USA and in other countries around the world.

As with most designers, an architect friend of mine got a little behind in his work. So, for the last few weeks, I have been helping him with the design of a new Holiday Inn hotel. That got me to thinking, wouldn’t it be nice if all hotels had a small, attached, clean, secure boarding kennel to keep watch over the four-legged (or feathered) family member, while you were at the beach? Hotels for Pets!!

Perhaps the next time you are booking a room, you might ask what the rates are for the kennel? When they tell you that they don’t have a kennel, then ask, “Why not?!”

Therapy dog to help Marine keep demons of war at bay

God Bless them all, and God Bless America.

There is so much that we are still learning about the benefits of companion animals and therapy dogs. Gordon, the world’s greatest dog, adds so much to my life here in the studio. I think all dogs could, given the chance.



Here is a link to a wonderful story about a U.S. Marine and his new black lab, Lucy. His doctor is hopeful that Lucy will help him recover from his PTSD, Post-Traumatic-Stress-Dissorder. The article indicates that as many as twenty percent of those who served in Afghanistan and Iraq are returning home with this disorder.

So, the next time you pass a person in uniform severing our country, or see that veteran that lives just down the street, thank them for their service.

Need Kennel Plans, Please See Our New Website!!

Kennel_Design_headerNeed kennel plans?
See our new website posted this week!!  Comments welcome!


Since 2003, we have been designing boarding kennels, animal shelters, police, military & US Homeland Security working dog kennels, veterinarian hospitals, horse barns, riding stables, and
even a chicken coop, now and again,
and all over the globe!!


A Craig L. McAllester, Inc. company

Animal Shelter Fundraising


The Need

All across North America, I see animal shelters that are literally falling down. Many of these facilities were built years ago with wood construction. The water used for cleaning the kennel has worked its way into the structure of the building, which is now rotting it away, and money cannot stretch far enough to fix them.

For old masonry kennels, those walls may be cracked or broken or perhaps the finish has been scratched off by years of wear. This allows water and urine to get inside the hollow masonry blocks where it causes mold to grow. The need for proper housing is so great everywhere I turn.


Over the years, I have seen so many cases where, when it rains, water drips, or even pours into a kennel soaking the animals contained within. With such high occupancies, there is simply no dry place to keep them. Government funding is simply not available to replace these shelters.

I have seen kennel stalls that were so crammed with dogs that they could barley move, or sit, much less, lie down. I have seen exit corridors that were stacked full-height with crates–animals, literally stacked to the ceiling, simply because of overcrowding.

I frequently see where areas that once had been a bathroom, a food prep room, a reception room, a blanket storage room or janitor’s closet are now being used to house animals. Then those other spaces are pushed into a hallway or are done without entirely, making everyday tasks so much more difficult. than they have to be. The need for a major renovation, or an entirely new building, seems to be, and likely is, the only answer.


With these seemingly impossible conditions, it’s difficult to maintain a qualified staff of volunteers to tend to the endless daily tasks of cleaning the kennels, washing bowls, feeding and walking the animals. Sometimes the building design, or lack there of, makes the conditions even worse. The flow of the building simply does not work for the task intended.

So, What Do You Do?

Most often, I see shelters doing bake sales to raise money. If that is the only source of income, then they are going to need to sell a lot of pies for a new building. Then, they will need to sell a lot more pies to operate and maintain it. So, what are the other options to increase your building fund?

First, broaden your thinking. Ideas will come from the strangest places. I was having a hand splint made after my surgery. A young physical therapists said that she was also a graphic designer and had helped design a shelter fundraising calendar.

They used a local school gymnasium to photograph a pack of rescue dogs while young volunteer staff members were playing with the dogs. The set and photo-op was all donated. The printing cost was three dollars each and the calendars sold-out, right away, at ten dollars each. Calendars are great, because it is a reoccurring opportunity.

I saw a post where some school children created colorful artwork depicting pets that had been adopted. The art was sold raising several hundred dollars for the Maryland SPCA. Every dime helps.

Almost forty years ago, I was a volunteer paramedic. Occasionally, we held a dinner for raising money, but without fail, every single year, our organization made a deal with a local car dealership to raffle off a new car. The ticket sales generated well more than enough to pay for the car. The drawing took place on the last day of the Clearfield County Fair. I bet that drawing is still a big event when hundreds gather to see if they happened to be the lucky winner.

My point is this: Pies alone will not a kennel make! Fundraising must be an overlapping, never-ending and reoccurring effort. Turn that ‘table of pies’ into a fundraising event. Make it an event that the entire community will be talking about until the one next year. Doing so, like the car raffle, will generate continued interest and support.

Where To Get Started?

In some cases, clients may have a hefty nest egg or perhaps an inherited sum of money. I have seen projects where a single distribution had been several million dollars, but this is certainly not the norm.

For everyone else, it’s more likely that a would-be donor would more likely donate to some thing as opposed to some idea. To market your project to both the community and to any prospective donor, these drawings will show your vision clearly:

Regardless who designs your project, before you start, be sure you understand what your design fees will be. The highest design fee I have ever heard about was over ninety thousand dollars. Now, that would buy a lot of dog food! Know your costs up-front!

For my clients, we first prepare a conceptual floor plan and building elevations. These are designed based on the clients’ individual needs, and information that they provide. With these drawings in-hand, conceptual pricing can begin.  This also allows you to start working with lending institutions, and even the city development and building departments.

Next, we can develop a rendering of the building. Renderings make wonderful marketing tools. Post a large picture of your project in your lobby or even out on the front lawn. Run a piece in the local paper with your vision graphically displayed. Now you can show the public your vision and how much it is going to cost.

This helps to generate excitement from the public. Most importantly, this design gives you a direction, or destination; and without that, you simply cannot arrive.

I know it’s not easy, because, I see it every day. It pains me to see it, but it gives me great joy when a project is completed and the animals are moved in. Build the plan, and you will soon be on your way to your new destination.

Helpful Links and Other Ideas

A social media thought: This is a powerful tool to market your fundraising and to share your adoption successes. Be selective in your posts. Remember that every charity is soliciting for the same dollar that you need—post accordingly!