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Animal Humane Society Tries Out 'Open Habitat' For Dogs In Golden Valley

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley is experimenting with an "open habitat" space for housing dogs.

According to AHS, traditional shelter housing – rows of individual kennels -- can bring out fear and distress in dogs.

"Dogs are social animals, and it's very stressful for them to hear and smell other dogs without being able to see or interact with them," Animal Humane Society President and CEO Janelle Dixon said.

Construction for the new habitat prototype began in January 2018, and features shared living space for up to six dogs with individual dens.

Dixon says AHS is planning for a new St. Paul shelter to replace the agin facility in Como Park, and it's an opportunity to experiment in the way shelters care for dogs.

Check out the space in the video below:

"We want to make sure our future facility will represent the best way to house dogs," Dixon said.

Dixon says she's not aware of another animal welfare organization that has successfully conquered this method.

AHS says the new habitat is not only better for dogs, but also the humans who come and interact with the adoptable pets.

"It has to be two spaces in one — one that's ideal for the dogs and welcoming to potential adopters. The goal is for adopters to be immersed in the dogs' environment instead of the other way around. You're more likely to experience a dog's true personality that way," Anne Johnson, director of shelter services, said.

The new habitat opened to the public in June.

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