Happily Ever After (HEA) Animal Sanctuary in northeast Wisconsin was founded in 2006 by Amanda Reitz at the age of 21 with the support of her parents Ken and Lois Reitz. The animal shelter began in a garage in 2006. Today the facilities include a Sanctuary (a 90+ year old renovated barn of the late Lester Bork) located on 40 sprawling acres in Marion, WI and an Adoption Center in Green Bay, WI. The vision is to create “A world where the life of every companion animal matters . . . Every. Single. One.” Five pillars make it possible to provide both temporary and lifetime care to companion animals including adoption, education, spay/neuter, rehabilitation and sanctuary.
Happily Ever After had operated a 975-square-foot adoption facility in Green Bay, WI since 2010. Although they were able to successfully facilitate adoptions
for hundreds of animals, the location was so small that it didn’t help them tell their story of fully taking care of each and every animal. A donor gifted a 3,000-square- foot building - triple the size of the
previous center – in 2015. It also includes 7,000-square-feet of outdoor play space for dogs. However, the building was not in the best condition to provide an experience for people who walked in that felt like home rather than an animal shelter.
In addition to 3,000 hours of volunteer time to renovate the new building to ensure the experience they wanted visitors to have when visiting their facility, Happily Every After knew that materials selection was another important aspect to help them reach their goals. Happily Ever After selected Mason Company to provide glass doors for dog kennels as well as individual cat condos, rather than cages with bars.
The larger facility has allowed Happily Ever After to slightly increase the number of animals on display, but quantity wasn’t the goal as much as quality of life.
“We weren’t looking to increase the number of animals in terms of capacity; we were looking to ensure the right experience for every visitor, as we believe the right experience will produce more adoptions,” said Marcus Reitz, HEA Branding and Development and the brother of founder, Amanda Reitz. “Using Mason Company as our animal housing provider allowed us to achieve our goals.”
Happily Ever After has six dog units approximately 30 square feet each and selected Mason Company’s glass doors with stainless steel. Reitz said it was an advantage that the doors are customizable as kennel spaces weren’t exactly precise and they were able to measure each one to ensure each door would properly fit each kennel.
Happily Ever After has 12 Raintree Cat condo units as well as four communal rooms with exterior windows to house approximately 40 cats. The Raintree Cat condos are designed with a unique tin roof that recreates the feeling of a barn to tie back to the sanctuary.
The new building opened in August of 2016 and not only provides Happily Ever After with more space, but also creates a completely different adoption experience for the local community.
“The community reception to date is very positive,” said Reitz. “Everyone that walks in the door says WOW, we love it!”
Happily Ever After has a mix of small and large dogs, and Mason Company’s glass doors ensure the dogs can be seen.
“Being seen makes a big difference for public adoption for dogs,” said Reitz. “The glass keeps the units looking clean and really inviting and creates the experience we are looking for. Everything clicks.”
For cats, Mason Company’s Raintree Cat condos provide a clean, crisp feeling with unique selling aspects that help Happily Ever After tell people their story.
“Mason Company’s Raintree Cat Condos have a gap behind the glass to provide fresh air and prevent upper respiratory problems in cats, which is consistent with our goal to provide quality air through energy recovery ventilators that exchange air in the building to keep it fresh,” said Reitz. “The materials look great, but they are also functional and it is an added bonus that the cat condos cover our HVAC ventilation system and pipes.”
Additionally, Reitz said the hidden litter is ideal for the privacy cats needs but also is aesthetically pleasing in creating an experience for visitors. He said cats are happy moving in the additional space offered with the portals, climbing areas and the extra resting shelf offered with Mason Company’s Raintree Cat Condos.
Between its foster network, sanctuary and adoption facility, Happily Ever After serves approximately 200 animals.
“Our ultimate goal is to have an impact on turnover,” said Reitz. “While it’s a little early to quantify that with our adoption facility, we feel like it is incredibly valuable as our donors, prospective donors and volunteers realize what we’re doing as an organization and what we are ultimately presenting to our community in terms of how animals are safe and cared for until we can find them a forever home.”