First cage-less animal shelter in US opens

Best Friends Pet Resource Center in Bentonville, Arkansas, is changing 150 years of animal sheltering.

Shelter pets are officially cage-free at the new Best Friends Pet Resource Center in Bentonville, Arkansas, they opened the doors of the first-of-its-kind facility on Saturday, March 11, welcoming community members and animal lovers inside to check out the new pet digs.

Unlike traditional animal shelters filled with cages and kennels, this new center in Arkansas takes a free-range approach, allowing its dogs and cats to inhabit rooms within the shelter.

Every pet up for adoption through the facility is matched up with a local foster family who takes them in each night and returns them to the center during the day. That way, the animals are available for adoption events and opportunities.

Best Friends Animal Society aims to make America’s shelters kill-free by 2025. (Russell Bloodworth Photography)


Susan Cosby, senior adviser of strategy and integration at Best Friends Animal Society, told Fox News Digital she believes the facility will cause a disruption in the sheltering industry.

“Right here in Northwest Arkansas, we’re actually creating the future of animal sheltering that we hope is going to be a model for our nation,” she said in an interview.

“Animal sheltering for the past 150 years has been really dependent on cages and kennels, bringing animals into an institutional system that wasn’t really designed to be overly friendly to the public,” she also said.


A family takes home a puppy at the grand opening of Best Friends Pet Resource Center in Bentonville, Arkansas, on March 11, 2023. (Russell Bloodworth Photography)

The traditional animal shelter model “misses the mark” when it comes to how humans interact with animals both as companions and family members, said Cosby, who is based in Kanab, Utah.

The new center serves “both ends of the leash,” she said. It allows visitors to enjoy the space’s amenities — including an indoor slide for humans — while learning about how they can help animals in their community.

The facility features artwork by local northwest Arkansas artists, comfortable lounge spaces, free WiFi and a coffee shop fueled by local roaster Third Space Coffee.