As the largest no-kill shelter/sanctuary in Florida, our philosophy avows that once an animal is accepted for adoption, it will not be destroyed to make room for another.
The Animal Refuge Center, Inc. (ARC) began as a hope for an alternative to euthanasia to deal with the problems of unwanted, healthy animals, and advocate the prevention of cruelty to animals. Unfortunately, euthanasia was the solution in 1987 for most cats and dogs in Lee County.
In 1991, by soliciting donations from a committed community and obtaining a mortgage, the Animal Refuge Center was able to purchase its current home, situated on 22 acres in N. Ft. Myers.
In 2002 ARC began an “animal behavior” program by bringing in a certified behaviorist to instruct staff and volunteers. Our hope was to help all of our canine residents become more well-behaved, sociable and adoptable.
In 2004 the “ARC Academy” was formed to allow for ongoing training of our canines. Additional training and exercise yards were constructed on an acre of property. The result? A dramatic increase in adoptions of our larger canines...
In 2008, ARC added an indoor Training Center for dog behavioral training and basic obedience. A certified pet trainer was also added to its operation to facilitate identifying canine issues, assessing the needs of new intakes, and charting treatment programs as needed for canines with behavioral issues.
Throughout the last twenty nine years, the number of animals that are cared for at ARC has grown from 100 to at times, over 500. Therefore, the facilities in which to house these homeless pets have also grown. Presently there are 10 main buildings housing felines: The Gable Village, The Ekstrom Cottage, The Harley House, The Mary Williams Kitten Cottage, The Casa Marie, The Casa Luis, the Dixie D, Aeries Place, Maises Place and Beesley's Hide Away.
In addition we have 5 small cottages where cats are often placed for their introductory period. The Krieger Canine Village, McAllister Park and ARC Park are composed of 39 air-conditioned dog lodges for anywhere from one to two dogs to reside. A doggy door allows them to go in and out of their lodge at will into their own play yard that has an awning for shade and a child’s pool for wading.
The promise and potential of ARC lies in the fact that we are currently only built out on half of our property. Ten acres still remains undeveloped, waiting for the day that it can double our capacity. We remain ever hopeful that one day our community and major investors will embrace this vision and make ARC even more successful in saving the lives of unwanted pets.