The Mother’s Comfort Project softens shelter life

Giving animals a little bit of comfort while at a shelter.

Dog ShelterHave you ever tried to sleep on a hard concrete floor with only a towel to soften the surface? For most of the homeless dogs and cats in New York City’s municipal shelters, that’s what bedtime means. That’s why New Yorker Susan Brandt launched the Mother’s Comfort Project, to give some of those animals a little bit of comfort while they’re housed at Animal Care and Control of New York City.

That comfort comes in the form of beds stitched together and delivered to New York’s three municipal shelters in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. The volunteers don’t just drop off the beds at the shelters’ front desks, either. Instead, they put each bed into a dog or cat’s cage — and, according to Brandt, the four-legged recipients quickly show their gratitude.

“Each animal has its own way of showing its appreciation — be it a big, slurpy lick or snuggling their faces,” Brandt says. “Like anyone who gets a visit from a friend while in a sterile location, the warmth goes a long way. We leave the shelter and see almost every animal lying on their new beds.”

The project was conceived by Rational Animal, a New York City-based nonprofit Brandt founded in 2002 to foster public awareness of the need to aid animals. The Mother’s Comfort volunteers gather at a rented sewing studio in Brooklyn to construct the beds. While sewers stitch the bed components together, non-sewers cut fabric or padded batting, or deliver fabric to the studio or the beds to the shelters. Brandt estimates the project has made and delivered about 4,000 beds.

Dog Shelter

The NYC shelters have made dramatic progress in recent years, reducing euthanasia rates by more than 60 percent, to fewer than 10,000, according to Animal Care and Control. Still, Brandt and her volunteers know that many of the animals they help will be euthanized to make room for new animals. “But we just hope that [the beds] make them less stressed and less vulnerable to illnesses that are common in the shelter, and hopefully a little happier and showing a better face to potential adopters,” Brandt says.

One sewing volunteer, Deb Cohn-Orbach of New York City, says she’s gratified knowing that her work can make life a little easier for a shelter animal. “The thought of providing them some comfort and making life more joyful for them brings me so much happiness,” she says. “I don’t deliver beds, but I watch videos of Susan and the volunteers bringing the beds to the shelters. When I see a cat or dog immediately lie down on the bed, I feel so satisfied.”

To learn more about the Mother’s Comfort Project, visit, then click on Mother’s Comfort Project in the left-hand column. — Susan McCullough

In honor of the important work done at the Mother’s Comfort Project, will donate 5,000 meals of Halo Spot’s Stew to Rational-Animal.

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