The real-life room at the ASPCA Adoption Center provides enrichment and relaxation to dogs who are spending time in the shelter, as they prepare for life with an adoptive family. Credit: ASPCA®

Real-Life Room introduces vulnerable dogs who often require specialized medical and behavioral support to a comforting home environment as they prepare for adoption

/PRNewswire/Just in time for the holidays, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) has unveiled its newly redesigned “real-life room” for dogs at the ASPCA Adoption Center in New York City. The new room was designed in collaboration with Dayna Isom Johnson, a trend expert for Etsy, Inc. and judge on the Emmy-nominated, NBC primetime series “Making It,” who decorated the room to benefit dogs preparing for life in an adoptive home. The space provides dogs with a break from some of the stresses commonly encountered in a shelter setting while also allowing them to learn valuable skills that will set them up for success in a home.

“Many of the animals we support at the ASPCA Adoption Center require an individualized approach to help them blossom into someone’s perfect pet. These are animals who may otherwise be overlooked due to their medical or behavioral challenges,” said Rachel Maso, director of animal behavior at the ASPCA Adoption Center. “This room provides enrichment that would not be possible in a traditional shelter setting while allowing our staff and volunteers to learn about each dog and teach them new skills along the way. We are grateful to Dayna and her creative vision for revamping our real-life room to benefit vulnerable dogs this holiday season and into the future.”

Designed to resemble a home environment, the real-life room at the ASPCA Adoption Center provides dogs with the opportunity to decompress while in the shelter and a quiet retreat where they can practice essential skills. To enhance the experience for dogs, the walls are painted a soothing blue, one of two colors that dogs can discern, and the space includes details such as a camera to monitor dogs being treated for separation anxiety, frosted windows to provide privacy from other animals, a washable rug, and storage for training tools. Additional elements include the ability to play relaxing music, a multifunctional crate that acts as a cozy den and illustrations on the walls celebrating former ASPCA dogs who have been adopted into loving homes.

“My dog was adopted after having a difficult start to life, so collaborating with the ASPCA Adoption Center was an exciting way to benefit other dogs in need—all while taking inspiration from design trends that are enjoyed by pets and people alike,” said Dayna. “The ASPCA provides incredible support for animals who may often be overlooked, and it was only natural to work together to bring the simple joys that a cozy space can provide to dogs who are still learning their way around experiences they may encounter in the home.”

Thousands of homeless animals across the country and in New York City require specialized care, and in some cases, continued support after they have been adopted, due to their medical or behavioral needs. Many of the animals who find adoptive placement through the ASPCA Adoption Center in New York City are learning to trust again after enduring cruelty and neglect—which has prevented them from enjoying even the most basic comforts and experiences—or are often passed over by adopters and may spend more time in the shelter. The ASPCA focuses on assisting these animals and supports its longstanding partner Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC), the only open-admission shelter in New York City, by welcoming animals who require additional resources to alleviate pressure on ACC’s shelter operations. The real-life room will be an essential step for the many dogs helped by the ASPCA on their journey in New York City as the organization continues to care for this vulnerable animal population.

The ASPCA encourages the public to keep an open mind when adopting, as each animal is seeking the right match for their unique personality, and you may go home with a dog you hadn’t previously considered. To learn more about dogs available for adoption through the ASPCA Adoption Center in New York City or at your local shelter, visit

About the ASPCA®
Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) was the first animal welfare organization to be established in North America and today serves as the nation’s leading voice for vulnerable and victimized animals. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation with more than two million supporters nationwide, the ASPCA is committed to preventing cruelty to dogs, cats, equines, and farm animals throughout the United States. The ASPCA assists animals in need through on-the-ground disaster and cruelty interventions, behavioral rehabilitation, animal placement, legal and legislative advocacy, and the advancement of the sheltering and veterinary community through research, training, and resources. For more information, visit, and follow the ASPCA on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Ahead of the holidays, Dayna Isom Johnson stopped by the ASPCA Adoption Center to redecorate the real-life room for dogs. Credit: ASPCA®