Habitat design is very important when planning a sanctuary for a number of reasons. The highest priority is to ensure the safety of all the animals in your care. No animal should ever be injured due to poor design or construction. Many facilities attempt to cut corners in construction costs by crowding wolfdogs in small pens side by side. This may cut down on initial expenses however; eventually they pay dearly in emergency veterinary costs or worse.
Many dog breeds and a variety of animal species are very territorial and if their cage or habitat is attached to an adjacent cage this can lead to aggressive displays in dominance or full blown fence fighting. Fence fighting can be dangerous. Regardless of the size or strength of the fencing materials animals can get body parts through the fence and it can lead to major injuries or death. Ears, noses and paws can slip through the smallest chainlink; teeth can get caught in chainlink as the animal attempts to bite the fencing. Fences constructed with game fencing or wire panels have much larger spacing than chainlink and can allow for even more damage. Some believe installing a panel of sheet metal will provide an adequate barrier. This only adds to the risk of injury due to it's sharp edges.
Here are a few examples from three wolfdogs Indigo Mountain rescued over the years. These animals all suffered varying degrees of permanent damage due to fence fighting.
Kenai came to us from a refuge who had wolves and wolfdogs housed in side-by-side 9 gauge chain link cages. She was missing the tips of her ears and had numerous wounds all over her muzzle from fence fighting when she arrived at Indigo Mountain.
Shasta lost part of her ear tips and had deep gashes on the top of her muzzle due to fence fighting at another sanctuary.
Ahkia came from a small breeding facility where she lived in overcrowded chain link dog runs. She tussled with a dog in an adjacent cage one day and lost a portion of her upper lip and a good section of her muzzle. When she arrive at Indigo Mountain in 2003 the disfigurement was still quite obvious.