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Published: Nov 18, 2011

In an effort to get rescued animals adopted and to spread adoption awareness, Monica Nolan, the shelter director at the Ventura County Animal Shelter in California, has opened up a new pet adoption shop at the local mall, the Thousand Oaks Acorn reports.

Nolan had been protesting against pet stores that received their animals from puppy mills for years, because while working at the shelter, she saw countless - more than 10,000 pets a year - brought to the shelter and forgotten.

She then got the idea to open up a shelter shop at the mall to help these deserving pets get adopted. Nolan spoke with members of the NewMark Merrill Companies, which owns the nearby Janss Marketplace mall, and after hearing her idea, the company decided to donate a vacant storefront to set up the Bark Avenue Foundation pet shop.

The group also received a $15,000 grant from The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to run the store. The shop will house 20 dogs and 6 bunnies at a time and will have windows for the animals to look out.

"We're excited for this pet shop showing dogs and bunnies in a setting which will bring new customers," Nolan told the publication. "When you take animals from a shelter to a retail environment, people will see that shelter pets are regular animals."

According to the ASPCA, there are currently between 5 and 7 million animals, many of whom are in great pet health, looking for forever homes in shelters across the nation.