Humane endeavor

— image credit:
Sequim Gazette

Sequim’s animal shelter, the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society, located in West Port Angeles, is in process of evaluating whether the community would support a move forward on a new building.


Mary Beth Wegener, executive director, said they could receive one of three responses.


“We get the green light, we get a yellow light and do a few things differently or we get the red light,” she said. “If we get the green light, then we’ll come up with a plan.”


The Humane Society is partnering with Animal Shelter Fundraising, an Arizona agency specializing in supporting animal welfare groups, to evaluate the society’s building plan and conduct a feasibility study on community support.


Animal Shelter Fundraising’s building plan suggested the following:


• A facility with at least 10,000 square feet (the current facility is about 2,900) to serve needs of Clallam County through 2025.


• Space for about 180 animals with cages and kennels (currently 28 dog kennels and 70 cat cages), and adequate office space for staff and volunteers.


• A location anywhere on, or in within eyesight of, U.S. Highway 101 between Sequim and Port Angeles.

Wegener said the current facility was last remodeled in 1983, but the Humane Society does own the building and a few acres on and around it. Volunteers and staff take dogs for walks around the property and to go outside in kennels down the hill.


“We’ve been here a long time and the population has changed but we have the same amount of dog kennels and cat cages,” she said.


Animal Shelter Fundraising is interviewing a cross-section of business leaders, donors, volunteers and community members to gauge the level of support for a new facility.


Wegener said they’ll have a better idea of their next steps in about eight weeks.


Sequim’s take

The Humane Society, a private nonprofit, holds contracts with Clallam County and the cities of Sequim and Port Angeles. Its funding comes from these contracts and private donations.


Lisa Hopper, code compliance officer for the City of Sequim, said the Humane Society is the city’s housing facility for stray, lost-and-found and/or troubled animals.


In 2011, the city paid for 63 animals to be housed there; the 2010 number was 85.


Trips are minimal to the shelter, Hopper said, adding that moving the facility move closer to Sequim would have a definite impact.


“It’d shorten my trip,” she said. “When I get a dog case, it’s a good two or three hours out of my day to get the dog, and drive there and back.”


Wegener said there’s a definite connection between Sequim and the Humane Society.


“That support we see now will increase if we move closer to Sequim,” she said. “We have volunteers from Sequim, a lot of donors, and board members from there.”

Any and all

The Humane Society is Clallam County’s only open-door animal shelter, meaning it takes in all cats and dogs despite age or condition.


Last year, it saw about 2,000 animals come into the facility. Ten employees and about 30 volunteers walk dogs at least twice daily outside and upwards of four to five times daily, and cats are taken care of and played with several times daily, too.


“We had a reputation for euthanizing an inordinate amount of animals years ago,” she said. “Now it’s about 10 percent because we have a vet, Suzy Zustiak, who came in with the philosophy not to euthanize due to lack of space.”


Wegener said if they do euthanize, it’s due to severe behavioral issues or because the animal is ill or injured beyond the group’s ability to help.


She takes pride in showing a large freezer out back they’ve unplugged. It used to hold all of the shelter’s euthanized animals: Now it holds donated dry food.


As for adoption, Wegener said it’s harder due to location, but they partner with other shelters and animal groups that might have more resources and possible owners available.


The Humane Society is closed for repairs until Thursday, Aug. 9. Donations always are accepted, including non-clumping cat litter, animal food, laundry soap and bleach, paper towels and money.


For more information or to volunteer, call the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society at 457-8206 or visit

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the Oct 26
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates