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Humane Society eyes land closer to Sequim

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by MATTHEW NASH
Sequim Gazette


The Olympic Peninsula Humane Society is preparing to move closer to Sequim.

 

Currently located in west Port Angeles in a 2,900-square-foot building, the shelter finalized a $325,000 deal in October to buy three modular homes and a barn on a 9.5-acre parcel on Old Olympic Highway for the shelter to eventually build a new dog kennel.

 

Moving will take some time, said Executive Director Mary Beth Wegener.

 

The humane society prior to the purchase learned from a feasibility study that the community would be willing to support a new 10,000-square-foot facility valued at $1.2 million.

 

“If you’ve been out to our site, then you know it’s not pretty,” Wegener said.

 

“We’re encouraged by the support from the study’s findings. It’s going to take a lot of work. There’s a lot of strategy needing to be planned.”

 

Wegener said they wouldn’t begin fundraising until 2014 so she and board members can recruit more business-minded board members, rework the board’s policies and procedures and create an advisory board for the new facility.

 

They’d also make some improvements to the new site at 1743 Old Olympic Highway, which includes a barn and three modular homes.

 

Wegener said they’ve looked into retrofitting the barn as the dog kennel, but the cost would be counter-productive.

 

Plans are still developing, but Wegener said they’d build a dog kennel first that would more than double the 31 dog kennels at the current site.

 

“It’d be twice that here (in the new facility) to account for population growth,” she said. “We’re often at our max with dogs.”

 

Officials plans to refurbish one home for cats, another for administration services and the third for veterinarian services. Bedrooms and the living room in the cat house would create more space for cages and community rooms. Future plans include putting a new roof on one building and expanding the site’s septic services.

 

Wegener said the site has a lot to offer animals and volunteers, including walking trails already in place and a wide open field.

 

“This seems right in the middle of Sequim and Port Angeles and should attract more people from Sequim,” she said. “Our current location isn’t that convenient for people there.”

 

Opening an adoption center in Sequim remains an option for the shelter, too.

Conditional use

OPHS will operate the shelter under a conditional use permit from Clallam County on the new site.
One guideline requires the shelter to plant more trees on the east side of the property to block sound.
“The main concern from neighbors was the sound of barking dogs,” Wegener said. “When they bark inside the kennel it’s because they want to go outside and play. They won’t be heard from outside the new kennel and when they’re outside they won’t be barking because they’re outside.

“Our intention is to be a good neighbor,” she said.

 


Decrease in euthanasia rates

Even with limited space, staff and volunteers have decreased euthanasia rates in the shelter.

 

Wegener said its euthanasia rate dropped from 10.5 percent in 2011 to 7 percent so far this year.

 

Five years ago, the number was more than 30 percent, she said.

 

Wegener attributes the decrease to hiring Dr. Suzy Zustiak, the shelter’s full-time veterinarian, two years ago.

 

To prevent euthanasia, the shelter either adopts the animal out in Port Angeles, transfers it to a shelter in a more populated area or finds a rescue group.

 

Annually, the shelter hosts about 2,000 animals and it doesn’t turn away any animal.

 

This year, it operates on a $450,000 budget, which includes full-time employees Zustiak and Wegener and eight part-time employees.

 

“The nice thing is the public donates most of our food,” Wegener said. “We rarely have to buy anything except for specialty foods and sometimes we have to buy cat litter.”

 

Some of its budget comes from contracted animal control services through the City of Sequim, City of Port Angeles and Clallam County.

 


Adoption rates

Around Christmas, Wegener said kittens are the most-adopted animal.

 

“This is a good time of year to get a new family member,” she said.

 

The shelter often runs specials for adopting an animal such as if you give the shelter three bags of cat litter then you can receive a free cat.

 

Adopting a cat usually costs $85, large breed dogs $125, small breed dogs and puppies $150.

 

Costs include spay/neuter, microchipping and rabies and veterinarian check.

 

For more information on the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society, 2105 West U.S. Highway 101, Port Angeles, call 457-8206 or visit www.ophumanesociety.org. Hours are 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

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