Humane Society one month away from new facility

Intake and euthanasia numbers are down from 2014-2015

Things may be looking up as intake numbers are going down for the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society.

Officials with the animal shelter say they are about one month away from moving into their new facility.

Mary Beth Wegener, executive director, said they are on schedule to move from its Port Angeles site at 2105 West U.S. Highway 101 by the end of February to 1743 Old Olympic Highway, which includes a new building for dogs and three modular homes for administration and veterinarian services and a cats facility.

As the move-in date approaches, shelter staff may see less of an influx of animals this year, too.

Earlier this month, shelter veterinarian Dr. Suzy Zustiak released the shelter’s intake numbers for 2015 that show its intake went down nearly 200 animals from 2014 along with its total amount of euthanized animals from 102 to 91.

Wegener said the new facilities will help all of the animals with different levels of care.

“It’s a much better environment,” she said. “They’ll be much more comfortable.”

The current Port Angeles facility is at about 2,900 square feet whereas the new facilities offer about 10,000 square feet on 9.5 acres with dog kennels increasing from 28 to 54.

With more space, Wegener said they could segregate dogs such as strays and/or unadoptable animals with violent histories in whole rows, if needed.

“It’ll be safer all around,” she said. “It’ll be much easier for people to come in and see what dogs are up for adoption. If you lost a dog, you can go to the row for strays.”

In the home for cats, there will be community rooms, a patio to play, rooms for kittens and cats that don’t get along, she said.

Total, the project cost $1.4 million including $325,000 for the property. The shelter is within about $100,000 from its fundraising goal, Wegener said.

“We plan to move in debt free,” she said.

The shelter, an open-door private nonprofit, conducted a feasibility study in 2013 that found the community supported a new facility and funding for the facility came from private donations and some in-kind service, Wegener said.

“We don’t have to work hard for people to see the need,” she said.

As for the older facility, it’ll be listed for sale and its funds put into the newer facility, Wegener said.

A second phase at the Old Olympic Highway site would build a structure for the administration and veterinarian services and cat house but Wegener said they “aren’t pushing right away though for the second phase.”

By the numbers

Zustiak’s annual report show the biggest shift from 2014 to 2015 at the shelter was its decrease of incoming kittens going from 485 to 294.

Wegener attributes this to spay and neuter efforts from animal welfare groups.

“I think it’s starting to pay off,” she said.

“Groups like Spay to Save, Peninsula Friends of Animals and everyone who put that effort to do low-cost or no-cost spay or neuters can take all the credit for reduced numbers,” she said.

Comparing other intake totals, dogs as a whole went down from 506 to 479 and cats down 560 to 506 while other types of animals like birds and rabbits went up 46 to 106 and puppies up 15 to 30.

More than half of their animals were adopted (769 total or 54.3 percent) compared to 2014 (724 at 44.9 percent). Transfers of animals did go down though from 450 to 240 last year.

As for the total number euthanized animals, 91 were killed in 2015 compared to 102 in 2014. Of those last year, 21 dogs were euthanized with 18 for behavioral reasons and three for health concerns.

Fifty-eight cats were euthanized as well with 26 for behavior and 32 for health.

Other animals euthanized include two puppies, nine kittens and one rabbit, all cited for health reasons.

Zustiak reports Clallam County Animal Control requested five animals be euthanized.

Wegener said they “really can’t anticipate what (euthanasia) rates are going to be” because it’s on a “case by case basis.”

She added that the shelter wants to “give every animal the opportunity to prove itself.”

For more information on the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society, call 457-8206 or go online to