OPHS purchases property for ‘Kitty City’

Some of the Olympic Peninsula furry friends are getting new digs in Sequim.

Officials with the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society announced last week the acquisition of a 7,200-square-foot building just west of Sequim that will house cats, kittens, small critters and veterinary services.

The addition, dubbed Kitty City, comes at an opportune time: As a previous condition of OPHS buying their existing property on Old Olympic Highway in Port Angeles, Clallam County officials set a requirement that three modular buildings that currently hold administration, veterinary services and felines to be removed by 2024.

Humane society officials in 2019 began plans for a new building on the existing Old Olympic Highway property, but after working with architectural firm to begin the initial design phase the rapidly escalating costs made the overall price tag unmanageable, OPHS executive director Luanne Hinkle said.

Fortunately for the nonprofit, OPHS received a bequest from the McKay family to provide what was estimated to be half the price tag of the new building. Subsequent bequests were earmarked or a new building and invested, Hinkle said.

“We decided to raise the rest of the funds needed from our community of animal lovers with a launch party at the annual Meowgaritas and Mutts event that was to be held in April 2020,” Hinkle said.

Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, wiping out not only the 2020 fundraiser but the 2021 Meowgaritas and Mutts event as well. The two annual events were estimated to bring in $400,000 for OPHS, Hinkle said.

But OPHS was able to purchase its new building — located at 91 Boyce Road, on the south side of U.S. Highway 101 a bit west of Carlsborg — in cash from bequeathed funds. Hinkle said it would have likely cost OPHS about $2 million for a new building and land.

The county approved the use and the property closed escrow on Kitty City on March 5, Hinkle said.

“We’ll do an open house at some point, depending on regulations,” she said.

Now OPHS will have two campuses, one for dog adoptions and one for cats, kittens and small animals.

OPHS’s 9.5-acre facility on Old Olympic features a 5,500-square-foot Bark House and has room to expand, Hinkle said.

“We should be able (to grow) as much as the community needs,” she said. “We might have horses here, who knows?”

But before then there’s still plenty of work to do on the new Kitty City, Hinkle noted, and associated costs.

Seeking renovation funds

Because the building — formerly Calvary Chapel Sequim and disc golf course in recent years — has been unused for quite some time, “it needs TLC for sure,” Hinkle said. That includes a new heating and cooling system (HVAC), some minor roof repairs, several interior and exterior repairs including paint, laundry machines, special ultraviolet lighting for controlling germs, and build-outs for cat roaming rooms.

Additionally, existing vet services has old, hand-me-down equipment sorely in need of replacement within an 850-square—foot trailer, and because OPHS hopes to provide low-cost spay/neuter services in the future the organization is looking for upgrades there, Hinkle said.

OPHS has funded several spay/neuter clinics for low income individuals in recent months but those are limited by time and availability of funds and local veterinarians.

Those items will run OPHS about $350,000, Hinkle said. While the expenses are significant, the organization wouldn’t have been able to expand like this for years without the McKay donation and others, she said.

See items needed at OPHumaneSociety.org/New-Sequim-Building.

Keeping busy during COVID

Things haven’t slowed much for OPHS during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hinkle said. The organization has taken in a number of animals, particularly from the relatively high-kill shelter state of California.

“We got very low on dogs during first part of COVID,” Hinkle said, as few as six dogs, “(but) sometimes we were getting close to capacity,” Hinkle said.

“The turnover is good still.”

Keeping the dog numbers low is good for a number of reasons, particularly for the canines who are long-term residents, she said.

“As good as we try to make it for the animals, they’re around a lot of others, and there’s a lot of anxiety among other animals,” Hinkle said.

OPHS is looking to push more animalfostering in coming weeks, Hinkle said.

“We haven’t done a lot of that before,” she said. “Kitten season right around the corner, so we’ll foster for kittens and cats.”

The organization also sees a professional trainer come in about three times a week to work with the hard-to-adopt dogs, looking to help them be ready for their new home, she said.

“Most of the them haven’t had any training,” Hinkle said.

In coming months, OPHS would like to offer on-site community dog training sessions, she said.

For almost 75 years, the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society has maintained an active presence in the Sequim, Port Angeles and surrounding communities, sheltering and caring for domestic animals of all types. The private, nonprofit corporation is financed primarily by private donations and gifts and is not associated with any national organization. About 1,500 animals pass through OPHS’s doors each year.

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