Home for good

Pet placement presents an ever-changing set of challenges

photos courtesy of Humane Society For Southwest Washington [imagebrowser id=23]

There is no shortage of pets who need homes in Clark County. Fortunately, there are several shelter and pet adoption agencies that call this their first priority.

The Humane Society for Southwest Washington continues to be an anchor regionally. HSSW is an open admission shelter, which means no animals of any kind are ever turned away. The shelter has accepted alligators, bunnies, ferrets, fish and spiders, according to Erin Griffin, marketing and public relations manager for the HSSW. Only cats and dogs are adopted out, but HSSW will liaison with the appropriate organization for whatever legged or non-legged creatures enter the door. From summer through October, is feline breeding season, and it is “wall-to-wall with cats and kittens” said Griffin, and the shelter has instituted a wait list for cats until there is more room. HSSW is the largest capacity shelter in the Portland Metro area, and the only shelter that, until now, took in both stray and owned animals without a waiting list. The three-year-old, 30,000-square-foot shelter receives about 10,000 animals a year, and the organization never euthanizes an animal for space reasons.The HSSW does medical and behavioral evaluations and has an in-house veterinary clinic, all to help make pets more adoptable.

Griffin said the HSSW accepts quite a lot of so-called “bully breeds” and also smaller dogs like Chihuahuas, which are in vogue right now. She said the society is a big advocate for bully breeds, which includes Terriers, Bulldogs, Boxers and others.

HSSW does much if its advocacy through education and as such has a huge presence in the community. An especially sweet program is Read to the Dogs, a program that utilizes Pet Facilitated Therapy animals to provide a calm and fun learning environment for children mainly in grades 1-3 to practice their reading skills. “It builds their skill level and confidence,” said Griffin, “and makes them feel calm and comfortable.”

The HSSW has several fun community events every year and one large fundraiser. (See sidebar for more info on late summer and fall events.)

Furry Friends is another organization that rescues animals, but its focus is on cats. The small shelter has one location but does not publicize it because it is usually close to or at capacity, which is only 20 to 25 cats. However, the no-kill organization adopts out 250 to 300 cats a year, according to President of the Board David Cox, and it depends heavily on a network of people who will foster cats until they can be adopted out. Started in 1999 by Nancy McMartin, the organization is a private nonprofit that is completely run and staffed by volunteers. (See page 30 for a profile of a very dedicated volunteer.)

Second Chance Companions will be celebrating 20 years in 2013. The no-kill organization has three initiatives: adoptions, spay and neuter, and AniMeals. It does not have a shelter but rather tries to keep animals in their homes until they can be adopted out. Those who want to adopt animals from Second Chance as well as Furry Friends can find them on the web, at events and fairs and at local pet stores. Second Chance is considered more of a matchmaker, and will try to match any type of pet with a new owner, said Dawn Forline, vice president of the board. They also subsidize spaying and neutering at a number of local veterinary clinics, and helped alter a record 703 pets in 2010. A large area of growth is involvement with AniMeals, a national organization that supplies needed food to pets and other animals. Second Chance volunteers spend time procuring donations of pet food, packing it into one-gallon bags and distributing it to the elderly, homebound and disabled, such as to residents of Vancouver’s Smith Tower.

Forline got involved when her dog passed away, and she decided to foster a dog or two to find the right fit for her home. To date, she has fostered 60 dogs, and today is heavily involved with Second Chance Companions. Having volunteered with the organization for ten years, she has seen the effects of the economic downturn on pets in the area. In short, “the available pet population has increased,” she said, “but the adopters have decreased.”

Paddle up!

Attending events and fundraisers is a great
way to support local pet adoptions organizations.

Humane Society for Southwest Washington

Doggie Dive
Sept. 29, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
$10 Suggested Donation

Annual Dinner & Auction:
Make a Difference

October 6, 5 p.m.
Hilton Vancouver Washington
Tickets $100, includes silent and live auctions,
dinner and program

Pet Portraits with Santa
Nov. 17 & Dec. 1
Time and details TBD

Furry Friends

Our Cats Rock! Fundraising Event
Sept. 22, 5 p.m.
Club Green Meadows
Tickets $40 in advance or $45 at the door, includes live music, auctions and dinner and program

Second Chance Companions

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