Humane Society buys land for new shelter
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Mary Beth Wegener, executive director of the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society, looks at a parcel that will be the new animal shelter.

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The Olympic Peninsula Humane Society has purchased property for a new animal shelter, and staff and board members plan to begin raising $1.2 million for property improvements and a dog kennel — but not until 2014.

On Oct. 12, the shelter's board completed the purchase of a 9.5-acre site at 1743 Old Olympic Highway, located between Port Angeles and Sequim, for $325,000, said Mary Beth Wegener, executive director of the private, nonprofit Humane Society.

No immediate move or fundraising efforts are expected, she said.

The opportunity to purchase the land at a bargain price became possible before the Humane Society received a fundraising report commissioned by the shelter from Animal Shelter Fundraising LLC, an organization that specializes in helping animal shelters raise funds for construction and animal care, Wegener said.

According to the report, released Oct. 29, the shelter's governing board should be reorganized before fundraising efforts begin or work is done on the new property, she said.

The report recommended that it is feasible for the Humane Society to raise $1.2 million in Clallam County to fund the construction of a new animal shelter.

The fundraising campaign would begin sometime in early 2014, following the implementation of the recommendations.

The earliest the shelter could make the move is 2015 or 2016, depending on how long it takes to raise the funds needed to prepare the new property, Wegener said.

The new property includes four solid buildings, pastures and a stand of trees.

“We are very excited about the potential of this piece of land. The animals will enjoy a much better environment, as will our staff and the public who visit us,” said Kandace Pierce, Humane Society board president.

The current 2,900-square-foot animal shelter at 2105 U.S. Highway 101 west of Port Angeles is antiquated and too small for the population it serves, with no room for expansion because of the property's steep hillside location, Humane Society officials have said.

Built in 1956, the current shelter was built for a smaller population of humans and animals, and has room for only 70 cats and 28 dogs in a cramped space.

As many as 2,500 animals are taken into the shelter annually, Humane Society officials said.

Early ideas for the new property include converting three of the buildings into a “cat house,” a veterinary clinic/new animal quarantine building and an administrative center.

The fourth building is a pole barn, which could be used as storage and to house farm-type animals, and there is a pasture area for those animals as well, Wegener said.

The only structure that would need to be built from the ground up is a dog kennel, which would be attached to the other buildings to create a single shelter complex, Wegener said.

At $1.2 million, the new plan is considerably less expensive than the $3 million shelter that the agency initially expected to ask the community to support, she said.

Wegener said housing the cats in a separate building from the dogs will be less stressful for the cats.

A three-bedroom house that has been designated as the future cat house can be converted to create two large community cat rooms and smaller enclosures for kittens and cats who cannot be in a larger cat community, with a secure outdoor cat run for the cats to get fresh air and sunshine.

At the back of the property is a thick stand of trees that has high-quality walking trails, which both dogs and volunteer dog walkers should love, Wegener said.

“As soon as the dogs learn about it, I expect that they will start petitioning to move out there right away,” she joked.

The three-month-long fundraising feasibility study conducted by Animal Shelter Fundraising recommended several changes to the Humane Society governing board before an attempt to raise funds begins.

The recommendations included the formation of an advisory board, modifications to the current board composition, review and enhancement of current board policies and procedures, and the introduction of new fundraising strategies and tactics.

While there are many active and enthusiastic animal lovers onboard, the report said more business-minded board members are needed to help the organization move forward, Wegener said.

The study also advised that the OPHS consider a small adoption-only location in Sequim.

Currently, the Humane Society offers adoptable animals once a week at the Sequim Petco, 1205 W. Washington St.

Until the move to the new property is completed, a small storefront with “a clean, bright pet-shop feel” may be a good option to create a stronger presence in Clallam County's second-largest community, Wegener said.

Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at

Last modified: November 01. 2012 5:55PM
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