Humane Society of Jefferson County seeks active participants for membership, board seats
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Jefferson County Humane Society board member Lizzie Hewitt with Hope, a stray pitbull mix that has been nursed back to health over the past two months. — Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The Humane Society of Jefferson County is looking for a few good animal lovers.

“We are looking for new members and board members who have a compassionate, cooperative spirit and would like to help ensure that the values of the community are reflected in the policies and practices of the organization,” said Lizzie Hewitt, board member.

“Not everyone has the time to volunteer on a regular basis, but there are many other ways to help, and we are seeking to expand our community involvement,” she added.

The Humane Society is soliciting both members, who pay $25 year and can volunteer their services, as well as board members, Hewitt said.

The board, which now has three members — Hewitt, Paul Becker and Steve Gillard — has just enough for a quorum.

Four others have shown interest in serving on the board, which can have as many as nine members, Hewitt said.

Becker said the society has about 40 members, who are scheduled to meet to elect new board members at 1 p.m. March 22 in the lower meeting room of the Bishop Hotel, 714 Washington St.

Anyone who signs up as a member prior to the meeting can vote for board members who serve three-year terms, Hewitt said.

Once the new board is in place and membership has increased, the Humane Society can set out to fulfill its goals of education and fundraising, she added.

In 2011, the Humane Society took over from Jefferson County the management of the animal shelter, which is located at 112 Critter Lane in Port Townsend.

This year, it has become responsible for maintenance of the 20-year-old building, which is starting to show some wear.

“There are a lot of things you can do to help even if you don’t want to be on the board,” Becker said.

“There are a lot of challenges in running a 501(c)(3), but our biggest challenge is getting people to license their dogs,” he added.

Becker said there are about 2,000 licensed dogs in the county and estimates another 6,000 or 7,000 are unlicensed, based on census data that projects dogs per household.

Licenses cost $20 per year, so this has the potential of bringing in up to $70,000 in annual revenue, most of which would go to the shelter, which now has a $125,000 yearly budget.

It is illegal to have an unlicensed dog. The fine is $114 for the first offense, although that’s not the only reason to go legal.

“Dogs tend to get out, so their license is their license home,” Becker said.

While dog licenses are a money-maker, the care of the animals is a break-even-or-loss situation, Becker said.

Many of the animals need veterinary care, which Port Hadlock veterinarian Virginia Johnson provides as a discount, Hewitt said.

The shelter has the ability to hold 35 animals but is rarely at capacity, Hewitt said.

All of the kennel floors are heated, said Jill DeHaven, one of the two paid staff members.

New arrivals are given time to get adjusted.

“We let them settle in, letting them know they have food and water, or a clean box for the cats,” DeHaven said.

“After that, they become socialized.”

Many of the animals arrive unnamed, so shelter personnel try to select something appropriate, DeHaven said, using baby name websites as guides.

Some names come from the circumstances, such as Hope, an adult pitbull mix who was found by the side of a Chimacum road in January, the victim of abuse and possible torture.

When she arrived, she could barely walk, Hewitt said.

After two months of rehabilitation, she is still a few months away from adoptability, but she has gained weight to a healthy 53 pounds and can take 15-minute walks.

Barker said animals might be euthanized “if it is the only option; if there is an aggressive cat that won’t even come out of the carrier and there are no other options.”

Sometimes, unadoptable animals can be placed in barn homes, he said.

“We have not euthanized any adoptable animals for seven or eight years,” he said.

The shelter is open from noon to 5 p.m. every day except Monday.

For more information, phone 360-385-3292, visit www.jeffersoncountyhumanesociety.org or email shelter@hsjcwa.org.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 12. 2014 7:32PM
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