Mary Beth Wegener

Mary Beth Wegener

Olympic Peninsula Humane Society pays off land for new shelter

PORT ANGELES — The Olympic Peninsula Humane Society has paid off the land it purchased in 2012 to build a new animal shelter.

“We are so grateful to our donors and supporters who made it possible for us to pay off the land in less than one year,” Executive Director Mary Beth Wegener said.

The board of directors is in the planning stages for the new facility.

The goal is to move to the property in late 2014 or early 2015.

Funding for the property came from an existing building fund, which the organization has maintained for many years in hopes of a new home, plus new donations that began pouring in when the community realized the Humane Society was serious about moving and building a new shelter, Wegener said.

The $325,000, 9.5-acre property at 1743 Old Olympic Highway includes a private hiking path through wooded areas, a pole barn and three houses.

“Our staff and volunteers are very excited about moving to the new location and providing a better environment for the animals in our care,” Wegener said.

About $900,000 in improvements is needed before the Humane Society can move animal care operations to the property.

Upgrades include construction of a dog kennel building, conversions of the other buildings, paved parking and noise-mitigation landscaping required by the conditional-use permit issued by the county, she said.

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 smaller populations and has room for only 70 cats and 28 dogs.

The county’s population centers have grown and shifted eastward, and in recent years, as many as 2,500 animals are taken into the shelter annually, far more than the shelter can house.

The new property was selected at least partially because of its location between Port Angeles and Sequim, the two largest communities in Clallam County, Wegener said in 2012.

That will allow the Humane Society to be more accessible to residents, she said.

Wegener said initial plans for the dog building have been scaled back from a planned 57 kennels to a more affordable 39-kennel facility built so an 18-kennel wing could be added later.

The Humane Society plans to convert the three homes on the property into temporary buildings that would house a cattery, 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.

Eventually, the existing buildings will be replaced with a new cattery, clinic and administration center, she said.

At the back of the property is a thick stand of trees with private walking trails that dog walkers are expected to use.

The Olympic Peninsula Humane Society is a private nonprofit corporation financed primarily by private donations and gifts.

No animals are turned away.

For more information or to volunteer, phone 360-457-8206.

Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

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