Six Things You May Not Know About Willamette Humane Society

by Gayle Gilham on July 1, 2019

in Featured Member

Willamette Humane Society

Whoever coined the phrase “where there’s a will, there’s a way,” obviously knew something about the power of human determination, and perhaps knew the “founding mothers” of Willamette Humane Society. Did you know…

  1. Willamette Humane Society (WHS) was founded in 1965 by Jessie Mickelson, Eleanor Gordon-Thompson and Jeanne Beardsley. These local civic leaders drew inspiration from the rundown, undersized and outdated shelter facility which was the Marion County Dog Pound at the time. They had the heart and the will to organize a group in Salem for the purpose of protecting and promoting the welfare of animals.
  2. After extensive fundraising efforts, the fledgling organization finally raised enough funds in 1969 to begin construction of a modest facility containing only 20 dog, and 25 cat kennels. The shelter was open for business less than five months after purchasing the grounds.
  3. Every month within the first year of operation, the facility took in an average of 1,500 animals. In July of 1972, phase two of the construction began, doubling the capacity and adding dog runs as well as separate puppy and kitten rooms. And still, need outpaced capacity. In 1995, the current building opened, housing 65 dog and 142 cat kennels, and adding more inviting public areas for adoptions and pet meets.
  4. Fast forward to 2010 when the dream of opening a state-of-the art low cost, high volume spay/neuter clinic came true. Finally able to effectively address pet overpopulation in the community, WHS now provides free surgeries for unowned community cats in Marion and Polk counties, in addition to spay and neuter services for companion cats and dogs. This year, the clinic will perform its 50,000th surgery!
  5. Today’s Humane Society is a far cry from its 60’s era counterpart. Because of community support, the staff and volunteers are now able to treat, rehabilitate, and rehome over 96% of the pets who arrive needing help. Animals with special needs stay as long as necessary while being treated for medical and behavioral conditions, and this means the shelter is again beginning to push the limits of its capacity for care and in the near future will be exploring remodeling to modernize operations.
  6. In the nearly 50 years since the original idea for a shelter for Willamette Valley’s pets in need was born, one thing has remained the same: heart. And as long as the heart beats strong for their animals, WHS will be here protecting and promoting their welfare.

Cascade is proud to feature WHS, an organization dedicated to establishing, maintaining and enhancing the bond between companion animals and the people of Marion and Polk counties.

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