This area is the portion of the old shelter that housed the animals. Since our move into the new facility in 1996, it now serves as the offices of the Executive Director, Operations Manager, Office Manager, Volunteer Coordinator and Community Relations Coordinator. In 2002, it was remodeled due to faulty electrical wiring. During construction, we added a Dog Adoption Room and Cat Adoption Room for potential adopters to meet their prospective family member in a more private setting. The Cat Adoption Room is also used by our FIP volunteers (Feline Intervention Program) to give one-on-one attention to our cats.
The Paws Wall
The Paws Wall is a testimony to all of the many donors who made the building of our newer animal facility possible. There are also many plaques outside of rooms and on cages to recognize those who donated those particular areas. We faced many difficulties when erecting the Paws Wall because of the high humidity caused by our daily and extensive cleaning of the shelter. Our tiles started out being made of stainless steel but they were very difficult to read. We have recently re-done the wall with tiles that can handle the high humidity in our facility.
“Ricki Room” Training Facility
The training facility is used Monday through Thursday night as well as Saturday mornings throughout the year. Volunteer dog trainers hold puppy classes, basic obedience and advanced obedience classes for the general public, and other training events are held as well. We also rent out the facility for area groups. The room is also transformed for two of our shelter fundraisers…our Oktoberfest Beertasting in October and Festival of Trees in December. Because the facility was constructed in the early 1980’s, it is in need of repair, and the remodeling has been completed for two of the three phases. The bathrooms were remodeled in 2004, and the ceiling insulation and ceiling were completed in 2006. The walls and windows are projected to be done sometime in the future as funds become available.
Cats up for adoption are housed in 3 cat rooms as well as in the 3 communal rooms. Because cats are such a problem in this county, we begin filling up quickly in late spring and continue to see an influx through November or December. For that reason, we offer the “Buddy System” where people can adopt one cat and get another “buddy” for free! Unfortunately, many people only want kittens and often overlook our wonderful older cats. For that reason, our adult cats 2 years and older are no charge. All of our adoption procedures and requirements remain the same. This program has resulted in lower number of days spent in the shelter and, therefore, lower incidents of illness, actually saving WCHS money! In an effort to reduce stress, our Feline Intervention Program (FIP) volunteers, take cats into a quiet room to provide one-on-one time to play, groom or just snuggle. We also make sure they have places to hide and perch, and leave their bedding with them to give them familiar scents to alleviate stress.
The dogs that are up for adoption have roomy kennels and flushing systems that allow for easy cleaning. The kennels also have guillotine doors so that the dogs can be moved to one side while the other is being cleaned. Locks are kept on all cages so that the public can not inadvertently let a dog loose. Dogs are exercised on leash outside for 5-10 minutes 3 times per day. In addition, volunteer dog walkers give them long scenic walks or take them into the courtyard for playtime or grooming. We also provide our dogs with cheese filled Kongs as well as nearly empty peanut butter jars to give them additional enrichment and reduce stress.
Our facility is made up of steel and concrete to facilitate easy cleaning and disinfecting…in contrast to the old building which was primarily wood that rotted from the continuous cleaning. Each room in the kennel area is equipped with flushing systems and drains, and an air exchange system allows for easy flow of fresh air for the animals. The kennel area includes 3 cat rooms with cages, the dog runs, and the small animal/rodent area. This is also the area that houses our Donor/Memorial Wall, and leads to our courtyard where dogs can “kick their crazies” out!
Sanitation & Animal Care
Sanitation is critical in a shelter environment, and cleaning the shelter takes our staff and volunteers the entire morning to complete. Each cage is sprayed down and scrubbed with disinfectant to prevent the spread of disease, then rinsed and squeegeed dry. Floors are also disinfected daily as well as dishes and litter boxes, and our washers and dryers run almost continuously. Animals are fed (and medicated if needed) twice a day, and dogs are walked a minimum of 3 times throughout the day. Kennel workers also serve as adoption counselors in the afternoon helping the public find the right match for their family.
The courtyard is a place where volunteers and staff can take dogs out to play…and where potential adopters can interact directly with a dog they might be considering adding to their family. The dogs are often so excited to have a little “freedom” that they tear around the courtyard chasing balls or running for the sheer joy of it. The courtyard is made up primarily of pea gravel. Some of the dogs tend to dig and grass would have been difficult to maintain. Pea gravel is virtually maintenance free, and can be sprayed with bleach water for disinfecting purposes. The courtyard also leads to our Crematorium (the northwest corner) which can also be accessed from the interior of the building.
“Incoming” is the area where stray animals are held for the 5-day holding period, and where surrendered animals stay until they are assessed and comfortable with the shelter environment.
Exam Room / Surgical Suite
The exam room is the area where animals are assessed for health. There is a floor shower and tub in this section for animals to be bathed and groomed. There are also cages for animals who are extremely frightened to be housed in a more quiet area.
The Exam Room is also the location where our spay/neuter surgeries take place. All dogs, cats and rabbits are spayed or neutered prior to adoption…even kittens and puppies 8 weeks of age! Although the public seems to be more accepting of altering their dogs, cats remain a serious problem in Washington County as well as the entire state. Because of the overpopulation problem, no animal is allowed to leave WCHS without being sterilized. WCHS also has a TNR Program (trap/neuter/return) which is a spay/neuter program for feral cats, as well as a Barn Buddies program where we spay and neuter friendly, outdoor barn cats for the public.
Officer Drop Off
Law enforcement agencies will sometimes bring in animals themselves, and they have access to the code required for entering the building. They will drop off the animal in one of the cages already set up for this purpose and fill out a required form.
The Isolation Ward
The Isolation Ward houses our sick and injured animals. They are kept in isolation to avoid spreading disease until they have completed their medications successfully and can be placed up for adoption. Some of them may need more extensive veterinary care and we have vets in the area who provide this service for us at a reduced cost. Cats may become stressed out in a shelter environment and develop upper respiratory disease…much like the common cold but it can develop into pneumonia. Cats may be pulled off the adoption floor and placed in isolation until they regain their health. To reduce stress, we provide cats with a place to hide and a place to perch. We also utilize Feliway diffusers, which is a cat pheromone sprayed into the environment, and keep their bedding with them so they are surrounded by familiar, comforting scents.
The nursery contains cats that are pregnant or have recently had their litters. Many of the nursing moms and kittens go to volunteer foster families until they are weaned and can go up for adoption along with their mom.
Safe Pets/Safe People Program
WCHS works closely with Friends of Abused Families to shelter the companion animals of abuse victims. Often, a woman in an abusive relationship may be reluctant to leave that situation out of concern for the safety of her and her children’s pets. After referral from Friends, WCHS takes in these pets at no charge, and shelters them at the Humane Society or finds a foster family to care for them. With the many issues an abuse victim is facing, knowing her animals are safe and cared for allows her the time needed to make arrangements for herself and her family.
WCHS does NOT euthanize animals for space. Every adoptable animal remains in the shelter until they find a home. We have no time limit for our adoptable animals and some animals spend months with us. We only euthanize animals that are severely injured, those who are seriously ill and owner requests. We employ a variety of means to make sure all adoptable animals are placed:
- We have an extremely high adoption rate.
- We utilize breed rescue groups.
- We transfer dogs from other shelters around the state to alleviate their overcrowding.
- We have provided dogs to U.S. Customs to be trained as drug sniffers at airports around the country.
- We have also provided dogs to service groups such as Paws with a Cause and Dogs for Independence to be trained to work with the disabled.