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News / Business / Clark County Business

Humane Society plans major expansion

Capital campaign sets $9.8 million goal; services for pet owners of low income part of plan

By Allan Brettman, Columbian Business Editor
Published: October 18, 2018, 7:55pm
3 Photos
Five-month-old Sophia, who was a part of a transfer of pets from Texas, greets visitors at the Humane Society for Southwest Washington in May.
Five-month-old Sophia, who was a part of a transfer of pets from Texas, greets visitors at the Humane Society for Southwest Washington in May. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Low-income people could get veterinary treatment for their pets in a proposed expansion of the Humane Society for Southwest Washington clinic, according to a plan outlined Thursday.

A capital campaign seeks to raise $9.8 million for construction and endowments with a target of starting construction of the 12,000-square-foot project in early 2020, and finishing later that year. Already $3 million has been pledged by an anonymous Clark County resident.

Project planning has been underway for about two years, said the nonprofit’s president, Stacey Graham, who announced the project Thursday at the society’s annual luncheon.

The clinic, to be built onto the existing building in east Vancouver, would fill a growing need for pet care in the region, Graham told the audience.

The clinic — which would charge a sliding fee scale with an average of $75 a visit — would allow approximately 4,300 animal to be treated a year. At the same time, the Humane Society plans to partner with 10 veterinary clinics in Clark, Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties to handle 1,500 additional pet visits by low-income pet owners.

With the guidance of two humane society task forces, these are the components of the plan, Graham said in an interview following her announcement:

The Humane Society’s veterinary clinic would add about 4,600 square feet to the south side of the existing building, where current vet services are located. While the facility already employs two veterinarians, two veterinary technicians, seven veterinary assistants, those professionals are limited to primarily offering spaying and neutering services. Through a change in state law, the Humane Society hopes the staff — which likely would be expanded — could provide a full range of vet services.

• A behavioral resource and training center of about 7,400 square feet would be built on the north side of the building. It would be staffed by certified behaviorists and trainers to work with pet owners whose animals experience challenges such as anxiety and aggression, Graham said.

• A resource center for pet owners would include a call center with trained staff who can answer questions about pet care and training. Also, the Humane Society’s website would expand to include more resources and information on adopting and maintaining companion animals at home.

As part of the expansion, the Humane Society is seeking to expand partnerships with the Humane Society of Cowlitz County and West Columbia Gorge Humane Society. The expanded partnership, she said, would expand pet services in the region and elevate care standards. It’s hoped the partnership would improve productivity and provide cost savings for the three entities.

“Animal welfare is changing,” Graham said, noting that many shelters, including hers, have seen increasing success in adopting out dogs and cats and reducing their population through spaying and neutering programs. “Now we want to figure out ways to help people stay with their pets. We don’t currently have the space to provide the programs we want to improve.”

Nor, legally, does the Humane Society have the tools to treat pets for people who can’t afford to pay for those services. Graham said the Humane Society is working closely with state Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, as well as the Washington Federation for Animal Care & Control Agencies and the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association to change Washington laws to allow humane societies to care for the owned animals of low-income residents.

The capital project Graham described Thursday follows by about a decade the opening of the Humane Society’s headquarters at 1100 N.E. 192nd Ave. For that project, $7.5 million was raised over a 12-year span, led by a $2 million gift from an anonymous donor. The new 30,750-square-foot building nearly tripled the size of the old shelter, located off Fruit Valley Road near the Port of Vancouver.

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Columbian Business Editor