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Sept. 21, 2021

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Humane Society for Southwest Washington to launch $10 million campaign

Money raised will go toward expanding its Vancouver clinic

By , Columbian business reporter
Published:
3 Photos
A planned expansion at the Humane Society for Southwest Washington’s Vancouver clinic would add a behavioral resource and training center for dog owners who need advice and assistance.
A planned expansion at the Humane Society for Southwest Washington’s Vancouver clinic would add a behavioral resource and training center for dog owners who need advice and assistance. Nathan Howard/The Columbian files Photo Gallery

The Humane Society for Southwest Washington will launch a $10 million campaign to expand its Vancouver clinic, with the goal of eventually providing veterinary treatment for pets in low-income families.

“We’re kicking it off on April 11,” said Stacey Graham, the nonprofit’s president.

The fundraising campaign will begin with a more limited phase aimed at larger donors, she said, followed by a public phase that will continue through next year. The humane society hopes that will be enough time to raise the money before the anticipated start of construction in early 2021.

The expansion was announced in October along with the news that a $3 million lead gift had been secured from a private donor. Revised details were outlined in a pre-application packet submitted to the city of Vancouver in late January. At that time, a 2020 construction start was anticipated. But the project scope has grown, Graham said, necessitating a revised timeline.

The plan calls for two main changes to the 30,750-square-foot building at 1100 N.E. 192nd Ave.: a 2,105-square-foot addition to the southeast corner of the building, which would house as an expansion of the veterinary clinic, and a two-story addition on the north side, replacing what is currently a small outdoor kennel area. Each floor would have 6,226 square feet.

The ground floor of the northern addition would be home to a behavioral resource and training center with a separate entrance and restrooms, a large community room and new offices for the behavioral team. The second floor of the addition would house administrative offices, including a call center for pet owners with questions about care and training.

According to a site map in the pre-application packet, the project would add more parking spaces, a second driveway entrance to the front parking lot, an enlarged trash enclosure and an emergency generator. It would also create a “catio” on the building’s front lawn — a fully enclosed outdoor area where shelter cats can explore and play.

“It’s a really nice design that’s more contemporary,” Graham said last week. Architectural renderings of the proposed expansion are still being developed.

The Southwest Washington Adoption Center was built in 2009 following a previous fundraising effort. This time around, the fundraising timeline is shorter than the time it took to raise the money to build the original shelter. But Graham says they’re counting on the fact that they have a much stronger presence now in the Clark County community to connect with more potential donors.

A quiet, high-level donor fundraising campaign will be pursued this year, Graham said, and a public fundraising campaign is planned for 2020.

The clinic portion employs two veterinarians, two veterinary technicians and seven veterinary assistants, although the staff size will likely grow after the expansion.

The full-service veterinary clinic would charge fees on a sliding scale based on the family’s income. Graham said the goal of both the clinic expansion and the behavioral center is to prevent situations where owners are forced to surrender their pets because they can’t afford to pay for treatment of medical or behavioral problems.

“The idea for this whole thing is to keep families together,” Graham said.

A pre-application conference with city planning staff is scheduled for 9 a.m. April 18.

Legislative change

The Humane Society is also working on an effort to change state law to permit more low-income treatment options.

Current Washington law allows qualified humane societies to provide veterinary services to animals in low-income households, but restricts the available services to spaying, neutering, vaccinations and microchip identification.

Washington is an outlier in that regard, according to the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association. All other states allow qualified nonprofit shelters to provide a full range of services if they choose to offer veterinary care, the association wrote in post on its website last year.

“I don’t think anybody ever really thought that much about it (when the Washington law was written),” Graham said.

The Washington restrictions would be lifted under the terms of Senate Bill 5004, which was introduced in January. The proposed language of the new law would still limit humane societies to treating animals from low-income households, but it would make all veterinary services available.

It would also make it easier for Humane Society clinics to provide emergency veterinary services for any animal, and allow them to offer veterinary care to animals during the initial 30 days after adoption. Graham says the Humane Society has been working with two of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, and Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, to develop the legislation.

“We’ve really been the leader on this effort,” Graham said. The bill also has the support of several other Washington humane societies and the Washington Federation for Animal Care and Control Agencies.

A version of the legislation was introduced in 2018, but was delayed at the request of the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association in order to give the group time to more thoroughly poll its members. The association later declared its support for the legislation.

Senate Bill 5004 passed the state Senate on a vote of 49-0 in late February and was referred to the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources. It received a “do pass” recommendation from a majority of committee members on April 2. The bill is now being sent to the House Rules Committee. If it passes there, it goes to a full floor vote.

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