FAQ

Is the Whatcom Humane Society a “no-kill” shelter?

What do I do if I find a stray animal or see an animal in need? 

How long are stray animals held at Whatcom Humane Society?  

How long do animals stay up for adoption at the Whatcom Humane Society?

What is the Whatcom Humane Society’s Animal Wellness Plan? 

How is it decided which animals will be made available for adoptions and which will be euthanized? 

How is euthanasia done?


What is a “no-kill” shelter?

No.  The Whatcom Humane Society is an open-admission facility.  We turn no animal away, regardless of the animal’s age, temperament, breed, medical condition, physical condition or the amount of space available in our shelter facilities.

In order to operate a “no-kill” facility, an organization must limit the number of animals it receives to those it has the resources to care for and the room to house at any given time. In a world where there are many more animals in need of homes than there are homes available, a “no-kill” or “limited admission” shelter can only maintain that status by turning some animals away. Those denied admission must be taken elsewhere to be adopted or euthanized. While “no-kill” shelters help some of the animals in a community, they cannot meet the needs of many of the stray or at-risk animals that are served by an “open-admission” facility like the Whatcom Humane Society.

“No-kill” or “limited admission” facilities can only function well in communities that have an open admission shelter.

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What do I do if I find a stray animal or see an animal in need?

If you find a stray animal or see an animal in need, please contact our animal control & rescue department at (360)733-2080, extension # 3017 for assistance.

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How long are stray animals held at Whatcom Humane Society?

Stray animals that are picked up or brought to the shelter without identification are held for a minimum of 3 – 5 days, not counting the day they came into the shelter or Tuesday and holidays. Those animals that come into the shelter wearing identification are held a minimum of 10 days. When stray animals are admitted, we make every attempt to locate their owner(s).If the animal is not claimed by the end of the stray holding period, he/she becomes the property of WHS and is carefully evaluated to determine whether he/she will be made available for adoption or euthanized.

Factors taken into consideration upon making this decision often include the animal’s age, health, temperament and physical condition, as well as the amount of space available at the shelter.

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How long do animals stay up for adoption at the Whatcom Humane Society?

WHS has no set time that an animal stays at the shelter. Each animal is treated as an individual and evaluated on an individual basis. We will hold an animal as long as necessary providing there are resources available and the animal is physically and psychologically healthy.  WHS has a large network of “foster homes” that animals are placed into for various reasons including age, health and space available at the shelter.

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What is the Whatcom Humane Society’s Animal Wellness Plan?

The Whatcom Humane Society heightened its commitment to caring for animals by incorporating a comprehensive Animal Wellness Plan which includes:

  • Full time veterinarian provides in-house veterinary services for shelter animals five days a week.
  • Each animal receives a thorough physical examination by a trained animal care technician. The animal is given a “report card” that is monitored twice daily. The “report card” allows WHS staff and volunteers to observe the animal’s appetite, energy level, stool, general health and other daily activities, thus making it easier to notice changes in the animal that need to be further evaluated.
  • When necessary, each animal has a medical treatment plan prescribed by the veterinarian.

Several veterinary hospitals are now offering a free one-time basic exam with each WHS adoption. New adopters present the veterinary hospital with a copy of the animal’s WHS medical card at their initial appointment. This partnership benefits everyone as the participating veterinary hospitals increase their client base while WHS is assured that adopters are getting started on the “right paw” by taking their new companion animal to the vet.

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How is it decided which animals will be made available for adoptions and which will be euthanized?

After the initial holding period, most animals that are relatively healthy and temperamentally sound will be made available for adoption. Those animals that would not qualify for adoption are those with aggressive behavior or those whose physical state involves pain or ongoing suffering. WHS works with rescue groups and with other shelters to place animals in appropriate homes.

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How is euthanasia done?

Euthanasia is the act of facilitating a good death. Dogs are euthanized by an intravenous injection of an overdose of sodium pentobarbital. In approximately eight seconds the dog is rendered unconscious and the entire system shuts down within a few minutes. Cats are euthanized by an intraperitoneal injection. While this process takes longer, it is less stressful than an intravenous injection for cats. The euthanasia process requires a trained and certified technician. The procedure is a quick and painless one.

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