Images shown: Crow Bark House Dog Shelter and McKay Kitty City Cat Shelter
In 1946, the then fledging Soroptimist Club was newly formed and looking for civic projects to support. They were searching for a project that would require little money as their treasury was low. Mrs. George (Lucelia) Wiltse was on the project committee and she suggested that the town needed a Humane Society. The idea was approved and the project received a donation of $25. With this money and the hard work of thirteen ardent volunteers, the Society was chartered in 1947 with the goal of protecting homeless, helpless and suffering animals in Clallam County. Mrs. Wiltse was the backbone of its success.
The first shelter was built in 1949 at 16th and “D” Streets in Port Angeles. The next shelter was built in 1956 on West Highway 101, on a 100 X 100 foot donated lot and was eventually remodeled in 1983. Because of its age and lack of room for expansion, the building was in desperate need of replacement. New property at 1743 Old Olympic Highway, was acquired and a new, state-of-the-art "Bark House" was constructed in 2016 on the beautiful 9.5 acres, where it resides today.
In the middle of the Covid-19 Pandemic, our new cat shelter, "Kitty City" was finally able to open after nearly two long years. We held a ribbon cutting ceremony and an Open House in June 2022.
The 7,500-square-foot facility — which can house as many as 75 cats, kittens and other small critters — opened with more than 40 cats already in residence. Luanne Hinkle, executive director of the organization, said it was a major accomplishment to develop a dedicated feline shelter.
“I’m so excited about the grand opening of the McKay Kitty City Campus,” she said. “It’s been a challenge to get everything going during COVID with the capital campaign, supply issues and labor issues, but, by gosh, we did it.” As a condition of the society’s county permit for the humane society’s animal shelter at 1743 Old Olympic Highway, three mobile homes that had housed felines and administrative and veterinary offices needed to be removed, prompting the need to find another facility. Constructing a new building at the site was cost prohibitive.
The $1.6 million building purchase and remodel was funded by a combination of capital campaign donations, bequests and equipment grants. “It’s nice that the cats are in a good place and they’re not where the dogs are — they have all the room they need to roam.” With the opening of the Boyce Road building, the Old Olympic Highway facility is now for dogs only.
Included in Kitty City are multiple cat rooms with attached outdoor “catios,” allowing felines to experience a bit of the outdoors, as well as cages for non-socialized animals and those requiring isolation or quarantine. A section of the building has been converted for veterinary services with future plans for diagnostic equipment. Also included is a large common room that can be used for community outreach, education programs and other events, Hinkle said. Kitty City will be open by appointment only to reduce stress for the cats.
The animals housed at the Shelter are surrendered by owners who no longer can keep them or are strays. Additionally, the Humane Society has contracts to shelter animals that are picked up by Clallam County Animal Control and the police department in the cities of Sequim and Port Angeles. These animals are released to their owners after the appropriate fines or fees are paid. If they are not claimed by their owner, the animal becomes available for adoption. The shelter currently handles around 1,500 animals a year.
Our mission is to provide the highest level of compassion for the animals entrusted in our care; to measurably reduce companion animals' overpopulation and to take a leadership role in promoting humane values and education for the benefit of animals.
The Olympic Peninsula Humane Society (OPHS), an open admission shelter, is dedicated to maintaining and improving the health and well being of all surrendered, lost, abandoned, neglected and abused companion animals of Clallam County. OPHS serves as a conduit for helping lost animals reunite with their owners, as well as helping adoptable animals find new owners.
Promotion of responsible animal ownership and devotion to population control in the form of spay and neuter programs for shelter animals, as well as spay and neuter financial assistance programs for the public, is a high priority for the OPHS. Additionally, the OPHS is in support of the enforcement of anti-cruelty laws and promotion of proper legislation to assist in the just enforcement of all cruelty laws in Clallam County.
The OPHS does not believe in euthanizing healthy and adoptable animals due to lack of space or length of time at the shelter. Therefore, every effort possible is made to ensure that healthy and adoptable animals will temporarily and securely reside at the shelter, or in foster care until they are adopted or transferred to a partner rescue agency. Furthermore, if an animal should come to us sick or injured, every reasonable effort will be made to seek and carry out proper medical treatment for that animal and monitor their recovery until they are ready for adoption or transfer to a partner rescue agency. Euthanasia at the OPHS will be reserved as a last resort to relieve suffering for the untreatably ill or injured and for very aggressive animals.