Willamette Humane Society (WHS) was founded in 1965 by local civic leaders and serves Marion and Polk counties.

Humble Beginnings with Heart

Whoever coined the phrase “where there’s a will, there’s a way,” obviously knew something about the power of human determination… and perhaps also knew Jessie B. Mickelson, Eleanor Gordon‐Thompson and Jeanne Beardsley. These “founding mothers” of the Willamette Humane Society drew inspiration from the rundown, undersized and outdated shelter facility which was the Marion County Dog Pound in 1965. They had the heart and the will to organize a group in Salem for the purpose of protecting and promoting the welfare of animals.
After extensive fundraising efforts, the 11‐member fledgling organization finally raised enough funds in 1969 to begin construction of a modest facility containing only 20 dog, and 25 cat kennels. The shelter was open for business less than five months later on the grounds just north of the current shelter.

The facility took in an average of 1,500 animals every month within the first year of operation. In July of 1972, phase two of the construction began, doubling the capacity and adding dog runs as well as separate puppy and kitten rooms. Fast‐forward to 2012. Today’s modern facility is aesthetically appealing. A vaulted lobby ceiling, state‐of‐the‐art spay/neuter clinic, spacious grounds and warm atmosphere work together to create a welcoming environment for prospective owners to visit their potential new family members.

Today’s Humane Society is a far cry from its 60’s‐era counterpart. At a spacious 22,000 square feet, with 7 acres of dog runs, a recreation area and housing 65 dog and 142 cat kennels, in addition to ample parking for visitors; today’s facility has come a long way. But in the nearly 50 years since the original idea for a shelter for the Willamette Valley’s pets in need was born, one thing has remained the same. It is the strength, the support, the will power and the drive of our members, staff, volunteers, and community leaders that give us the one thing that endures… heart. And as long as the heart beats strong for our animals, the Willamette Humane Society will be here protecting and promoting their welfare.

“WHS is dedicated to establishing, maintaining, and enhancing the bond between companion animals and people of Marion and Polk counties.”

Dedicated to providing compassionate services to pets and people, WHS exists to:

Assist pets and people in transition
Complete families through adoption
Reduce pet overpopulation
Teach responsible pet care
Alleviate pet suffering

Core Values of Staff & Volunteers

Positive Service to All
Sharing Knowledge
Collaborative Problem Solving
Initiative and Innovation
Accountability and Responsibility
Safe Actions

Brief Paws Newsletter is the printed quarterly of Willamette Humane Society.

Brief Paws features happy tails of adopted pets, features on programs and events, a service directory, tribute listings, and important updates from Willamette Humane Society’s Executive Director or Board of Directors.
Brief Paws newsletter is sent to active supporters of the shelter. If you donated, volunteered, adopted, or otherwise requested to receive mailings recently, you can expect to receive a copy of Brief Paws newsletter. Call 503-585-5900 ext 324 to ask about receiving Brief Paws.

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