Surrendering a Pet or Stray

Due to Covid-19 & until further notice,
all surrenders are by appointment only.

Thank you for your understanding.

Deciding to give up a pet can be difficult.

We understand there are times when families must consider surrendering a pet. We encourage you to exhaust all other options before surrendering. Often people think they must give up their pet because they do not know how to handle a particular issue.

However, many issues such as chewing, excessive barking, scratching furniture, urination and even allergies can be addressed. An unexpected life event such as illness, death or unplanned move may make caring for a pet seem impossible. But for most situations there is help, solutions and/or services available to overcome or reduce the effects of obstacles.

Willamette Humane Society can be a resource for behavioral, medical treatment, services, or recommendations that may help you keep your pet. Read our tips for re-homing your pet. If you believe surrendering a pet is the best option, we may be able to help.

Please note, for the safety of the pets and people:

  • We only accept dogs and cats.
  • Dogs must be on a leash
  • Cats must be in a carrier
  • If you do not have a leash or carrier, please leave the animal in the car when you arrive and check in with an employee. We have leashes and carriers for use when surrendering an animal or bringing in a stray.


Instead of a set fee, Willamette Humane Society operates on a “give what you can” donation when surrendering an animal. We rely primarily on donations to care for more than 3,600 animals annually, and on average, it costs $750 to provide care for each pet at the shelter. Your donation helps make that care possible for the animal you are surrendering, as well as thousands of other cats and dogs each year.
How can you contribute today? Consider a Donation at this time.

Cats : 

  • Strays: Appointment required; Call 503-585-5900 and leave a message
  • Owner Surrender, Appointments Required, Call 503-585-5900 and leave a message
  • To save time please fill out & bring with you the “Cat personality form


  • Strays found in Marion County –  must go to the Marion County Dog Shelter  
  • Strays found in Polk County: Appointment required; Call 503-585-5900 and leave a message
  • Owner Surrender, Appointments Required, Call 503-585-5900 and leave a message
  • To save time please fill out & bring with you the “Dog personality form

Prior to surrendering, please fill out a pet behavior questionnaire to help us place your pet in the appropriate home.

Dog Personality Questionnaire

Dog Personality Questionnaire

 Cat Personality Questionnaire

Cat Personality Questionnaire

Contact us about Surrendering a Pet

Surrendering a Pet

Do you give pet behavior advice?

If you have a specific question or behavioral issue with your pet you’d like to discuss, call or email our Behavior Helpline. We can often point pet owners in the right direction, solve minor issues, and even prevent a pet from being surrendered due to their behaviors in some instances.

The Helpline is checked regularly and messages will be returned by a behavior professional as soon as possible.

When contacting the Behavior Helpline, please include the following information:

  • Your full name
  • Your phone number
  • The best time to return your call
  • Type of animal (cat, dog, other)
  • How long you’ve had the animal
  • A brief summary of the problem or question

Call (503) 585-5900, ext. 318

Who serves rabbits in our community?

Currently, WHS only shelters cats and dogs.

  • The best resource for all things bunny is Rabbit Advocates in Portland.
  • Oregon Humane Society also takes rabbits.
  • Local Petco stores are very willing to rehome small pets.  Our local Petcos store are located at Keizer Station, on Lancaster Drive and on S. Commercial.

How do I fill out and save information in online pdf forms?

If you’re having trouble saving information in online pdf forms for adoption applications, foster applications, behavior questionnaires, or other forms, please try the following steps:

  • Before filling in the pdf form, save it to your device.

Save the PDF to your Device before filling in the fields.


  •  Edit your saved form in Adobe PDF Reader to enable saving data typed into the fields.  You should see a purple confirmation bar at the top of the form confirming that your data can be saved.

You can now save fields



  • If the pdf is unable to be saved, consider printing your form using a virtual pdf printer to save electronically.
  • Save your form as a new pdf with a unique file name.
  • Submit your form through e-mail or upload to the contact form of

Do you offer pet food assistance?

Willamette Humane Society contributes the majority of its donated pet food to Meals on Wheels of America, who distributes the food to needy individuals through their home delivery program. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide pet food to individuals who visit the shelter, but you may be able to receive pet food through the following agencies.  Please call for details about availability and pick up times.



Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency (ARCHES)

  • 1164 Madison St NE, Salem, OR 97301
  • Telephone: 503-399-9080
  • Fax: 503-399-9118
  • Cherriot’s Bus Lines #3, #17, and #20
  • Office hours: Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm




Salvation Army

Salvation Army Salem

  • 1977 Front St. NE, Salem, OR 97301
  • Telephone: (503) 585-6688
  • Office Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 am – 12 pm, 1 pm – 4 pm



Pongo Fund

The Pongo Fund (Portland)

  • 3632 SE 20th Avenue, Portland, OR 97202
  • Telephone: 503-939-7555


FIDO Dog Food Bank (Oregon City)

CAT Adoption Team (Sherwood)

What Can I Do With My Cat if the Shelter is Full?

What can I do?

  • You can try to postpone surrendering your cat until the shelter will have more space and resources available.
  • If your cat is a stray, you can post flyers around your neighborhood, scan for a microchip at a vet or at the shelter, fill out a found report online, or wait until more space and resources are available.
  • If you have a litter of kittens, you can foster them in your home until they are old enough for adoption (2.5 lbs or 8-10 weeks) prior to a surrender appointment.
  • If you’re unable to wait for an appointment at a later date, you can attempt to rehome your cat through your network of friends or family, or through a personal ad online or in the newspaper.
  • If your cat is in good health, friendly, and social, or if you’re otherwise unable to wait or rehome your cat through other means, please contact us for a surrender consultation by calling 503-585-5900.

Contact us About Surrendering a Pet

What are some common issues that may affect my cat’s adoptability during kitten season?

  • History of bites.
  • Problems using a litterbox.
  • Runny nose or eyes.  Sneezing.
  • Missing patches of hair or other skin issues.
  • Fearful, shy, or aggressive behavior at home.
  • Social problems with other animals.
  • Social problems with people.

What is the cat overpopulation?

During a time period of the year known as “kitten season” in late spring through early fall, there is an influx of kittens born in the community and brought to the shelter. Over time, this breeding cycle has created a cat-overpopulation in our community, leading to shelter overpopulation, over-supply of adoptable cats for a limited number of adopters, increased euthanasia rates for cats, increased abandonment of cats by owners, and a large population of free-roaming cats on the streets.

Willamette Humane Society remains the only managed-intake sheltering resource for cats in our community who will accept surrendered cats even when full.

How Does Cat Overpopulation Affect Cats?

Cat overpopulation affects the number the cats the shelter is able to serve and re-home. While we don’t turn any cats away, our capacity is limited by shelter space and our foster network.  Cats with moderate to severe social, behavioral, or health problems may not meet the minimum criteria for adoption, and may be humanely euthanized by veterinary certified euthanasia technicians through lethal injection.  Older cats may have trouble competing with the many young kittens available for adoption.  While there is no time-limit for pets at Willamette Humane Society, cats that spend long periods of time at the shelter may become sick and stressed.

Do you accept walk-ins?


Walk-in space is limited and prioritized on a case-by-case basis for end-of-life services and strays. If you need to surrender an animal, an appointment is required to allow our staff adequate time to perform a brief exam and a behavior evaluation. (Please note: you are welcome to schedule an appointment to bring in your Marion or Polk County stray as well. Also, please be aware that WHS accepts only cats and dogs.)

Walk-in hours are held Thursday through Monday from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Community members are welcome to arrive when the shelter opens and place their name on the walk-in waitlist for that specific day. Please note we have a limited number of walk-in appointments each day based on our current capacity.

There is a risk that we may not be able to serve you as a walk-in and an appointment is strongly encouraged!

Please call 503-585-5900, ext. 300, and a customer service representative will recommend the best available appointment or walk-in options for your situation.

Contact us about Appointment Availability

Do you accept cats or dogs from residents living outside of Marion and Polk Counties?

Willamette Humane Society’s service area is primarily Marion and Polk County.

If you live outside of Marion or Polk County, see the following list of shelters or rescue groups in your area.

Sheltering Resources by County


If there are no services in your area, we encourage you to contact your elected officials about the need for animal services in your county.  To find the elected officials in your county or district, go to, or contact your county commissioner.

While Willamette Humane Society primarily serves Marion and Polk Counties for owner surrenders, we consider animals from other Oregon counties, rescues, and agencies on a case-by-case basis. We weigh factors such as the availability of other shelters and resources, distance, and the likelihood of a positive outcome at our facility.  Surrendered animals from outside our service area are admitted with approval from our shelter director.

Call us at 503-585-5900 for questions about surrendering from out-of-county.

Contact us online


Other Oregon Sheltering Resources by County

Heartland Humane Society
398 S Twin Oaks Circle
Corvallis, OR 97333
(541) 757-9000

Benton County Dog Control
180 NW 5th Street
Corvallis, OR 97330
(541) 753-0732

Clackamas County Animal Shelter
13141 SE Highway 212
Clackamas, OR 97015-8901
(503) 655-8628

CAT Adoption Team
14175 SW Galbreath Drive
Sherwood, OR 97140
(503) 925-8903

Oregon Humane Society
1067 NE Columbia Blvd.
Portland, OR 97211
(503) 285-7722

Greenhill Humane Society
88530 Green Hill Rd
Eugene, OR 97402-9111
(541) 689-1503

Central Coast Humane Society
P.O. Box 71
Newport, Oregon 97365
(541) 265-3719

Lincoln County Animal Shelter
510 NE Harney
Newport, OR 97365
(541) 265-6610 opt 6

SafeHaven Humane Society
33071 Highway 34 SE
Albany, OR 97322-7232
(541) 928-2789

Linn County Dog Control
3008 Ferry St. SW
Albany, OR 97321
(541) 967-3925

Homeward Bound Pets
10605 Loop Rd
Dayton, OR 97114
(503) 472-0341

Newberg Animal Shelter
901 Brutscher St.
Suite D-107
Newberg, OR 97132

Yamhill County Animal Control
2070 Lafayette Ave
McMinnville, OR 97128
(503) 434-7538

Bonnie  L. Hays
Small Animal Shelter

1901 SE 24th Ave
Hillsboro, OR 97123-8163
(503) 846-7041

Pet Friendly Apartments

Statistics show that almost 50% of renters have pets. For rental property managers, it makes good business sense to maintain a policy that welcomes responsible pet owners. An animal-friendly policy will increase the marketability of a housing property or community and often results in an increased length of occupancy. Tenants must be willing to show proof that they are responsible pet owners, take measures to ensure their pets act appropriately, and adhere to all pet-related rules established by their housing community.

When tenants and property managers work together, it can be a win-win situation for all and result in fewer animals surrendered to shelters.

Here are some tips to help both tenants and property managers:

What about “surrendered” animals?

Surrendered animals are those brought in by their owners. Pets are surrendered for a variety of reasons, including the death of an owner, relocation, incorrect household fit, etc. There is no required holding period for these animals before making them available for adoption.  

Can an animal be left at the shelter for placement, but taken back if the only option is euthanasia?

We work hard to serve every animal that comes through our doors, but sometimes the transition into shelter life is just too difficult for an animal. In 2016, we implemented  a call-back program for the person surrendering an animal.  If we cannot help the animal in our adoption program, the surrendering party has the option of being called to see if they can take the animal back. We encourage people to do everything possible to find an appropriate home for their animals before bringing them to the shelter.

What is Willamette Humane Society’s admissions policy?

It is our goal to accept healthy, friendly cats and dogs from Marion and Polk Counties by appointment and place them in loving, new homes. Staff discuss options with owners whose pets are not accepted for adoption, including referrals to other shelters or rescue groups.  Animals that display extreme aggression or are suffering mentally and/or physically may be recommended for humane euthanasia. The decision to euthanize an animal is never taken lightly, and each case is thoroughly assessed on an individual basis.

Is there a fee to surrender my pet?

Instead of a set fee, Willamette Humane Society operates on a “give what you can” donation when surrendering an animal.

We rely primarily on donations to care for more than 3,600 animals annually, and on average, it costs $750 to provide care for each pet at the shelter. Your donation helps make that care possible for the animal you are surrendering, as well as thousands of other cats and dogs each year. How can you contribute today?

Can I bring in a feral cat?

WHS accepts feral and free-roaming cats in traps.  A feral cat is an unsocial, fearful, and aggressive cat that cannot be safely handled outside of a trap.  However, most cats caught in traps are actually friendly free-roaming cats or strays.  Please be aware that true feral cats cannot be accepted into our adoption program, and will be euthanized if brought to the shelter and not the Spay & Neuter Clinic.  Please call 503-585-5900 for an appointment.  We charge a fee of $25 to safely handle and accept a feral cat.  If WHS staff determine that the cat is a friendly free-roaming cat eligible for adoption, the fee will be reduced to the standard $10 suggested donation.

Alternately, we encourage you to make an appointment to bring a feral cat to our spay & neuter clinic, where he or she will be sterilized and returned to you. The cost is $43 per cat and includes the spay or neuter surgery, rabies vaccination, flea and ear mite treatment.  See our website for more information about low-cost spay and neuter services, or call 503-480-SPAY. You can also contact the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon or refer to the Alley Cat Allies website for information about Trap Neuter Return and caring for feral cat colonies

What are your open hours? How can we reach you?

  • Mon: 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm
  • Tue: CLOSED
  • Wed: CLOSED
  • Thu – Fri: 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm
  • Sat – Sun: 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm
4246 Turner Rd SE
Salem, OR 97317
503-585-5900Contact the Shelter

Receptionists are available to answer phones and return calls during business hours, and on Wednesday evening.

  • Mon – Sat: 10:30 am – 6:00 pm
  • Sun: CLOSED
548 High St NE (between Union & Marion)
Salem, OR 97301
503-362-6892Contact the Thrift Store

Is Willamette Humane Society a “no kill” shelter?

Willamette Humane Society (WHS) is a “managed intake” shelter, which means we accept cats, kittens, puppies and dogs primarily from Marion and Polk Counties as space and resources allow.

While we are not an official participant of the “No Kill” movement, all of the conditions and programs collectively referred to as the “no kill equation” are actively implemented at Willamette Humane Society.

We are committed to saving as many pets as possible.  Each animal is treated as an individual upon intake.  There are no time limits for any animal in our shelter, and outcomes are determined by health and temperament.  When a pet cannot be admitted to our adoption program, the pet owner is provided with alternative options.

Thanks to financial and volunteer support from our community, there are resources to help each animal thrive until adoption.   Animals receive medical care as well as training, exercise, and socialization based on that animal’s individual needs.  In addition, WHS is a resource to people needing free behavior advice, training classes, and low cost spay and neuter services.  Finally, our robust humane education programs in the schools train the next generation of pet owners.

Our 2015-2016 save rate of 90% for dogs rising 80% for cats is an indicator of shelter and community success in rehoming animals.  The number of animals we save each year is available to the public in our annual report.

What types of animals do you adopt?

WHS focuses on placing dogs and cats in loving, new homes. WHS does not accept or adopt out small pets, exotic animals, reptiles, or farm animals. If you need help re-homing a small pet or farm animal, ask our Customer Service Staff for referrals to other organizations or read our FAQ section about re-homing small pets.

Do you accept small pets?

WHS does not currently accept small pets. If you need to re-home a rabbit, guinea pig, bird, rodent, or other small pet, see the following tips for re-homing your small pet and a list of referrals to rescue groups or other outlets.


Tips for Rehoming Your Small Pet

When you are no longer able to care for your small pet in your household, Willamette Humane Society encourages you to locate a new home for your beloved pet.

Some tips and ideas include:

  • Contact friends, neighbors, co-workers, and church or club members and let them know you are looking for a home for your small pet. Don’t forget about teammates of your child’s sports, music, scouting or other groups.
  • Post the offer of a well-mannered, family-friendly pet on your local Craig’s list, community TV bulletin board, and grocery store and coffee house bulletin boards.
  • Consider a small classified listing in your local newspapers. Some newspapers, including the Statesman Journal, allow you to post free classifieds in their online editions.
  •  Call local elementary schools, child-care businesses, 4H or FFA clubs, as they may be interested in your donation of your pet, cage and remaining bedding/food to get the group or a member interested in responsible animal care.
  • Have you considered a group home, elderly foster care home or an elder neighbor who might be limited in their mobility but would love a small “pocket pet” to keep them company?
  • Many small pets can be easily cared for in a home or apartment and fit into many different families. We suggest you screen potential new homes carefully and visit with potential new owners to share your own experience and knowledge of your pet – as well as the dietary, care and exercise needs the pet requires.


Kathy Bremer
(541) 974-4258
(503) 394-3076

Exotic Bird Club of Oregon
(503) 362-1982
Rose City Exotic Bird Rescue
PO Box 68342
Oak Grove, OR 97268-0342
(503) 221-4213

NW Bird Rescue
13215 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd.
Suite C-8 P.M.B. # 101 Vancouver, WA  98684
(503) 247-3626

Audubon Society
5151 NW Cornell Road
Portland, OR 97210
(503) 292-6855

Michelle Blake
(503) 391-1360

Oregon Humane Society
1067 NE Columbia Blvd
Portland, OR 97211
(503) 285-7722 x211

Guinea Pig

Rabbit Advocates

Oregon Humane Society
1067 NE Columbia Blvd
Portland, OR 97211
(503) 285-7722 x211

Local Petco stores are very willing to rehome small pets.  Local Petco store are in Keizer, on Lancaster Drive and on S. Commercial.

Why do so many people surrender their animals? Is there something wrong with the animals?

Most animals are surrendered because the owner’s circumstances change, not because there is anything wrong with the animal. People may find that they can no longer afford to care for their animal, they need to move and their new housing does not accept pets, or they no longer have the time to spend with them. Failure to spay or neuter a pet also results in hard-to-place litters, which are then brought to the shelter.  Many animals brought to Willamette Humane are healthy, temperamentally sound, and terrific companions for their new adopters.

How to determine a kitten’s age

All kittens are born with closed eyes and closed ear canals. They can neither see nor hear during the first few days of life. Kittens find their way to a mother’s nipple by sense of smell and tactile sensations. The ear canals will begin to open at 5-8 days of life. Eyes begin to open at 8 days and are completely open at 14 days. All kittens are born with blue eyes and their true colors appear when they are three weeks old.

Developmental Milestones


2 Weeks

  • Eyes open

3 Weeks

  • Crawling
  • Baby teeth erupt

4 Weeks

  • Walking
  • Playing



Learn More