FAQs

Found Pets

Is there a fee to bring in a stray animal?

There is no fee to surrender an animal you’ve found. While we don’t have a fee, we will ask for a voluntary donation of $10 to help us care for the animal.

An appointment is needed to bring in a stray animal. Learn more.

Even if you want to keep the animal at your home, we encourage you to bring the animal to us or to a vet clinic to have a microchip scan done.  There may be an owner waiting to hear that you’ve found their pet.

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.

What should I do with a pet I found?

Dogs

If you find a stray dog in Marion County, you must bring it to the Marion County Dog Shelterlocated at 3550 Aumsville Hwy SE or submit a report on their website. Their phone number is (503) 588-5233.

If you find a stray dog in Polk County, you may bring it to Willamette Humane Society. Please call us at (503) 585-5900 to arrange a time to bring the dog in, or come to the shelter during our walk-in time. Click here to learn more about walk-in times.

We will scan the dog for a microchip and hold it for 3-5 days to give owners the opportunity to claim their pet. We will ask you to fill out a brief personality profile to provide us with any details you observed while the dog was in your care. If the dog is not claimed by its owners, it will be evaluated for adoption. Since we depend on donations to serve our community, we ask for a suggested donation of $10 to bring in a stray dog.

Cats

If you find a stray cat in either Marion or Polk County, you may bring it to Willamette Humane Society. Please call us at (503) 585-5900 x300 to arrange a time to bring the cat in, or come to the shelter during our walk-in time. Click here to learn more about walk-in times.

We will scan the cat for a microchip and hold it for 1 business day to give owners the opportunity to claim their pet. We will ask you to fill out a brief personality profile to provide us with any details you observed while the cat was in your care. If the cat is not claimed by its owners, it will be evaluated for adoption. Since we depend on donations to serve our community, we ask for a suggested donation of $10 to bring in a stray cat.

You may also choose to hold the animal at your home while waiting for the owners. If you choose to do this, please bring the animal into WHS so we can scan it for a chip and get a detailed description, along with your contact information. We will keep this report on file for 30 days.

Feral Cats

WHS has traps available to rent.  You may trap and bring in a feral cat, but please understand that feral cats cannot be accepted for our adoption program. Please call us at (503) 585-5900 for an appointment. We charge a fee of $25 to safely handle and accept a feral cat. If you need to trap a feral cat, follow these guidelines and tips for humanely trapping feral cats, compiled by the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon. Traps may be rented from United Rentals (503-393-1222), Capital Rentals (503-378-1122), or from the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon (503-931-2466).

Alternately, you can 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 clinic pages about spaying/neutering feral cats. You can also contact the Feral Cat Coalition for more information about caring for feral cat colonies.

 Farm Animals

WHS cannot accept livestock or farm animals. If you find a stray farm animal, please contact:
Department of Agriculture (503) 986-4681
Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary (503) 394-4486

Wildlife

If you find injured or orphaned wildlife, please contact:
Turtle Ridge Wildlife Center: (503) 540-8664
American Wildlife Foundation: (503) 227-4036
Dept. of Fish & Wildlife: (971) 673-6000

If you have questions or concerns about the removal of wildlife from your home or property, go here for more information and to find a professional trapper or wildlife removal expert.

If you have additional questions about Lost & Found animals, please contact WHS (503) 585-5900

Contact Us

What do I do if I find a cat outdoors?

Cat with Ear Tip TransparentFirst, check if the cat’s ear has been tipped (see diagram). If so, it has been sterilized and you can leave it there. Studies show* that stray and feral cats are able to find food and survive outdoors.

If the cat has a collar, or appears lost or distressed, see if it will approach you to identify the collar or tags, take a photo, and file a Found Cat Report.  The cat may have an owner that is missing it!

If the cat’s ear has not been tipped, and it has no collar, call 503-480-SPAY to arrange for trapping and spay & neuter surgery.

*(Body condition of ferals at TNR (Scott, Levy et al. 2002)Population characteristics of feral cats admitted to seven trap-neuter-return programs in the United States. (Wallace & Levy, 2006))

 

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

Does Willamette Humane Society care for stray/lost animals?

Yes, Willamette Humane Society cares for stray dogs found in Polk County, as well as  all the stray and lost cats found in Marion and Polk Counties.  Stray dogs found in Marion County must go to the Marion County Dog Shelter, located at 3550 Aumsville Hwy SE in Salem.  A report may also be submitted through the organization’s website.  The Marion County Dog Shelter’s phone number is (503) 588-5233.

Community members  may bring lost  animals to WHS by appointment or during walk-in hours. Animals are scanned for a microchip and the Good Samaritan is asked to fill out a brief personality profile to provide us with any details observed while caring for the animal.  Animals not claimed by their owners are evaluated for the adoption pool.  In addition, all injured and ill animals are cared for immediately.   

Sometimes, community members who find a lost or stray pet choose to keep that animal in their homes while waiting for an owner match. In this scenario, the individual should still fill out a found pet report and bring the animal to WHS to be scanned for a microchip.  We keep this report for 30 days or until a match is made.

Since we depend on donations to serve our community, we ask for a suggested donation of $10 to bring in a stray animal.

What is the “hold” time for a stray or lost animal?

Before any animal can be adopted by a new owner, there is a stray hold time to give owners an opportunity to claim their pet.  Oregon law prescribes a three day hold time for dogs without identification and a five day hold time for dogs with identification.  

There are no laws for how long to hold a stray cat, but WHS places a one business day stray hold on a cat without identification. This does not include the day of arrival or any days we are closed to the public. Our return-to-owner rate for felines is no different than when we had a longer stray hold. In fact, stray cats now have greater adoption visibility and faster placement.

How do I report a lost or found pet?

Reports for lost and found pets can be submitted through our website. By facilitating online reporting of lost pets, many lost animals are finding their way back home without ever even coming into the shelter.

What should I do if I find kittens?

The best place for newborn kittens is with their mother, if at all possible.

Check to see if the kittens are still warm. If so, their mother may have gone to find food or hide from you. Call 503-480-SPAY and arrange to borrow a trap to catch their mother. Keep the kittens with their mother and bring them all to the clinic.  The kittens will be kept with their mother in a foster home until they are all old enough to be spayed and neutered.

If the kittens aren’t warm, their mother may have abandoned them.  Heat up a water bottle, wrap it in a towel and put it in a box with the kittens. Call the shelter at 503-585-5900 and dial 0 and arrange to bring them in as soon as possible. If you can’t come immediately, obtain Kitten Meal Replacer (KMR) from a pet supply store or the shelter and follow the directions to feed the kittens.

How do you tell if a litter of kittens has been abandoned, or if their mother is finding food or hiding nearby?

What should you do to help the kittens survive if they ARE in fact abandoned?

These are important questions to ask!

Read a recent article in the Statesman Journal to learn more.

Read More

How to care for kittens

Are They Warm?

If you find abandoned kittens, the first step is to make sure they are warm!

The greatest single danger to abandoned kittens is chilling. A kitten separated from its mother will not live long. Prolonged exposure to cold results in a drop of body temperature and, if it drops below the blood sugar level, the kitten’s internal organs begin a systematic shutdown. If you find abandoned kittens and they feel cold to the touch, hyperthermia has set in and the kitten’s condition is critical.

Here are some techniques you can use to warm the kitten as safely as possible:

Place a heating pad down the side of a cardboard box and half way beneath the box.  You may also use a water bottle filled with warm/hot water, wrapped in a towel.

Put a towel in the bottom of the box. Place the heating pad on the LOW temperature setting. Make sure the heating pad does not cover the entire bottom, so the kitten can move off it if it needs to. If a kitten is cold and needs to be warmed before feeding, you can administer .01cc of Karo Syrup Light orally or by rubbing it on the gums of the kitten. This will help to raise the blood sugar level and stabilize the kitten while it warms. If you don’t have Karo Syrup you can mix a solution of warm water and sugar in equal parts and administer .01cc. Once the kitten’s body temperature has warmed it can receive its first formula. Baby kittens have only a very small amount of body fat and must be fed frequently and in the right amounts to maintain adequate blood sugar levels and provide energy for metabolism. Small, weak kittens do best if they are fed every four hours for the first four days. If they cannot take the amount of formula as shown below, they should be fed more frequently with a lesser amount.

AGE IN WEEKS AVERAGE WEIGHT Feedings
per day
CCs each feeding TOTAL CCs PER DAY
1 4 oz. 6 5cc 32cc
2 7 oz. 4 14cc 56cc
3 10 oz. 3 26cc 80cc
4 13 oz. 3 34cc 104cc
5 1 lb. 3 42cc 128cc

Feeding Methods

Bottle feeding is the preferred method, although some kittens will not suckle on a bottle right away. If this occurs, you can use a syringe to feed the kitten. Follow the same methods as with bottle feeding; just be very careful not to force too much liquid at one time as this may cause fluid to build up in the lungs.

Warm the formula until it feels warm on your wrist. You can warm it in the microwave, but make sure you shake it and place a little on your wrist to make sure it is not too HOT. Place the kitten on its stomach to bottle feed to avoid having the milk run into the kitten’s windpipe. Encourage suckling by keeping a slight pull of the bottle. Do not squeeze formula into the kitten’s mouth as it can go down to fast and make the kitten aspirate.
After each meal a kitten MUST be stimulated to urinate and defecate. Massage the kitten’s anal area with a warm, damp, cotton ball or tissue. This will provide the necessary stimulation. You usually have to continue this stimulation until the kitten is about 3 weeks old and can go on its own.

If your kitten appears restless and cries excessively check to make sure it is getting enough food. As this is a sign of being underfed and can also lead to dehydration and death.

When a kitten is three weeks old you can begin to train it to eat out of a bowl. You can mix the formula with Gerber’s turkey and broth baby food. You can also mix Gerber Rice Cereal with the formula and offer this in a bowl or add a slight bit of the cereal to the bottle when feeding. Continue bottle feeding until you know that the kitten is eating adequately on its own.

A healthy kitten will weigh 3-4 ounces at birth and begin to gain weight rapidly a few days after birth. They should double their weight by one week.

Chart of the normal weight ranges for kittens

Age in Days Weight
1 1 ½ – 4 ¾ oz.
5 3 – 7 oz.
10 4 ½ – 9 ¾ oz.
15 6 – 11 3/4
20 7 ½ – 14 ½ oz.
25 8 – 16 ¾ oz.

 

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

Can I keep a stray cat or dog in my home and submit a found animal report to you?

Yes. Call us to arrange a time to bring the animal in and we will scan for a microchip while you fill out a Found Pet report. If an owner is found, we will contact you.

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



What is the legality of trapping cats in a live trap in the City of Salem?

In Oregon, dogs and cats are considered personal property.  It is theft of personal property when you “take, appropriate, obtain or withhold such property from an owner.”  (ORS 164-015).   So, while it is legal to trap a cat on your property, it may be construed as theft if you knowingly take property from an owner.

When people bring us a roaming animal that freely comes up to them or one they trapped, and provide us with the information we request on where and when the animal was found then that person has met their obligation.

Cats brought to Willamette Humane Society in a live-release trap are scanned for microchips if surrendered to the shelter, but not before spay & neuter surgery in the clinic.

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.

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

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2 Weeks

  • Eyes open


3 Weeks

  • Crawling
  • Baby teeth erupt


4 Weeks

  • Walking
  • Playing



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