Auburn Valley Humane Society opened its doors on January 1, 2013. That first year, the Humane Society had 1,433 animals admitted, and an operating budget of approximately $475,000. But as Auburn grew, the leadership of the Auburn Valley Humane Society saw the need for more programs to meet the needs of city residents. In 2018, Auburn Valley Humane Society admitted 2266 animals, including over 500 animals from other shelters that were at risk for euthanasia. They also spayed or neutered over 1,500 animals this past year.
To learn more about Auburn Valley Humane Society’s mission, its programs and its upcoming gala, we talked with Auburn Valley Humane Society’s Executive Director, Phil Morgan.
MB: What can you tell us about Auburn Valley Humane Society’s mission?
PM: Our mission statement is to enrich “the lives of companion animals and people through animal sheltering, programs, services and community engagement.”
Animal welfare organizations are often focused only on animals. But Auburn Valley Humane Society views ourselves as an organization concerned with providing human and animal services. We’ve never had a dog call us to ask if we sell dog licenses. So often it’s people we help, and then by helping people, we’re able to help animals.
We’re also committed to making sure all our animals are in excellent medical health before they leave. People sometimes adopt an older dog or cat and then spend $700 on dental bills. We believe in giving the animal the care necessary before they leave the facility. And if for whatever reason, we can’t address a specific medical condition, we make sure that the adopters understand the financial and health ramifications of that.
MB: What are some of the programs that Auburn Valley Humane Society uses to help Auburn residents?
PM: Our adoption program is the foundation of Auburn Valley Humane Society. We’re a managed -admission animal center, and we partner with other animal welfare organizations with high euthanasia rates, so we accept animals from those facilities as well. We also have a low-cost spay and neuter program called SPOT (Stop Pet Overpopulation Today).
We do a lot of programs to reach out to children. Auburn Valley Humane Society developed a humane education program that meets Washington State education criteria. It covers six different topics, and there are different levels that can be taught to different ages of children and young adults. We also have a Girl Scout Badge program so you can do a project with your troupe. We also have a shelter buddies reading program, where kids can sign up and read to cats.
Auburn Valley Humane Society also works to provide programs that meet the needs of senior citizens. We have pet therapy animals that visit assisted living or nursing homes. Seattle Humane Society partners with us to have a senior citizen’s pet food bank. And if you’re a senior who’s living in the city of Auburn, we will adopt a senior pet to you at no charge and give you a license for that pet.
We also have a domestic violence program. Ninety-two percent of women experiencing domestic violence won’t leave because they’re afraid the perpetrator will injure their pet. Most women’s shelters don’t take pets, so we work with King County’s Domestic Violence program. We house someone’s pets so they can leave safely and know their pets are safe. Then, we reunite them later.
There are also three new programs we’ve launched or will launch shortly. One is the public medical fund. It pays for surgeries that people can’t afford. For example, if you have a dog and he broke his leg, but you can’t afford to get $500 surgery for it, we’ll pay for it.
We also partnered with Auburn first responders, police, firefighters and Auburn General to help animals whose caretakers experience a medical crisis. We call this program Pets in Crisis. In the past, people who were in the hospital for long stays might have their animals put into a shelter and then adopted by another family. Now, if the owner is in crisis, Auburn Valley Humane Society will board that owner’s animals until a decision has been made by you or your family members. A similar program is called Pets Without Me, where a pet owner proactively decides what to do with their pets in case of death or incapacitation. You tell us your wishes, and then we will help you come up with a plan to care for your pet. We’re really trying to take a load off families and give the people involved some piece of mind.
MB: What can you tell us about your annual gala and auction?
PM: This year, we’re holding our annual gala on Saturday, March 23rd from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Green River College. People who are interested in the event can learn more and buy tickets on our website. We’re also honoring three people at the gala with our Wet Noses award.
During the gala, there is an auction which has some cool items. This year, we have a Tom Petty guitar and a Darth Vader helmet signed by several significant cast members of the Star Wars movies, including Carrie Fisher.
The money we raise that night will contribute to programs to lower our length of stay for dogs and cats, as well as our live release rate.
MB: If people want to support Auburn Valley Humane Society, are there other ways to donate?
PM: Yes! If you visit our website, you can donate by clicking on the donate now button on the top right corner of our site. You can also specify which program you’d like to support or donate on behalf of someone else.
We’re also happy to accept donations the old-fashioned way, and you can specify on the memo line of your check if there’s a specific program that you’d like to support.
Auburn Valley Humane Society also runs a thrift store, which accepts donations of gently used items. All the proceeds go to fund our work.
We’re also always thrilled to accept volunteers. Last year, we were given 34,000 hours of time from our generous volunteers. Many of our programs wouldn’t be possible without their work. ***