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The Whatcom Humane Society is still open and providing essential care for animals. Tina, a shelter dog at the Whatcom Humane Society, smiles for a quick photo. // Photo courtesy of Whatcom Humane Society

By Makenna Marks

Businesses like grocery stores and pharmacies have remained open as essential for the public. The community has come together to help those in need by donating to food banks and tipping delivery drivers a little more than usual. But what about animal care facilities?

According to Gov. Jay Inslee’s list of essential businesses, animal care facilities like the Whatcom Humane Society will remain open to provide care. 

However, business is not as usual. Public access to the facility has been limited and adoption kennels will remain closed until at least May 4. 

But one thing that hasn’t changed is their Statement of Principal: “The Whatcom Humane Society believes that all animals, as sentient beings, have value beyond economic measurements and are entitled to legal, moral, and ethical consideration and protection.”

Even in the midst of a pandemic, the Whatcom Humane Society will not turn an animal away, no matter its age, breed or condition.

Members of the foster care program have been able to make this possible. 

“We are fortunate that our wonderful volunteer teams have opened their hearts and homes and are providing foster homes to over 60 shelter animals, which allows our kennels to have plenty of room for new arrivals,” Laura Clark, director of the Whatcom Humane Society, said in an email.  

The foster care program is the only volunteer program still active at the Whatcom Humane Society right now. 

Carly Todhunter, the volunteer and outreach services manager at Whatcom Humane Society, said in an email that foster care volunteers have not been able to fulfill “normal” shifts since Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order went into effect. 

According to the Humane Society’s website, foster care volunteers are normally required to attend a volunteer session, but all sessions have been canceled at this time. 

Other volunteer opportunities through the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and vet clinic have also been postponed for the time being. 

“Once the [stay-at-home] order is lifted, we will start slowly bringing volunteers back in phases,” Todhunter said in an email. 

Even though access to the Whatcom Humane Society facilities is limited and adoption kennels are closed to the public, adopting a pet is still possible. While you cannot physically go to the Humane Society to meet the pets, photos and descriptions are available online. 

This has proven to be a bit of a challenge for Brenna Ellis, a third-year elementary education student at Western. 

In a direct message conservation over Facebook, Ellis said that she has been looking to adopt another cat to help with her current cat’s anxiety. 

“Since you can’t meet with the pet before you adopt them, it has been hard to make a decision about what pet would fit well in my home,” Ellis said. 

Clark said that with everything going on related to COVID-19 and the stay-at-home order, the Whatcom Humane Society has not seen an increase in surrendered animals, but there has been a decrease in adoptions. 

To adopt a pet right now, fill out the application online and wait to hear back from a Whatcom Humane Society staff member. 

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