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Paws For a Beer hosts monthly adoption events

Head over to Paws, grab a drink and enjoy their adoption event with Alternative Humane Society

A string of lights in the outside courtyard at Paws For A Beer on Feb 1. in Bellingham, Wash. Dogs are allowed to be off leash and run around the fenced area. // Photo by Valeria Molina

Paws For a Beer and Alternative Humane Society have teamed up to host monthly adoption events. Dogs from AHS will be at Paws, a pet-friendly tavern, allowing them to meet potential adopters through a comfortable environment. 

Alternative Humane Society, founded in 1977, is a Whatcom non profit rescue organization run entirely by volunteers. AHS does not have a shelter, and is a home-based foster program for cats and dogs. The volunteer intake process has been revamped and is accepting the first volunteer applications since the COVID-19 pandemic. Their first volunteer orientation will be taking place in the next couple of weeks. 

Several years ago, Rylan Schoen and his wife were dog foster parents through AHS, and after opening Paws For a Beer, offered their space to host adoption events. Their energetic working dog, Crosby, didn't like to sit still and wanted to run around everywhere he went. According to Rylan, necessity inspired him to open and combine a dog park and beer garden.

“We’ve been working with AHS since our inception here,” Schoen said. “Our second dog, Cleo, actually came from the Alternative Humane Society.”

Paws For a Beer typically hosts around three adoption events per month, and is there to provide the space for adoptable dogs. 

“They are really big rescue dog believers,” Pat Atkinson, AHS event lead, said. “They don’t just support AHS, they also have several other rescue organizations that they host on a regular basis.” 

Unlike meeting a dog in a cage at a shelter, Paws offers adopters the chance to see them run around off leash. This allows the dogs to interact with everyone and show off their personality in a safe environment.

“We are a safe place for dog lovers and a safe place for dogs,” Schoen said. “You don’t need a dog to come hangout down here, it's a community.”

The monthly event will be held on the fourth Saturday of the month, rain or shine, from 2-4 p.m. Same day adoptions will not be available, but people who are interested in a dog can reach out and make arrangements to interact with them. 

Handling multiple animals at a time can be difficult, but one of the main challenges AHS faces is actually getting animals to bring to the event. 

“We have to be careful about which animals we bring, which sometimes is pretty limiting. They have to be six months old, spayed or neutered and up to date on their shots,” Atkinson said. “The animals we take in are frequently not any of those things.”

However, if they don’t have any dogs to show, they will still have a table set up on the day of the event to talk to anyone interested. Atkinson mentioned they are always looking for potential foster families and volunteers, and this is a great way to interact with them.

Potential foster and adoptive families don’t need previous dog ownership experience, but are screened for living situations. AHS does everything to make sure adoptions are a success, but has had animals returned occasionally. Their primary focus is always what’s going to be the best fit for the animal. There are times when a specific dog will have 50 or 60 applications, which makes it a hard decision, according to Atkinson.

“You just never know when the right animal is going to tug on those heart strings,” Atkinson said.

Grace Meyer, a student at Western Washington University, has had experience volunteering at a shelter, and has adopted as well. Volunteering made Meyer and her family more comfortable and familiar with some of the conditions the dogs are received in. 

She recommends adopting through a shelter because they are often overcrowded and unadopted dogs may get euthanized. You’ll often find a better match for a dog since there’s so many different breeds and ages, she mentioned.

“[A] good memory is when she took a whole rotisserie chicken off the counter, and she ate it… all of it,” Meyer said, speaking about her adopted dog, Iggy.

Alternative Humane Society volunteer applications are welcome and available on their website. More information about adoptable pets and events are regularly posted on their social media.

Valeria Molina

Valeria Molina (she/her) is a city life reporter for The Front this quarter. She is a junior majoring in Public Relations and International Business. In her free time, you will find her skiing at Mount Baker, thrifting, reading and listening to music with friends. You can reach her at 

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