Letter: Outcomes show WAIF is employing best practices

Editor,

To address some misunderstandings in the article published Jan. 9, 2019, as WAIF’s Executive Director, I wanted to provide clarification for those in the community.

WAIF has two cat adoption facilities (Freeland and Oak Harbor), not one as listed in the story, in addition to our main shelter in Coupeville.

In the article, a 6 percent euthanasia rate was extrapolated from our average Live Release Rate of 94 percent.

Non-live outcomes also include animals that have died in shelter, including those undergoing treatment, but failing to survive, or those with an unknown condition. Thus, our euthanasia is actually lower than 6 percent.

See our statistics page on our website.

The kind animal lovers of Whidbey (and beyond) not only built a shelter, they built a campus designed for enrichment. A large off-leash play yard allows opportunity to burn off energy for shelter dogs.

Six smaller play yards provide individual playtime, and make introductions to other dogs in a safe environment. Volunteers walk dogs in our dog-walking park with nearly six acres of wooded dog walking trails. This is much safer than taking them off campus. Supporters for the construction of the new shelter also had comfort in mind for dogs as the kennel wings have radiant heat flooring to use during the cold winter months. For cats there are community cat rooms, and the recent addition of catios (outdoor screened patios for cats to enjoy the sunshine). Cats each take a turn in the cat rooms to get some time to roam around outside their cages, both at night and during the day.

The author rightly points out that national best practices can sometimes be vague.

They are that way by design. Large urban animal shelters have different needs than small rural shelters. Shelters located in high resource areas have a different capability than those in low resource places. The best way to know if a shelter is using best practices is to look at their outcomes.

Some of WAIF’s include:

A 94 percent Live Release Rate.

A return to owner rate of 83 percent for lost dogs (compared to 22 percent nationwide) and 14 percent for lost cats (compared to 2 percent nationwide).

Returned adoptions rate of 2 percent (indicating a good matching process)

One of only two shelters in the state of Washington listed as a “Saving 90 Community” by the national No-kill Advocacy Center.

Charles Vreeland, MPA

Executive Director, WAIF

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