RASKC commends the Auburn Valley Humane Society (AVHS), an independent non-profit community education and adoption center where lives are changed… four paws at a time. AVHS serves not only Auburn residents, it helps foster a regional network of communication and collaboration among neighboring shelters, rescue groups, and shelter homes.

With nearly 50 employees and over 300 volunteers, AVHS maintains an animal shelter, a thrift store, and the Northwest Spay & Neuter Center.

RASKC recently interviewed Auburn Valley Humane Society’s President and Chief Executive Officer Phil Morgan.

Please tell us about the Auburn Valley Humane Society.

We are a healthy, thriving non-profit that had developed through slow, well planned growth. When I started, this organization had three employees and a board of directors. We are much larger now, yet we retain a very cohesive team. Because of the pandemic and the restrictions put on our industry, I feel we have done an outstanding job of pivoting to a business model that is based on social services, fee-for-services, and retail.

How do you feel about the merger between Auburn Valley Humane Society and the Northwest Spay and Neuter Center that took place earlier this year?

I feel great about the merger and the 22 excellent employees that we inherited. It feels terrific to offer these high-quality, low-cost essential services. We perform an average of more than 60 surgeries a day. For animal welfare, revenue, and community-outreach purposes, the merger has been a wonderful success.

How has COVID affected the Auburn Valley Humane Society?

In the past, we typically cared for 1,200- 1,500 animals per year. During COVID our animal intake was about half of that. We have been very COVID-cognizant and provided all of the protections we could for volunteers and staff. Interestingly enough, our best year ever in fundraising was last year- during COVID.

COVID provided the opportunity for Auburn Valley Humane Society to partner with RASKC and a few other key shelters to offer the mobile pet-food banks in 2019- 2020. This coalition work provided much needed pet food and other supplies to a great number of people facing economic hardship throughout King County.

How do you feel about volunteers at your organization?

We really missed our volunteers during COVID. Volunteers’ passion can be so exciting. Talking with them really energizes my day. I personally lead every session of new volunteer orientation, and I miss not being able to do this over the past year. Our work can be exhausting, but engaging with bright-eyed volunteers always revitalizes me. 

What are some of your organization’s achievements that you’re most proud of?

In addition to the merger, the great teamwork and dedication among our staff and volunteers, and the coalition’s mobile pet-food banks during COVID, I’d like to highlight our thrift store and our participation in the national Home to Home program.

Our thrift store provides funding to help the lost and homeless animals and other important human services programs at our shelter. Last year the store raised over $255,000 and is anticipated to raise over $350,000 this year! For more information, click here.

Home to Home gives people who can no longer keep their pets the opportunity to find a new loving home without having to drop off their pet at the shelter. Pets go directly from one home into another without incurring any costs or shelter-related stress. Click here for more information.

If you would, please describe your vision for the Auburn Valley Humane Society.

We strive to be a model of excellence in the advancement of animal welfare. We demonstrate this daily by offering high quality, affordable surgical services, and compassionate service for the community seeking to add a pet to their family.

Personally, I would love for the Auburn Valley Humane Society to serve as a campus where people can prepare for pet-oriented careers in a workforce development model. Too often my organization and other local shelters encounter a shortage of Licensed Veterinary Technicians and Animal Care Technicians. And even more than that, I would love for AVHS to be a greater springboard to develop and deepen the bond between humans and animals.

What else would you like to mention?

I’d like to encourage everyone to help us save more lives by signing up for our Barkfest and Rover Romp, taking place from August 21- 28. We offer both online and in-person activities, including demonstrations, a specialty vendor village, entertainment, contest, and raffles. For more information, click here.