RASKC commends the Kitsap Humane Society, one of the leading animal-welfare organizations in the Pacific Northwest. This organization, which started in 1908, has achieved a rate of 96% (or better) of lives saved for the last seven years. Their impressive save rate places the Kitsap Humane Society in the top tier of large open-admission animal shelters in the United States, exceeding the 90% “gold standard” nationally recognized in animal welfare.

Located in Silverdale, Washington, KHS serves Kitsap County and beyond as more than a shelter. They rescue, rehabilitate, and find loving homes for thousands of animals every year. To do this, KHS is committed to excellence in all of their services and an open admissions policy – meaning they don’t turn animals in need away.

Kitsap Humane Society is an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, committed to providing positive life-changing solutions to people and animals in need. They do so by:

  • Accepting, sheltering, and rehabilitating companion animals in need
  • Providing humane rescue, protection, prevention, adoption, and education services
  • Implementing progressive life-saving and life-affirming programs
  • Collaborating and partnering with our region and supporters to build a model humane community.

RASKC recently interviewed KHS Marketing Director Victoria Gingrey.

Please tell us more about the Kitsap Humane Society.

Today, thanks to generous community support, a broad volunteer and foster base, and a strong team of about 60 staff members, KHS continues to transform animal welfare in Kitsap County and beyond by saving thousands of animals, including dogs and cats, small animals, and occasional livestock through compassionate, individualized, lifesaving care.

In 2021, we rehomed 3,869 pets and transferred in 1,103 animals from high-volume and overcrowded shelters and rescues.

Committed to serving pets and the people who love them, KHS offers dedicated programs and services such as reuniting lost pets and their families, adoptions, Animal Control, behavioral and owned pet support, our Community Cat program, a robust transfer program, community low-cost spay/neuter surgeries, and vaccine/microchip clinics, as well as pet licensing and end-of-life services. Our Pet Food Pantry provides hundreds of pounds of free food and pet supplies to pet owners in Kitsap and Mason counties. Our Pet Protection Program provides temporary housing during times of crisis for cats in need.

The Kitsap Humane Society has re-visited and adjusted our organizational values to reflect what our staff believe in and feel strongly about. So we added Juneteenth as a recognized shelter holiday, where the shelter is closed for staff members to reflect on our country’s history and the work we have yet still to do to address systemic racism.

We’ve also contracted with Executive Diversity Services to lead our organization through DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) exercises and organizational development, so we can ensure we’re doing all we can to ensure our values are aligning with our actions.

What values are important to the Kitsap Humane Society?

Our Organizational Values:

  • Excellence in Animal Welfare: We are committed to employing best practices in the animal welfare field. We are always searching for new ideas and strategies to further improve the quality of care for animals, to help our community save more animals’ lives, and to serve pet owners in need.
  • Outstanding Customer Service: We are committed to a strong ethic of timely, reliable service to our community members and customers. We strive to create an environment in which all customers and stakeholders feel heard, safe, respected, and supported; we aim to address customer concerns promptly, respectfully, and professionally.
  • Compassion: We bring compassion to all of our work, from the respect and care we provide each individual animal to the kindness and consideration with which we treat our colleagues, customers, and community.
  • Integrity: We operate with transparency. We are honest and open in our dealings with staff, Board, volunteers, donors, and the general public. We fulfill commitments and responsibilities.
  • Teamwork: We foster an environment of teamwork between all staff, volunteers, Board members, and stakeholders, with an emphasis on respect, accountability, and open communication, in order to most effectively achieve our goals and address new challenges as they arise.
  • Collaboration: We are dedicated to partnering with all facets of the community, including businesses, local governments, and other animal shelters and animal welfare organizations.
  • Financial Stewardship: We are committed to strong stewardship of the organization’s resources by budgeting carefully, operating within our means, and taking steps to ensure both immediate and long-term sustainability of the organization and its mission.
  • Inclusion: We are dedicated to fostering a diverse and inclusive animal welfare campus and culture that strives to remove accessibility barriers for our community, celebrates our differences and similarities, and encourages open collaboration and communication, and respect for all.

What kind of help would the Kitsap Humane Society most like from the public?

  • Right now, we are specifically in need of foster volunteers and dog walking volunteers! Interested folks can start orientation right from our website: kitsap-humane.org/get-involved
  • And we are always appreciative of donations – financial, items, time, or otherwise – and a full list of ways to support us can also be found on our website: kitsap-humane.org/support-us

What is KHS’s vision for the future?

Our vision is one where every adoptable, companion animal has a loving home. And having gone through COVID and its effects, this vision also includes keeping pets with their people, whenever possible. This vision will be made even more achievable with our planned Veterinary Lifesaving Center, which is set to open in 2023 and will include a public-facing clinic for low-income pet owners.

How has COVID affected the Kitsap Humane Society?

Like everywhere else in 2020, the harsh realities of COVID-19 set us back on our heels. Facing curtailed services, uncertainty, and revenue loss, we made the painful choice in March to lay off half of our staff. But our animal loving community understood the importance of our work and supported us during this crisis because it really mattered.

Following local and state COVID-19 guidance, we remained open safely in all of 2020 and 2021. By fall 2020, our intake and adoption of animals rose to 75% of normal. And sustaining our “lives saved rate” of 96% for the sixth year in a row was a testimony to the dedication of our staff and volunteers and the quality of their lifesaving work.

In June 2020, we completed renovations in our old shelter facility and opened the Heidi Harnett-Wakefield Memorial Behavior & Training Center in honor of a former, beloved volunteer leader who had dedicated her years at KHS to working with the most challenging and distressed dogs.

In 2022, we are set to build a new Veterinary Lifesaving Center with expanded veterinary support services for pets from low-income families. We want to keep pets in their loving homes whenever possible.

Are there any “fun facts” that you might like to share?

Our Animal Control was called out for an escaped emu a few months ago. The emu, from Port Orchard, had run into the woods by the time Animal Control arrived. We were all disappointed an emu didn’t come in as a stray.

One of our dog alumni, Otis, was featured on the nationally televised American Rescue Dog Show in 2020.