You need only to note the proliferation of veterinarians, pet stores, obedience training classes and kennels in the area to conclude that people here are fond of their four-legged pals.
Among the many services in Woodinville dedicated towards animals, specifically dogs and cats, is Homeward Pet, a nonprofit, no-kill shelter.
Founded in 1990 under the name Hooterville Pet Safehaus, the facility is dedicated to giving homeless animals a second chance through its rescue, shelter and adoption programs.
Each year, it helps over 1,400 cats and dogs find loving homes.
"About 60 percent of the animals we get come from overcrowded shelters that euthanize," explains Terri Inglis, Homeward Pet’s executive director. "The other 40 percent are owner surrenders, from people who can no longer care for their pets."
Inglis notes that due to the challenging economy, more pets are being surrendered by their owners because people have lost their homes and don’t have the space or finances to keep their animals.
"It’s a hard situation and very sad when this happens," she says, "but we’d rather they come to us for help than simply abandon their animals. They know they will be safe and cared for here and every effort will be made to find them a new and loving home."
In addition to the rescue and adoption work the facility does, it is also involved in rehabilitation.
While at Homeward Pet, any dogs and cats that have behavioral issues are retrained and rehabilitated to become better companions in their new homes. "We don’t give up on an animal," emphasizes Inglis. "Our job is to find a resolution to any issues they might have. And once they are adopted, we continue to make ourselves available to help with behavioral consultations, positive reinforcement dog training classes and other advice a new owner may need."
The community might not know that Homeward Pet also has a medical and spay/neuter clinic on site and each of the animals that comes through its doors is spayed/neutered if needed.
It’s part of the facility’s program to educate the public about the benefits of this service in hopes of preventing more animals from ending up in shelters around the country.
Additional services provided include reduced cost vaccinations and micro chipping.
"Micro chipping is really important," says Inglis. "It is a way to register your pet. And if it gets lost and someone finds it, it can be traced back to its owner."
For some time now, Homeward Pet has wanted to increase the number of animals it takes in, but due to limited space, it hasn’t been able to make this goal a reality.
Come fall, however, it will move into a new building located behind Pony Express in Woodinville.
"We’re really excited," comments Inglis. "The new space is about 11,000-square-feet, which more than doubles our current space. That means we can easily take up to 50 cats and 35 dogs. Also, we’ll be able to add a day to our spay/neuter clinic. And then we’re going to open a pet food bank to help low income pet owners."
Inglis wants the community to be aware of the choices they have when it comes to their pets.
She stresses the importance of looking at a shelter instead of a breeder or pet store when it comes to selecting an animal.
She says, "Don’t shop. Adopt."
As a nonprofit, Homeward Pet is fully dependent on contributions and donations from individuals as well as corporations.
It also could not survive without the help of a cadre of dedicated volunteers who generously give their time and efforts to improving the quality of life for the homeless pets that are sheltered at the facility every year.
"Volunteers are our backbone," adds Inglis, "and we wouldn’t be able to exist without them."
In an effort to give back, Homeward Pet supports high school requirements for community service, provides information and tips on animal safety and care to the public and makes its services and animal trainers available to members of the community.
"We serve an important role in the community," comments Inglis. "We help to be the voice for animals. They don’t have a say in what happens to them. So we speak for them." She adds, "And when we find them new homes, it’s a win-win situation for both animals and people."
For more information about Homeward Pet: www.homewardpet.org or (425) 488-4444.