By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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Executive Director Mary Beth Wegener told about 60 members of the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce that local businesses and individuals have donated about $600,000 toward building a new dog kennel and adoption facility on the Humane Society's new property at 1743 Old Olympic Highway between Port Angeles and Sequim.
The sum is enough that the organization is ready to take a leap of faith that the remainder will be raised in time for final bills to come due, Wegener said.
The 4,800 square-foot kennel and other property improvements should be complete and shelter operations moved to the new location in about a year, she said.
The 9.5-acre property includes three modular houses that will be converted into space for administration, veterinary services, a cat kennel, a pole barn that may be used for training classes, fields for farm animals and wooded trails for the dogs.
Kennel plans include indoor-outdoor kennels and large play rooms where those interested in adopting dogs can meet the dogs away from the kennel, Wegener said.
“It will be a cleaner, healthier, happier environment for our dogs, our staff and for our visitors,” she said.
She said the society has completely paid off the $325,000 purchase of the property, and has plans for Phase 2, which would add a permanent cat kennel building similar to the dog kennels.
“Any funds we raise above after the first phase is finished will be used for Phase 2,” she said.
The current 2,900-square-foot animal shelter at 2105 U.S. Highway 101 west of Port Angeles is antiquated and too small, with no room for expansion because of the property's steep hillside location.
The property will be put up for sale as soon as the new property is ready, and proceeds from that sale will be invested into the new shelter, Wegener said.
As Wegener spoke, Buddy the Ambassadog worked the room for donations, moving from member to member collecting $1, $5, $10 and $20 bills in his collar.
Buddy, a mixed-breed dog whose appearance gives little clue to his heritage, has recently undergone a DNA test that revealed that he his half rottweiler, and half shar pei, Wegener said.
Having been left at the shelter four times before finding his forever home with Wegener, Buddy is the perfect “ambassadog,” she said.
Buddy first arrived at the shelter as an unwanted puppy, then was repeatedly adopted and returned.
The second time at the shelter, his owners said they could no longer afford to care for him; the third time it was for the destruction of a couch; and the fourth time it was because his owners were moving and could not take him with them, Wegener said.
Those are four of the most common reasons for people to surrender a pet, she said.
Wegener said the Humane Society is a low-kill shelter, with a save rate of 93 percent in 2013.
The only animals that are killed are those which are too sick or injured to save, or those that represent a danger to staff or the public, she said.
The Human Society is holding a “Meowgaritas & Mutts” benefit dinner and auction at the Vern Burton Community Center, 304 E. Fourth St. in Port Angeles, on Saturday, April 26.
Tickets are $50.
The event begins with cocktails and a silent auction at 5:30 p.m., with dinner and a live auction at 6:30 p.m.
To buy tickets, make a “Dig Deep” building fund contribution, volunteer or for more information, visit www.ophumanesociety.org or phone 360-457-8206.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.