“It is a strong belief of mine that every family that wants to create a loving home for a pet should be able to have a pet, and have access to care for that pet,” says Seattle Humane Board Member John Wenstrup. John’s journey into animal welfare didn’t start with Seattle Humane. It started just over two decades ago when his veterinarian wife, Alexis, received a grant to conduct a research project on pet overpopulation. “The project sparked something in both of us around animal welfare,” John says.
The high school sweethearts, who bonded over – you guessed it! – their love for animals, worked together on what would be hailed as one of the first major shelter surveys that explored shelter euthanasia rates, budgets and data management. John’s business savvy paired with Alexis’s veterinary expertise proved to be a powerful combination. The duo’s findings were published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science and the article, “Pet Overpopulation: Data and Measurement Issues in Shelters,” continues to be taught in veterinary schools.
John’s passion for pets led to his contributions to numerous humane society boards, including Oakland SPCA while he was studying business at Stanford University, and eventually Seattle Humane after he and his family relocated to the Puget Sound region in 2012. Upon joining the board, John got right to work on the organization’s capital campaign that brought our state-of-the-art campus to fruition in 2017, followed by the development of our five-year strategic vision in 2021.
As Seattle Humane puts its strategic vision into action, John is especially passionate about the organization’s expansion into new communities – from adoption to ensuring resources and veterinary care are accessible to pets across the Puget Sound region. Having grown up in a family experiencing financial challenges, choosing to provide care for major medical concerns for their pets was just that: a choice. “It always felt like an unfair tradeoff,” acknowledges John.
With expansion across the region to reach communities that have historically been excluded from animal welfare movements, John acknowledges that this will require strengthening partnerships with fellow animal welfare organizations and shelters, as well as veterinary groups. “We need to continue to work hand-in-glove with veterinary communities to advocate for pet ownership and support accessible pet care in Seattle and beyond.
Creating a physical presence in communities where there are opportunities to share the love and care we have for animals with others, it’s infectious,” says John, adding that educational outreach will help bring youth into the fold. “The joy of kids with pets knows no bounds.”
John notes that to bring the organization’s vision for the future to life, we’ll have to do things differently. “We’re at a point where the old model seems very quaint and easy compared to the choices we will need to make moving forward.”
Part of pushing past the norm that John is especially excited about is the potential to serve more pets and people by shifting the perception of pet ownership as a branch of human services. “Pets are part of life expansion and positive energy,” says John. “We need to view ourselves as an adjunct to human services.”
John acknowledges that the implementation of our strategic vision to serve more pets and people would not be possible without the staff members and volunteers of Seattle Humane.
“I am so inspired by the passion of the team at Seattle Humane and the tireless nature of their contributions,” says John. “As a board member, I am awed and inspired by the team’s dedication to the animals and the families that love them.”
It’s not just at Seattle Humane that John is an agent for change. In his senior leadership role at The Boston Consulting Group, John founded the firm’s Seattle Office and has led the company’s West Coast Technology Practice, Global Software Sector, and BCG Accelerate – a vital branch of the organization that helps companies that are on a mission to change the world or their industry in fundamental ways.
John also spends a large portion of his time working on civic topics pro bono. John helped design and launch Challenge Seattle, an organization that brings together CEOs of 17 of the biggest companies in Seattle to address topics vexing the region, including the cost of housing, racial equity, education and climate change.
Outside of work and his contributions to Seattle Humane and other philanthropic endeavors, John enjoys spending time outdoors (especially at Lake Kachess!) with Alexis, their two children and their dog Humphrey Bogart, an 8-year-old rottweiler/German shepherd mix who was adopted from Seattle Humane. The Wenstrup family also consists of senior cat, Rupert, and the newest addition: a kitten named Rambo.