Our Past, Present & Future

Seattle Humane has survived and thrived for over 125 years, always leading with compassion as we care for pets and the people who love them.

Our work will continue to strengthen the human-animal bond as we look ahead to our future of saving lives, completing families and keeping pets in loving homes.

Learn more about us.

Humble Beginnings

For those of you who may not remember, 1897 was a banner year: Thomas Edison patented the kinetoscope; runners participated in the first Boston Marathon; reports of Mark Twain’s death proved to be greatly exaggerated; and the first successful prospector arrived in Seattle, setting off the Klondike Gold Rush.    

As more and more people began to flood into our growing port town, someone needed to be thinking about the animals – this is where Seattle Humane’s story starts.   

We had a humble beginning, advocating for animals in stockyards and slaughterhouses, and later as the sole animal control agency for King County, up until the 1970s.   


Seattle Humane promotes the human-animal bond by saving and serving pets in need, regardless of age, ability, circumstance or geography.

A New Campus

The organization adapted over the years to the changing needs of the community and evolving landscape of animal welfare. In early 2010, Seattle Humane set about raising the funds to transform the humble, scattered buildings on its wooded property into a world-class animal care facility. The goal was to serve more pets and their people with enhanced and added services. 

With the board and staff aligned, all efforts were focused on building a new shelter and teaching hospital. The board of directors, with the generous support of the donor and volunteer community, embarked on a major campaign to bring the vision to life. The new campus was opened in fall 2017, after much sweat and commitment.  

Seattle Humane’s old shelter, its home since the 1970s, is emptied of both pets and people for the official move into its new facility on August 15, 2017. Construction for the new building took nearly two years. Image: Sunita Martini / Seattle Refined

Seattle Humane Today

Today, Seattle Humane operates a state-of-the-art animal shelter and veterinary medicine facility that serves thousands of adoptable and community pets annually. Our team of experts provide every animal that comes through our doors with the highest quality of care, and all pets and their people with the respect and compassion they deserve.   

Since opening our new facility in 2017, we have increased our capacity and expanded our support and resources for pet owners to complement the adoption services that will always be our foundation. As the needs within animal welfare continue to evolve, we are reimagining our campus to put our resources to their greatest and best use in order to improve care for pets and the community we serve.   

Seattle Humane is best known for adoptions and we have long measured success solely based on the number of animals saved and adopted. As we continue to add extensive community services, we are now including and celebrating the many ways we keep pets in loving homes and out of the shelter entirely when measuring success.    

The community we serve powers Seattle Humane, with nearly 80 percent of our revenue coming from grassroots donations and planned gifts. These funds don’t just support lifesaving transfers and our work inside the shelter – we are channeling resources back into the community every year through services and programs like our Pet Food Bank, Pet Owner Assistance Fund, SPOT temporary foster and Community Medicine that support pets and the people who love them.

In 2022, Seattle Humane celebrated 125 years of saving lives and completing families.

We were deeply honored that the City of Seattle and the City of Bellevue both officially proclaimed September 14, the date of our founding in 1897, to be Seattle Humane Day.

The Next Chapter

Seattle Humane has a rich past, and an even brighter future. We have spent more than 125 years evolving to meet the greatest needs of the community we serve and adapting to animal welfare best practices. Our Vision 2026 paints a clear picture of where we see ourselves over the next several years and beyond.  

With this vision, we imagine a community of animal lovers, supporters and professionals, united in working together to create a system able to deliver equitable access to compassionate care for companion animals and families from all walks of life.  

In this world, experiencing the love of a pet is a right and not a privilege. In this world, everyone can enjoy the human-animal bond with a mission centered on saving lives, completing families and keeping pets with the people who love them. 

Our vision is focused on five key priorities:

  • Providing affordable veterinary care 
  • Improving the supply & access to adoptable pets 
  • Serving as a regional pet resource center 
  • Advocating for Pets and People 
  • Investing in Our People

We developed Seattle Humane’s Storyline in 2021 to guide us on this journey.

For the next chapter in our success, we will rely on the strength of our mission, the quality of our staff, the dedication of our leadership team, the commitment of our volunteers and the generosity of our donors. Together, we will write the next chapter of Seattle Humane’s story.   

“Animals make us human.”