Seattle Humane is relentless in our commitment to the well-being of animals. We are disappointed in the recent Seattle Times article, which misrepresents Seattle Humane’s lifesaving work. We have several key points we would like to correct and clarify.
The article falsely accuses Seattle Humane of abusing donor trust. Our capital campaign from nearly a decade ago outlined adoption goals that have since been adjusted based on the evolving needs of the community and the landscape of animal welfare. This expanded focus is clearly communicated and explained in our 2021 five-year strategic vision and has been embraced by our board, donors and the community we support. We are proud to be good stewards of donor dollars, with $0.80 of every dollar raised directly supporting the animals in our care. Seattle Humane also has the highest rating on Charity Navigator and GuideStar, who evaluate the performance of charities nationally and globally.
Donations allow us to fulfill our mission to promote the human-animal bond and save and serve pets in need. Throughout the challenges of recent years, and by adapting to changes in animal welfare, we have continued to do just that, all while maintaining an extremely high save rate. In fact, our save rate, as pointed out by the Seattle Times, is currently more than 99 percent, which is one of the best in the country and far higher than the national average of 68 percent.
The data the Seattle Times article references regarding intakes and adoptions does not reflect our positive impact on the community and the breadth of the services we are now offering to serve pets. We recognize that success cannot be measured just by the number of adoptions, but also by the lives we save in our veterinary medical center and the pets we help keep happy and healthy at home. The COVID-19 pandemic hit just as we were launching a number of new community programs focused on keeping pets with the people who love them. The very clear need for these resources strengthened our resolve that this was where we needed to focus our energy – keeping pets out of the shelter system entirely.
Some examples of the impact of our many programs – details we provided to the Seattle Times – include:
- Our Pet Food Bank provides nearly a million meals each year to pets in the community.
- Surrenders and returns were reduced by 62% from 2018 to 2020 by offering resources through our Pet Resource Center to support pet owners in need.
- Through our Home To Home program alone, 855 pets were placed directly into new homes since the program began in early 2020. Those adoptions are not included in the figures quoted by the Seattle Times. This rehoming program lets pet owners choose the right fit for their pets, and avoids sheltering and adoption fees.
- Our Lifesaver Rescue program gave more than 13,000 at-risk animals another chance through transfer and transport services from 2018 through September 2021.
- Over a thousand wellness exams have been performed through our new Community Medicine program since October 2020, offering low- or no-cost pet wellness care, vaccines and microchips, supporting families that might not otherwise have access to veterinary medicine.
- Our Pet Owner Assistance Fund, which offers financial support to keep pets in loving homes, has helped nearly 500 families since its inception in July 2020.
- Our SPOT (Supporting Pet Owners in Transition) temporary foster program launched in September 2020 and has supported 62 participants to-date.
The article also inappropriately implies Seattle Humane’s costs are out of sync with other regional animal shelters. Our shelter partners agree that there is no uniformity in how costs are factored among shelters and this comparison is inaccurate. We applaud our shelter partners for their amazing work, and there should be no competition in a lifesaving field such as ours – only collaboration and support to lift the entire animal welfare community up together and create the best possible world for the pets in our collective care.
In respect to the accusation of mismanagement and a troubling working environment several years ago, we acknowledge we have faced our share of challenges and growing pains. But as CEO Christopher Ross shared with the Seattle Times, “That’s not who we are anymore,” and Seattle Humane currently has the lowest level of turnover the organization has experienced in many years. It’s undeniable and unfortunate there was a lack of leadership at the CEO level until 2019 and this negatively affected the entire organization. An Interim CEO joined Seattle Humane following the resignation of our CEO in 2019 and focused on stabilizing the organization and addressing morale and burnout. Effective new processes, channels for communication and staff supports were implemented, and that work continues today.
We are disappointed the Seattle Times did not accurately report on the facts and data after we coordinated with the publication in good faith for the past nine months, responding to numerous requests for information and providing access to the shelter and top executives.
Under the new leadership of CEO Christopher Ross, and with the support and guidance of our Board of Directors, Seattle Humane is working diligently to understand, address and fix issues that arise so they are not repeated. We are incredibly proud and hopeful about Seattle Humane’s promising future, as we build upon our foundation as a needed and important community partner. We thank our community, generous donors, volunteers and employees for their support and shared commitment to our vision.
“Our community and animals know our true and relentless commitment. We are proud of our staff and the impact we make every single day and look forward to the next 125 years serving all who need us.” – Christopher Ross, CEO Seattle Humane