whatcom humane society wins 'shelter of the month' award
For over 110 years, Whatcom Humane Society (WHS) in Bellingham, Washington has been sheltering abandoned animals, fighting animal cruelty and neglect, and working to build a caring, compassionate and humane community. This incredible organization believes that ALL animals, as sentient beings, have value beyond economic measurements and are entitled to legal, moral, and ethical consideration and protection. Is it any wonder then that WHS has been a staunch supporter of Animal Place's Food for Thought campaign? Or that they worked alongside us to produce our first campaign video to encourage shelter directors to adopt an animal friendly/plant based menu policy for their events?
Under the inspiring leadership of executive director, Laura Clark, Whatcom Humane Society is leading the pack with their progressive approaches to community issues and treatment of animals. Their vegetarian food policy has been in place since 2002 and was implemented after recognizing that as an open-admission facility, WHS cared for all kinds of animals, including those typically used for food production. We had the great fortune to speak with Laura about her views, as well as those of WHS, when it comes to all things edible.
Why do you feel food policies should be a priority for shelter directors, if they don't already have one in place?
"I feel strongly that anyone working in the animal welfare field should walk the walk and talk the talk. Having a vegetarian food policy in place for events sponsored and paid for by your organization makes so much sense on many levels. It allows you to educate your staff, volunteers and the public on issues surrounding animals used for food production and ensures that your agency is not financially supporting agri-businesses that may engage in cruel and inhumane practices."
Do you think more shelter directors and boards should be vocal about advocacy issues?
"I recognize that it can be hard for some agencies to be vocal on some animal welfare issues, but if you are working in the animal welfare field it is your moral responsibility to be a voice for the animals. Developing a vegetarian food policy allows agencies to be vocal, but in a way that is mission driven and should make perfect sense to anyone looking at the organization."
What do you think an animal friendly menu policy communicates to the public?
"In regards to the Whatcom Humane Society, our animal friendly menu policy communicates to the public that our agency is committed to our mission, which states that we advocate on behalf of animals, educate the community about them and provide care to any animal in need. It makes people stop and think - which is a great thing!"
What do you see as the benefits of a policy?
"All of the above - and, it's really fun to offer vegetarian food to folks who are not used to eating it and watching how surprised they can be when they realize how tasty it is. In the big picture, it's all about education. I've seen first hand so many WHS staffers, volunteers and donors who have made the transition from meat eater to vegetarian/veganism. The policy isn't asking everyone to do so, but the fact that we can use the policy to educate people on why we have it, allows the conversation to take place and people can then learn more about factory farming and other animal welfare issues.""
"We have a blast with our fundraising events and our vegetarian policy. Our annual Gala fundraiser is a auction and dinner and our largest annual fundraiser. We work with the chef at the venue to provide a tasty vegetarian dinner for our guests. This year we offered a super yummy dinner that included vegan butternut squash soup, a great salad and grilled portabella mushrooms over mashed potatoes, surrounded by roasted vegetables. Guests loved it!
We also require that outside vendors only offer vegetarian food at our events. For example, each year we have a dog walk/festival in a local park and vendors pay to set up booths to participate. We have several food vendors, who make a commitment to only serve vegetarian food. We have never had a food vendor complain about this policy - in fact, most get really excited about it. This past year, we had a veggie hot dog vendor, vegetarian mexican food vendor and more. They all did a booming business and attendees had a great time."
What does the future hold for Whatcom?
"Life is never dull at the Whatcom Humane Society. We recently moved into our new shelter facility - a 19,000 square foot facility on over 13 acres of land. It has been amazing and really beneficial to the domestic animals in our care. In addition to our shelter facility, we operate a farm facility that provides care for horses and other large livestock. Last year, we started providing wildlife rehabilitation services for injured and orphaned native wild animals. Our future plans include construction of a new wildlife rehabilitation center to better provide care for the wild animals in our community and increasing our community outreach and humane education programs for the two and four-legged members of our community."
Anything else you'd like to add?
"The Whatcom Humane Society is fortunate to have a dedicated group of professionals working on behalf of the animals in our community. Our staff and volunteer teams work tirelessly to provide care and services for over 5,000 domestic and native wild animals in need. We are extremely proud of our organization and thank our supporters and community partners for supporting our mission and the animals in our care."
Ella is a 4 year old Appaloosa mare standing at 14.1hh. She was seized by Whatcom Humane Society animal control officers in November, 2013 along with 10 other horses who were found living in filthy conditions without food, water or shelter. She came to WHS sickly and with a nursing foal but with proper food, deworming and grooming, Ella has filled out into a stunning young mare. Ella is a very relaxed, easy going horse willing to give anything a try. She has been saddled and bridled and willingly accepted both. She has a beautiful floating trot and steady canter. Ella has a slight club foot but she doesn't let that stop her from running around. She is a beautiful mover who will just need good, consistent farrier work. She has not shown any signs of lameness while in our care. If anyone is interested in Ella, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.