Siamese kittens awaiting adoption at Willamette Humane Society (Courtesy photo)

For 16 months, Covid forced the Willamette Humane Society to eliminate in-person visits, halt volunteer programs, cancel events and require that some staff work from home.

Spay and neuter surgeries were suspended because personal protective equipment was unavailable.

Now with the recent lifting of statewide pandemic restrictions, activities at the shelter are gradually returning to normal.

“In March 2020, we had to figure out how to stay connected even while apart,” said BJ Andersen, the humane society’s executive director. “I’m so thankful for everyone that worked so hard to make that possible.”

Even with the limitations, nearly 2,000 cats and 340 dogs were adopted, she said.

During the down time, Andersen said members of the community realized the difficult situation and stepped up to support the humane society.

“Families responded by leaving supplies at the door, signing up for monthly giving and by buying necessities from our Amazon wish lists,” she said.

For the time being, visits to the shelter continue to be by appointment only, however a phased-in return opening is scheduled for later this month. Dates will be announced.

A recent $75,000 grant from PetSmart Charities is helping dogs and cats get ready for introduction to potential adopters. Funds are used to pay for neutering surgeries, updating vaccines and inserting microchips.

Those hoping to adopt dogs and cats can see and handle them without an appointment at Meow Town, the humane society’s off-site adoption center at PetSmart, 2925 Lancaster Drive N.E.

The humane society in conjunction with PetSmart Charities’ National Adoption Weekend will hold a special event from Monday, July 19 through Sunday, July 25 when normal Meow Town hours will be extended to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. 

“However the schedule could change if all of our pets are adopted so we may leave early, and conversely, if we have many adoptions happening near 6 p.m. we may need to leave a little later,” said Jean Dion, the humane society’s communication manager.

When the event concludes, regular hours will resume, which are 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Animals will be at PetSmart on most days.

Those who find a pet they want fill out an application, pay an adoption fee and then they can take their animal home.

As activities at the shelter resume, more volunteers are needed to help out. A recruitment campaign for new volunteers will be scheduled for later this summer.

Volunteers walk dogs, care for cats and generally assist around the shelter.

The humane society is asking for more foster families to take care of some animals before they can be adopted. Dogs and cats must get older, recover from injuries or illness or receive special behavioral training.

Information about the Willamette Humane Society and its programs can be found at the shelter’s website: and on Facebook and Instagram.

To reach the humane society at 4246 Turner Road S.E., call 503-585-5900.

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