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For the Love of Pets

Animal Shelter Sees Success of Programs

Decreases in Pet Overpopulation Allow for More Community Outreach

Nov 6, 2012 - 10:30 AM
Animal Shelter Sees Success of Programs

Now celebrating its 30th year of operation, The Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley (ASWRV)in Hailey is starting to reap the rewards of its programs, including the No-Cost Community Spay/Neuter Clinics and Paws for Hunger pet food bank.  The Shelter used to be plagued by the same issues of dog and cat overpopulation that many other shelters across the country continue to struggle with. The Shelter is now leveraging this success to increase its community impact and expand its outreach to under-served populations.

No-Cost Community Spay/Neuter Clinics

As the first animal shelter in the State of Idaho to adopt a “no-kill” policy, instead of the mass euthanasia of otherwise adoptable animals, which is common elsewhere, the ASWRV decided to focus on prevention.  Six years ago the Shelter hired a veterinarian and began offering free spay/neuter services for any Blaine County residents, in addition to the policy of spaying and neutering 100% of animals adopted through the shelter. The Shelter now alters an average of 650 dogs and cats annually.

Staff and volunteers working on World Spay Day 2012.As a result of their spay/neuter policy, community education and outreach programs, the Shelter is now seeing marked decreases in problems related to local pet overpopulation. While there are still plenty of adoptable dogs and cats in the Shelter waiting for their forever homes, Shelter staff is now able to focus on training, enrichment and other activities—rather than struggling with overcrowding—that improve the lives of the animals in their care and make them more adoptable. According to Executive Director Dr. Jo-Anne Dixon, “While we still see seasonal influxes of kittens and puppies, we are now able to absorb them into our regular population, quickly get them vaccinated, altered and adopted out into the community, resulting in a much better quality of life for all of our animals.”

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), “The only method of population control that has demonstrated long-term efficacy in significantly reducing the number of animals entering animal shelters is the voluntary sterilization of owned pets.” They also identify accessibility of services and cost as two of the primary barriers to people spaying and neutering their pets. The Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley has removed these barriers in their community through their free clinics.

Paws for Hunger

In addition to the spay/neuter programs it offers, the Shelter also partners with the Blaine County Hunger Coalition to offer a pet food bank, Paws for Hunger.  This partnership helps ensure that during times of financial crisis, people don’t have to choose between feeding their family and feeding their pets. Formed during the recent economic downturn, Paws for Hunger has been instrumental in preventing a large influx of surrendered and abandoned animals coming to the Shelter from otherwise loving homes that can no longer afford to feed them. Since it began in April 2009, over 25,000 pounds of dog and cat food have been distributed to pets in need, helping an average of 45 families per month keep their beloved animals.

Adoptable kittens--one of the litters we recently got in the Shelter.Paws for Hunger is the newest Shelter program and has expanded their outreach to under-served populations in Blaine County.  In August, the Shelter staff organized an event at the Balmoral apartment complex in Hailey, offering free rabies shots, collars and identification tags to over 35 families and their pets. Of the families who received services, many did not know about the Shelter’s free spay/neuter clinics and were able to sign up that day to get their pets altered. By expanding outreach programs like this, the Shelter is hoping to make even more progress in the fight against pet overpopulation, preventing animal homelessness at its source.

The success the Shelter has seen in preventing overcrowding in their facility enables them to focus on the health and well-being of their animals, in addition to their various community programs.  These programs include weekly animal visits to the Senior Center, providing valuable companionship to the elderly, Hikin’ Buddies and Town Walks, giving the dogs socialization opportunities with potential adopters.  Dr. Dixon said, “We are proud to offer quality services that clearly make an impact on our community and its animal population, not just helping the animals, but increasing the quality of life for all of us by connecting people and animals in transformative ways.”

If you are a Blaine County resident and have a dog or cat this is not yet spayed or neutered, please call the Animal Shelter at 208-788-4351 to sign up for the Community No-Cost Spay/Neuter Clinic today.

Executive/Medical Director Dr. Jo-Anne Dixon during a spay/neuter clinic.  In 2011 alone, more than 1200 animals received vital services from the Shelter. This includes 390 animal adoptions, 259 lost animals reunited with their owners, 332 Blaine County pets spayed or neutered at our no-cost Spay/Neuter Clinic and over 10,600 pounds of food distributed through our Paws for Hunger partnership with The Hunger Coalition. 

Now celebrating its 30th year of operation, the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley is funded almost entirely by private donations and grants.For more information call the number listed above or visit their website at


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