Contemporary Animal Sheltering
The traditional role of finding homes for homeless animals has expanded for animal shelters across the nation. Contemporary Animal Sheltering now includes programs and services to support both pets and their owners. This multi-pronged approach has become known as Community Outreach Services and facilitates the health, safety and well-being of pets and new owners in the shelter and beyond.
At Mountain Humane, we are all about second chances. Every day we work to create new possibilities for homeless animals in our community. We are proud to provide innovative and industry-leading services to not only enhance the lives of the animals while they are at the shelter, but to support every adoption so each animal can thrive in their new forever home.
In 1972, a small group of compassionate animal advocates came together to help the lost and abandoned animals in the Wood River Valley. They founded Animal Hospice, a pet placement network of individuals fostering lost or abandoned pets and caring for their needs while looking for new homes. They functioned out of their homes for ten years while securing the resources needed to build an actual shelter.
The Animal Shelter opened its doors in May 1982. The five acres of land the facilities occupied was a gift from The Burt Family in honor of their son. Initial funding received from Blaine County in exchange for the services of collecting license fees and fines combined with many fundraising benefits, private donations, and volunteer labor hours all contributed to the construction of the original facility.
The original Animal Shelter facility included a small office, a cattery, and a dog kennel room. In 1983, a crematorium was built behind the old shelter. In the years that followed, the main building was expanded to include a dog impound room, an isolation room, and a medical suite. Outdoor playpens, another dog kennel building, a pet acquaintance center, large outdoor kennels, and a dog agility center area were later added to expand operations.
The Barkin' Basement, Mountain Humane's thrift store on Main Street in downtown Hailey, opened its doors in April 1994. The store provides the organization with a valuable source of outside revenue and offers tax deductions for all merchandise donated. The store has a small core group of staff and volunteers who maintain the store's daily operation.
In May of 1999, the shelter's Board of Directors made the bold move to become the first animal shelter in the state of Idaho to operate as a no-kill facility, and that decision launched the shelter onto a new path. Model shelter programs and services were put in place to ensure that no adoptable animal would be euthanized for space or length of stay.
The addition of a medical suite and isolation room was completed in 2000 and set the stage for the shelter to begin employing medical professionals to run the shelter operations. In 2004, we hired a Licensed Veterinary Technician and, in 2006, a full-time Veterinarian who would serve as both our Medical Director and Executive Director. These resources gave the organization the tools and talent needed to provide basic medical care to the animals 24/7 and further expand our shelter programs and services.
We began offering free spay/neuter services in 2006 for any Blaine County resident's pet, in addition to the policy of spaying and neutering 100% of animals adopted through the shelter. As a result of the spay/ neuter program and community education and outreach programs, the shelter saw marked decreases in problems related to local pet overpopulation. By stabilizing the pet population, the shelter was able to focus on training, enrichment, and other activities that improve the lives of the animals in our care and make them more adoptable.
Adding a dog Agility Center in 2008 gave us a valuable space to train, exercise and evaluate the canine population in a safe environment. The space also served as our community dog training and obedience class area.
In 2009, the Paws for Hunger Program was established as a partnership with the Hunger Coalition. We recognized that if you can't feed your family, you likely can't feed your pet. If we could provide pet food to these families in need they would likely not need to abandon or surrender their animals.
In 2015, we added the Pets for Life program to our services. This program is founded and funded by the Humane Society of the United States, and Hailey was the first rural community in the nation chosen for a Pets for Life grant. Pets for Life extends the reach of animal services, resources, and information to underserved areas.
Along the journey, the Animal Shelter of Wood River Valley became so much more than a shelter; it became an animal welfare organization. Programs and the staff to administer them were added. It became apparent that the original ASWRV facility no longer met the organization's needs. The building limited the number of animals we could serve and the number of staff to care for them.
We held that little building together for many years with duct tape and zip ties. In 2015, the research began to build a new facility. A vision became a rendering and a Capital Campaign plan. A successful Capital Campaign made it possible to start construction on June 22, 2017.
In anticipation of replacing the old shelter with a new animal welfare campus, in July 2018, the Animal Shelter of Wood River Valley became Mountain Humane, and the new facility opened its doors in February 2019. The 27,000-square-foot shelter provided the tools to implement our many programs and services.
The new Mountain Humane campus greatly expanded our capacity for housing cats and dogs. The added space allows us to help other shelters at maximum capacity through our affiliation with the Idaho Shelter Coalition. Our Community Paws program helps our local valley residents learn about the many services available through Mountain Humane.
2019 was also a year of change and new beginnings for the Barkin' Basement now The Barkin’. Thanks to local benefactors’ vision and generosity the store was relocated to a new location on Main Street in Hailey. The old Hailey Hotel was renovated to house our thrift store on the first floor and employee housing on the second floor. Four apartments were built to provide Mountain Humane staff affordable housing.