Mountain Humane History

In 1972, a small group of compassionate animal advocates came together to help the lost and abandoned animals in the Wood River Valley.  For ten years, they functioned as the Animal Hospice, a pet placement network, individuals fostering lost or abandoned pets and caring for their many needs, while looking for new homes. Ten years later, the Animal Hospice became the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley when the dream of building a shelter was realized.

The Animal Shelter of Wood River Valley opened its doors in May of 1982. The five acres of land the facilities occupy was a gift from a local benefactor. Many fundraising benefits, private donations, volunteer laborers and initial funding given by the Blaine County Government in exchange for services of collecting fines and license fees, contributed to the construction of the original facility.

The Animal Shelter of Wood River Valley is a private, non-profit 501 C-3 corporation. The Shelter is governed by a Board of Directors and operated under the leadership of its Executive Director. The management team, animal care providers and dedicated volunteers collectively work to care for the animals and administer the shelter’s many programs and services.

The original facility, which still stands, includes a small office, cattery, and a dog kennel room. In the years that followed, the building was expanded to include a dog impound room, an isolation room and surgical/ medical suite. Outdoor playpens, another dog kennel building, pet acquaintance center, large outdoor kennels, and a dog agility/ training area were eventually added to expand operations.

The Barkin’ Basement, our thrift store subsidiary on Main Street in downtown Hailey, opened its doors in April of 1994. The store provides the shelter a source of outside financing, a presence in downtown Hailey, and an offsite cat adoption center. The thrift store facility is rented space, not a shelter property. The store has a small core group of management and employees, and offers tax deductions for all donations. Volunteer help is crucial to the store’s daily operation.

In May of 1999, the 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, by a handful of forward thinking community leaders, launched the Shelter onto a new path of becoming a leader in model shelter programs and services, because a no-kill shelter is not sustainable without having multiple resources for finding new homes for the animals.

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 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.

Along the way, the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley has become so much more than a shelter. In yet another ambitious move, the Board of Directors decided in fall of 2017 to commit to making the entire state of Idaho no-kill by 2025. It’s an ambitious goal, but between building a new animal welfare campus, forming a statewide coalition of shelters, and providing access to services to underserved populations in our region, we are already making tremendous strides to a more compassionate state.

We realized that to create a truly humane community, we need to work with the pet owners, not just the pets. Our programs now reach far beyond the confines of the Wood River Valley and our organization is now a leader in Idaho animal welfare. Just as we have long outgrown our current facility, we have now also outgrown our name. In July of 2018, the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley became Mountain Humane. Mountain Humane represents what makes our organization unique, highlights what is special about our rural, mountain location, and embodies our hopes going forward.

Shelter Timeline
Mountain Humane History

• "Animal Hospice" incorporated - this was the start of Mountain Humane's long journey to change the community for both people and pets! '72

• Rabies Inoculation Clinic, Auction to raise $ to build shelter (raised $5000) '77

1972 1977

Picture of old shelter!

• The Burt Family donated the land for the shelter to be built on. The organization raised $22,089 to build the new shelter between 1977-1982, $40,000 more was needed to make it happen.'82

1977 - 1982

• New Shelter facility opened on May 6, 1982
• First “Dog Days of August” benefit held in the Bellevue Polo Field (continued at least through 1988)
• Idaho Mountain Express puts “Pet of the Week” photo in the paper. Continues today. '82

• Built crematorium
• “Pet Therapy” program begins in partnership with the extended care facility at Blaine County Medical center, continues today as “Paws on Location” with Senior Connection and Safe Haven.'83

1982 - 1983

• Name change from “Animal Hospice” to Animal Shelter of Wood River Valley
• First Annual Paw 'n Pole Event. This event still runs annually every March. You can sign up for the next upcoming event here!
• First cat room built in the shelter '85

• First "Stay at Home" Fundraiser launched. This fundraiser runs every winter season and encourages supporters to spend an evening in with their pet and donate the money they would have spent out to Mountain Humane instead! '89

1985 - 1989

• The Barkin' Basement Thrift store opens in April to support the shelter. The Barkin' Basement collects donations (and offers free pick-ups of large furniture donations!) and sells them in the thrift store to raise funds for Mountain Humane. You can learn more about the Barkin' here! '94

• Staff and volunteers conduct the first rural spay/neuter clinic in rural towns around the valley. '96

1994 - 1996

• Humane Education programs & tours begin teaching children compassion & safe animal interactions. The Humane Education programs at Mountain Humane are constantly evolving and growing. You can learn more about the Humane Education programs and schedule a visit by going here. '97

• The Animal Shelter of Wood River Valley becomes the first no-kill shelter in the state. The benchmark to achieving no-kill is when a community saves at least 90 percent of the homeless animals it takes in.” The Animal Shelter meets this definition of no-kill and is proud to have a consistent annual save rate of between 96-98%, well above the 90% benchmark. You can learn more about what no-kill means and how Mountain Humane is leading the charge to make Idaho no-kill by 2025 here.'99

1997 - 1999

• New isolation room built from funds donated by Jean & William Burt in honor of their son Bobby Burt.
• Marmaduke Society Giving Circle begins - you can learn more about the Marmaduke Society here. '00

• Sun Valley Labs fundraiser spearheaded by Terry Tischer & Lyn Stallard helps build new outdoor kennels • Hikin' Buddies at Adam's Gulch begins. Hikin' Buddies is one of our most beloved programs where the public can take an adoptable dog for a walk at one of the iconic Ketchum trailheads! Learn more about Hikin' Buddies here.'02

2000 - 2002

2003 Breed Rescue Network established
2004 First Medical Supervisor hired (Nadia Novik)
2006 First Medical Director hired (Dr. Jo-Anne Dixon, DVM)
2007 First Executive Director hired (Dr. Jo-Anne Dixon, DVM)
2008 Agility Yard built'03 -


• No Cost Community Spay/Neuter Clinic for Blaine County pets starts. After just six years of running this program we've seen a 50% decrease in the number of stray pets being dropped off to us. Because our kennels aren't filled with local stray pets we have been able to take in more animals from other regional shelters who are completely full and have to face the reality of euthanaisa. Spaying/neutering your pet can truly save more lives! Read more about our spay/neuter clinic here.'06

2003 - 2008

2009 10,000th animal adopted from the shelter.
2010 Animal Advocates program, collaboration with the Advocates begins.
2014 Capital Campaign to build a new facility is launched.
2015 Awarded HSUS grant for 1st rural Pets For Life outreach program.
2016 Community Paws, Blaine County outreach program started.
2016 Founding members join the Idaho Shelter Coalition.'09 -


2017 Ground breaking ceremony for new animal adoption and humane education center.
2018 First Humane Educator hired
2018 Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley becomes Mountain Humane.
2019 The Grand Opening Celebration for the new Animal Adoption and Humane Education Center hosts over 1,000 community members!
'17 -


2009 - 2018