About Willamette Humane Society

From Humble Beginnings with Heart

imageWhoever coined the phrase “where there’s a will, there’s a way,” obviously knew something about the power of human determination… and perhaps also knew Jessie B. Mickelson, Eleanor Gordon‐Thompson and Jeanne Beardsley.

These “founding mothers” of the Willamette Humane Society drew inspiration from the rundown, undersized and outdated shelter facility which were the Marion County Dog Pound in 1965. They had the heart and the will to organize a group in Salem for the purpose of protecting and promoting the welfare of animals.

After extensive fundraising efforts, the 11‐member fledgling organization finally raised enough funds in 1969 to begin construction of a modest facility containing only 20 dog, and 25 cat kennels. The shelter was open for business less than five months later on the grounds just north of the current shelter.

The facility took in an average of 1,500 animals every month within the first year of operation. In July of 1972, phase two of the construction began, doubling the capacity and adding dog runs as well as separate puppy and kitten rooms.

Fast‐forward to 2012. Today’s modern facility is aesthetically appealing. A vaulted lobby ceiling, state‐of‐the‐art spay/neuter clinic, spacious grounds  and warm atmosphere work together to create a welcoming environment for prospective owners to visit their potential new family members.

Today’s Humane Society is a far cry from its 60’s‐era counterpart. At a spacious 22,000 square feet, with 7 acres of dog runs, a recreation area and housing 65 dog and 142 cat kennels, in addition to ample parking for visitors; today’s facility has come a long way.

But in the nearly 50 years since the original idea for a shelter for the Willamette Valley’s pets in need was born, one thing has remained the same. It is the strength, the support, the will power and the drive of our members, staff, volunteers, and community leaders that give us the one thing that endures… heart.

And as long as the heart beats strong for our animals, the Willamette Humane Society will be here protecting and promoting their welfare. 


About Willamette Humane Society

The Willamette Humane Society (WHS) was founded in 1965 by local civic leaders and serves Marion and Polk counties.
Dedicated to providing compassionate services to pets and people, WHS exists to:

  • Assist pets and people in transition
  • Complete families through adoption
  • Reduce pet overpopulation
  • Teach responsible pet care
  • Alleviate pet suffering

Willamette Humane Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization that relies on donor support and service fees in addition to the Willamette Humane Society Thrift Store,and Davenport’s Denpet supply/gift store located inside the shelter.

Watch videos about Willamette Humane Society:
Dog Programs at WHS
WHS Video Brochure