WAIF’s Lifesaving Philosophy

Founded in 1990, we realize that our longevity is due to the heart and soul of our organization–our donors and volunteers. Back in 1990, a small and passionate group saw the need for a community asset that reflected the islands desire to see the humane treatment of our companion animals. No longer could they watch as healthy and adoptable dogs and cats, both stray and unclaimed, be euthanized simply for lack of space or resources. This committed group knew there were other options readily available to provide homes for the islands displaced homeless pet population.

WAIF has become a leader in its humane treatment of dogs and cats. Beyond its mission of finding permanent, loving homes for the stray pet population, WAIF also helps people. Through our Pet Food Banks, Prevent-a-Litter Coupon Program and Crisis Care Assistance, we understand the importance and value of the human-animal bond. It is what drives our dedicated staff to find perfect matches between available shelter animals and prospective pet families. Sadly, our work is never done. However, we happily accept the challenges that face us on a daily basis. Each animal that comes to WAIF has a unique story. Though we can never fully ascertain what the background may be on an incoming animal, we use established shelter and animal welfare practices that allow us to evaluate an animal’s personality to ensure a fit within a permanent loving home.

Early on, WAIF decided to use the phrase “Minimum Kill” to best describe its life-saving approach to caring for homeless pets. The term “No-Kill” has been misunderstood and abused over the years to where it does not really inform the public on a shelter’s philosophy. Some shelters apply the term “No-Kill” only to their adoptable animals only (not all animals in their care), and have reduced “No-Kill” to a marketing phrase, with little meaning behind it. WAIF does not kill for space needs, nor time limits. Euthanasia will always be appropriate for untreatable medical conditions, or for vicious behavior, in order to reduce unnecessary suffering.

Is WAIF a no-kill shelter? Yes, by industry standards we meet the definition. WAIF has been designated as one of only two shelters in the state of Washington as being a “Saving 90 Community” by the national No Kill Advocacy Center. This means our Live Release Rate (as defined by Asilomar Accords*) is above 90%. (95% in 2015.) However, for transparency, we continue to use the phrase “minimum kill” because its an honest reflection of a responsible animal welfare organization that accepts all homeless animals into its network, regardless of circumstances. For owner surrenders, WAIF generally does not take into the shelter vicious animals nor animals that are considered not adoptable due to age or medical issues. We also do not take in feral cats, as that would be a disservice to the cat. Euthanasia is undoubtedly the hardest part of the job, but as an organization that is in part responsible for the well-being of a community, it is a responsibility that we must accept. Housing untreatable, aggressive animals for their remaining years in cages and kennels is not a preferable, realistic, or humane alternative to euthanasia.

WAIF has helped many thousands of animals and families and will continue to do so. Supported by increasing levels of compassion, donations, and volunteer hours; we are reminded that whether you are a donor, volunteer or member of the community you care as much as we do. On behalf of the thousands of animals and people we have helped, thank you for your continued support.

*Asilomar Accords defines Live Release Rate as the percentage of all outcomes in which an animal leaves the shelter alive. This includes return to owner, adoptions, or transfers to another life-saving shelter or rescue. This is different than basing it on animal intake numbers as those remaining in shelter have not received an outcome yet.