Thank you for your interest in learning more about WAIF and how we serve the stray and abandoned animal population of Whidbey Island. Clicking on questions will direct you to the corresponding answers. Links throughout the answers will guide you to further information on our website. Should you have any other questions, please consult our Contact Us page.

What is the typical length of stay for an animal at WAIF?

Most animals that come to WAIF are here for less than a month. Cats may take longer to adopt than dogs so they may be with us a month or two. On rare occasions, we may have shelter animals with us for a few more months and beyond before being adopted into forever home. We will reach out to WAIF partner groups to facilitate an adoption for those who have not been adopted in a timely manner or may move them to our WAIF adoption location to increase their visibility and opportunities for adoptions.

How many animals does WAIF help?

WAIF helps approximately 1,000 companion animals every year. This includes the adoption of shelter animals but it also includes reuniting lost pets with their owners. In addition to helping thousands of animals, WAIF also assists low-income families with spay/neuter procedures or in times of a medical crisis with our Crisis Care program, and all community members through our community outreach and education programs. Visit our Programs page, for more information.

Does WAIF have foster families?

Yes, many. Primarily foster families are used for critical situations-mostly for litters of kittens, but also during the recovery period for some animals (both cats and dogs) that need attention for special health or behavior issues. If you would like to learn more, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator.

Does WAIF collaborate with any rescue organizations?

Yes. WAIF collaborates with rescue groups who have met WAIF criteria and qualifications in order to become an approved partner. WAIF has a thorough application process it uses to evaluate potential partner rescue groups.

How does WAIF decide the best match for adoption of an animal?

WAIF works very hard to assess the personality and needs of each of its adoptable animals so it can make a good match and find a “forever family” for each animal in its care. WAIF staff spend every day with our adoptable pets and know them well enough to answer your questions and help point you toward pets that will suit you. Please note that while we accept multiple applications per pet, the first application submitted will have the first opportunity to interview for and adopt the animal.

WAIF’s adoption policies are tailored to suit our rural Whidbey community and ones used by shelters nationwide. In some cases, the home may not be suitable for a particular animal-for example, an unfenced yard would not be suitable for an animal that roams or one who may be considered to have a strong prey drive. Small children in the home would not be suitable for an animal that is reactive, fearful or sensitive to noise. A potential owner who wants a cat to live indoors but with outdoor access would not be the right owner for a cat who has been declawed. As a result of our thorough adoption process, many adoptions are approved with a pet (or two) ready and eager to be a part of your family!

Where can I visit WAIF shelter animals?

WAIF has three locations on Whidbey Island to view, visit and play with shelter animals. WAIF’s main adoption facility is located in Coupeville, just north of Island County Solid Waste. WAIF dogs and cats are sheltered here for you to visit with and make an adoption. In addition, WAIF has two other adoption centers dedicated solely to shelter cats, which you’ll find next door to Oak Harbor Thrift Store and our cat cottage located in Freeland. For locations, hours of operation and contact information, please visit our locations page.

You may also find adoptable shelter animals at many local events. WAIF brings dogs to walk in local parades and at community events like July 4th Parade, Memorial Day, Holland Happening, Wag ‘n’ Walk, Loganberry Festival and Bayview Mutt Strut. Many of WAIF’s ‘parade dogs’ have been adopted shortly afterwards by people who saw them at these events. To reduce stress for our WAIF cats, we choose to keep them in our shelters and adoption centers. Visit our Events Calendar for upcoming events.

Does WAIF spay or neuter animals?

It is WAIF’s policy to ensure that every animal adopted from us is spayed or neutered. This policy is designed to reduce the overpopulation of unwanted animals and strays within our community. Through a contract with WAIF, a licensed veterinarian performs these surgeries for our shelter animals. At the time of adoption, adoption and medical fees help offset surgery costs but are largely subsidized by generous donations.

At this time, WAIF only performs spay/neuter surgeries on shelter animals. If you have a pet that you would like spay or neutered, please contact your local veterinarian for any questions you might have or to set-up an appointment.

If you need assistance with spay or neuter surgeries for your pet, WAIF offers coupons to qualified low-income households. Please email shelter@waifanimals.org or call 360-678-8900 for details.

How many jobs does WAIF provide in the community?

WAIF has 37 individuals on payroll in the organization as a whole (three retail locations, two cat adoption centers, two animal shelters, and one spay/neuter clinic). During construction of the new shelter, our contractor anticipates 20-30 full-time jobs will be created and another 30-40 jobs of temporary duration.

How does WAIF prevent disease outbreak?

WAIF staff and dedicated volunteers work incredibly hard to maintain clean, sanitary facilities for our shelter population. The Coupeville shelter has an air ventilation system that ensures clean air exchange to help prevent the spread of disease. One of the top priorities of the new shelter design is the ease with which staff and volunteers can maintain a clean and safe environment for the animals in its care and those who care for them.

Is WAIF a “no-kill” shelter?

WAIF is a life-saving shelter that has a long history of saving all healthy and treatable animals in its care. Several national organizations and nationally recognized experts, including Nathan Winograd, in his book Redemption, have indicated that a euthanasia rate of 10% or lower (live release rate of 90% or higher) is a good indicator that a shelter is trying to save all healthy and unhealthy but treatable animals. Using the nationally developed Asilomar Accords formula for determining the live release rate, WAIF has an annual average of 95%.

Why do I occasionally hear complaints about WAIF?

Few things evoke more emotion than the care and treatment of stray or abandoned animals within our community. We understand that as a successful organization that relies on community trust; we will receive requests about our practices. These requests are natural, and we’re happy to accommodate reasonable inquiries. However, despite a long history as one of the leading shelter organizations in the country there are some members of the community who insist on spreading false or misleading information about WAIF. It is unclear why someone would want to hurt WAIF or disparage the tireless employees and volunteers. Unfortunately, when we are forced to repeatedly confront or respond to misleading or malicious information, we run the risk of becoming distracted from focusing on caring for shelter animals and serving the community. It is for this reason that WAIF rarely responds to these attacks publicly. For more information, please read WAIF’s statement here.

We are fortunate to live in a community with such passionate and caring people. If not for the many committed animal lovers who support us through generous donations, volunteer hours and public support, we couldn’t begin to do the work that we do for Whidbey Island.

What is WAIF’s relationship with local government?

WAIF receives a small portion of its income from contracts with Island County and the City of Oak Harbor to provide shelter services. Though the average length of stay is typically much longer, Island County provides for the sheltering of dogs only for five days, and Oak Harbor covers sheltering for both cats and dogs for up to six days. WAIF covers all remaining costs of caring for and placing dogs and cats into loving permanent homes, regardless of how long that takes. To offset these costs, WAIF relies on the generous support of countless volunteers and donors, and the revenue generated by thrift stores in Freeland and Oak Harbor, and our BaRC Re-tail location in Coupeville.