Grant a boon to human and canine seniors


Love is in the air for senior dogs and older adults at the Oregon Humane Society, thanks to a recent grant from The Grey Muzzle Organization, a national nonprofit, to help rehome more dogs ages seven and older. Through the grant, adoption fees will be waived for all senior dogs adopted by adults 60 and older during OHS’s Senior Tuesday.

By offering these senior dogs with their adoption fee waived, OHS will be able to transfer in more senior dogs from partner shelters, giving them a second chance at a loving home.

“We are very grateful for this grant from The Grey Muzzle Organization,” says Sharon Harmon, OHS President and CEO. “This will give more senior dogs the chance to find a loving home with an older adult.”

Learn more about OHS’s Senior Tuesday and see adoptable pets at

Beacon in animal welfare


In the ongoing fight against animal cruelty, neglect, overpopulation, and homelessness, Petlandia is a beacon of justice and compassion. Here, we have a long history of passing laws and supporting programs that save lives.

Milestone for Oregon Humane Society

As the region’s oldest animal welfare organization, OHS has been fighting animal cruelty since before Portland had paved streets. This year, as the organization marks its 150th birthday, its Portland shelter achieves some of the highest pet adoption numbers in the western US and supports Oregon’s only dedicated team of animal cruelty investigators.

In 1884 and 1885, when mistreated horses used in farming and transportation were a common concern, OHS helped pass the first statewide humane laws. Legislators signed a law imposing a $100 fine and/or 60 days in jail for “Whoever overdrives, overloads, deprives of necessary sustenance, or cruelly beats” an animal.

Today, OHS Staff Attorney and Investigative Lead Emily Lewis says the region’s animal-friendly laws make Oregon a leader. Senate Bill 6 is a celebrated example, and one of Lewis’ favorites in her seven years at OHS. In that groundbreaking 2013 bill, lawmakers increased penalties for certain crimes against animals. It’s significant, she says, in that it “captures Oregonians’ reverence and respect for animals, acknowledging that they’re sentient, and experience pain, stress, and fear. They’re not just regular evidence in a case.”

Oregon is progressive for adding to the list of violations that are felonies, Lewis continues. “If someone has a prior conviction for certain domestic violence crimes, it can make an animal abuse crime a felony versus a misdemeanor. Also, if committed in front of a minor, that’s acknowledged.”

Lewis says she can’t imagine working in any other part of the country, but even in humane-minded Oregon, there’s always more to do. One example is the Oregon pre-conviction forfeiture law, which lets judges and humane agencies put animals in new homes while their alleged abusers await trial. In the past, shelters sometimes held animals in limbo for months or years while the legal wheels slowly turned. “Almost every year we work to make it stronger and more applicable to the cases and issues we’re seeing,” Lewis says.

At the shelter and on her unique team of law enforcement officers, Lewis says, “We’re always looking to help more.”

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Fences for Fido  Unleashes a Humane Trend

When a dozen Portland friends teamed up in May 2009 to build a free fenced yard for a dog named Chopper, they unleashed more than a dog. The friendly yellow Lab mix had watched the world go by from the end of a chain because his family couldn’t afford to fence their corner lot.

When news outlets picked up Chopper’s story, urgent pleas to help other dogs flooded in, citing dogs who had languished alone on chains, exposed to the elements, sometimes for many years.

Volunteers — this writer included — recall that the work took on a life of its own. As they formed the Portland-based nonprofit, Fences For Fido, and scrambled to meet the unrelenting need, the momentum seemed to pick them up and run with them.

Less than a decade later, that group of friends has ballooned to several hundred volunteers who’ve unleashed more than 1800 dogs in Oregon and SW Washington. They’ve also helped change Oregon tether laws and inspired others across the country to follow suit.

Oregon House Bill 2783 took effect January 1, 2014, restricting the number of hours a dog could be tethered to a stationary object and clarifies legal requirements for appropriate animal housing, bedding, and care.

In the years since, states and communities across the US have seen a proliferation of 90-plus laws either limiting or fully banning the practice of keeping dogs on chains. Fences For Fido volunteers supported many of those changes, guiding activists, providing sample bill language, and sharing tips through the group’s outreach effort, dubbed “Unchained Planet.”


Multnomah County  Folds Up the Circus Tent

Responding to pleas from animal advocates and a flood of testimony and letters from residents, Multnomah County Commissioners voted unanimously July 12 to ban circuses and traveling shows that use exotic animals.

Local resident Andrea Kozil launched the effort in March, approaching Commissioner Sharon Meieran with proposed language for an ordinance. “Wild or exotic animals used in traveling animal displays suffer severe and extended confinement,” Kozil says, and the acts perpetuate the demand for the sale and breeding of the animals. After visiting an exotic animal show to see the practices for herself, Meieran told Kozil she’d champion the ban.

Portland resident Kelly Peterson, who works for the Humane Society of the United States, says her organization counts a total of 137 US communities and four states with similar bans. “I’m so pleased that Multnomah County has been added to such a distinguished list, especially since Oregon continues to be ranked as the second most animal-friendly state in the nation.”

- Michelle Blake

Pets & People Celebrate as More than 11,000 Pets Find Homes


2017 was a very good year for pets: thanks to a public that opened their hearts and homes to animals, the Oregon Humane Society was once again able to find homes for more than 11,000 pets during the calendar year.

One of the most fortunate pets to go home last week was a tuxedo-colored cat named Buttons who first arrived at OHS on May 31, 2017. “OHS never puts a time limit on how long a pet stays at the shelter, which makes the adoption of more  than 11,000 pets all the more remarkable,” said OHS President and CEO Sharon Harmon. The final adoption total for OHS in 2017 was 11,297 animals, which included dog, cats, birds, rabbits, rodents and horses.

2017 marks the eighth year in a row that OHS has met its target of finding homes for 11,000 pets, the highest number of pets adopted by any single-shelter facility on the West Coast.

2017 may also have been one of the best years for the traditional OHS “Home for the Holidays” campaign. The annual campaign seeks to find homes by December 31 for every pet who is at the shelter on December 1. This year’s campaign began with 152 Home for the Holiday pets, but by December 31, only 14 of those pets (including five mice) were still available for adoption.

All pets available for adoption at OHS can be viewed online at:

PHOTO: Buttons the cat went home on Dec. 30, after spending six months waiting for his forever family.

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The Oregon Humane Society is the Northwest's oldest and largest humane society. OHS relies entirely on donations to support its adoption, education, and animal cruelty investigation programs. Visit for more information. OHS is located at 1067 NE Columbia Blvd, Portland, Oregon.


Free Pet Crates for OHS Shoppers on Black Friday


Shoppers who visit the Oregon Humane Society’s pet supply store will get a special treat this Friday: a free, gently used animal crate. The crates come in various sizes, colors and quality levels, and have a value of between $35 - $200.

One free crate will be provided with every purchase of $25 or more at Best Friends’ Corner, the pet supply store located in the main lobby of OHS.

Best Friends’ Corner is one of Portland’s premier destinations for pet owners, offering a range of food, grooming products, toys and other items for pet lovers. Best of all, 100% of store proceeds go to support shelter pets.

The store is open from 10 am – 9 pm this Friday, Nov. 24, and is located in the main lobby of OHS, 1067 NE Columbia Blvd., Portland, Oregon 97211.

Crates supplies are limited; one crate will be provided per customer while supplies last.

PHOTO: Free pet crates with purchases of $25 or more this Friday at OHS. Stuffed pet toy not included.

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The Oregon Humane Society is the Northwest's oldest and largest humane society. OHS relies on donations to support its adoption, education, and animal cruelty investigation programs. Visit for more information.

OHS Makes it Easier for Cat Lovers to Adopt

Duke of Sampsononiah, an eight-year old male cat, became available for adoption at OHS earlier this week

Duke of Sampsononiah, an eight-year old male cat, became available for adoption at OHS earlier this week

Facedwith a major influx of cats from the public, the Oregon Humane Society is cutting adoption fees by half for all cats six years and older through April 30.

“If the rainy days and overcast skies are getting you down, it may be time to bring a furry ray of sunshine into your life,” said Sharon Harmon, chief executive officer of OHS. “Mature cats are too often overlooked because of the demand for kittens. But these older felines can make the best of companions.”

In the last week, an unusually high number of cats have been surrendered to OHS from people no longer able to care for them. OHS currently has 64 cats available for adoption (about half are six years or older). Another 62 cats are receiving care at the shelter and should be available in the near future.

The special discount offer will reduce the usual $15 fee for a six-year-old cat to $7.50. The adoption special runs from Wednesday, April 26, through the end of the day on Sunday, April 30.

The public can view photos and descriptions of all cats available for adoption here. Every cat adopted from OHS is spayed or neutered and comes with a microchip ID, collar and  tag, initial vaccines, courtesy veterinarian exam, 30 days of free PetPlan health insurance for Oregon residents and plenty of post-adoption support.

OHS is located at 1067 NE Columbia Blvd. in Portland. Shelter hours are 10 am – 7 pm Sunday through Wednesday, and 10 am – 9 pmThursday through Saturday. For more information, contact OHS at or call 503/285-7722.

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The Oregon Humane Society is the Northwest's oldest and largest humane society. OHS relies entirely on donations to support its adoption, education, and animal cruelty investigation programs. Visit for more information. OHS is located at 1067 NE Columbia Blvd, Portland, Oregon.

30th annual Doggie Dash is May 13th

The largest and oldest humane society in the Pacific Northwest, the Oregon Humane Society boasts a fantastic 97% save rate.  Established in 1868, the organization is admired and respected in the community, evidenced by another strong showing in the Top Dog Awards this year.

Rescuing, healing and adopting more than 11,600 pets annually is made possible by the hard work and compassion of 180 animal-loving full-time staff and over 2,000 volunteers. The organization also offers ongoing workshops on training, TTouch, pet massage, managing multi-pet households, managing behaviorally-challenged pets and more. Other OHS services include animal rescue, emergency response, treating abused animals, spay/neuter, and medical care.

Supported 100% by private donations and fundraisers, OHS’s Doggie Dash is perhaps the largest, most popular annual pet event in Portland.

“We are thrilled to be celebrating our 30th year on May 13th,” says Barbara Baugnon, OHS Vice President of Marketing and Communications. This is our largest fundraiser and biggest event — more than 8,000 people come out with over 3,000 dogs of all breeds and sizes. It really is a citywide celebration, and the largest dog walk on the west coast! Our goal this year is to raise $675,000.” In addition to the walk, Doggie Dash includes a large Vendor Village, contests, treats, and even human chair massages. “Because it’s our 30th anniversary this year, we are doing a throw-back to 1987 [the first year], with a neon color theme,” says Baugnon.

Among its many accolades, OHS — and specifically, Doggie Dash — have been Top Dog winners most years. “We are absolutely honored to win in so many Top Dog categories, as it means we are relevant and right on track. Oregonians have always loved, cared for, and respected their pets. I love that we have been here in the same spot for 148 years, and that there are pets buried here in our cemetery dating back to 1920. We have grown to a 46,000 square-foot animal shelter, and another 22,000 square-foot animal medical center, with three surgery suites, radiology, recovery rooms, and even a pharmacy.”

Details and to register at

Melinda Thompson is a freelance writer with a degree in Speech Communications and a coveted "Ducktorate" from the Walt Disney World Company. She has been featured in many local magazines and newspapers.  She lives in Vancouver USA with her husband, son and daughter.

Top 2016 OHS Volunteers Honored

René Pizzo of Oregon City gave more than 400 hours of volunteer time to help pets in 2016, winning her the OHS Volunteer of the Year Award.

OHS volunteers help in myriad ways — walking dogs, rescuing and re-homing pets, assisting shelter veterinarians, and more. Last year, more than 4,000 people contributed their time and talents to helping the animals at OHS.

“We would need 118 additional full-time employees to equal the amount of time contributed by our volunteers last year,” says Sharon Harmon, OHS Executive Director. “The compassion and commitment of OHS volunteers is truly something to bark about!”

During a ceremony in March, OHS presented awards to volunteers and one staff member (chosen by the volunteers) in 23 categories. Harmon presented the Volunteer of the Year Award to Pizzo, a Lifetime Achievement Award to Teresa Leap, and the Volunteer’s Choice Award to Denise Kinstetter. The End Petlessness Award went to Carol Christensen.  To learn more about all of the 2016 award-winning volunteers, visit

OHS seeks nominations of heroes

Do you know an animal who’s made a difference in the life of a special needs child or someone with an illness? Or a person who’s helped animals in a unique way? The Oregon Humane Society is accepting nominations for its Diamond Collar Hero Awards now through Feb. 1. The awards recognize and honor animals who have acted to save a human or animal life in peril, performed services within the community with undying loyalty, or overcome incredible odds in order to survive. Winners are also humans who have had a positive impact on the lives of animals, exhibiting courage and compassion in the pursuit of animals' wellbeing.

Nominations can be delivered in person or by mail to OHS, or submitted at Winners will be notified in early February, and will be honored at the OHS Heroes Luncheon Feb. 22.

Juno helps change the rules

An emaciated dog named Juno, rescued by Oregon Humane Society six years ago, has helped achieve a major legal victory for animal advocates in Oregon. A June 16 ruling by the Oregon Supreme Court turned aside the owner’s attempt to suppress a blood sample taken by OHS. The owner argued that Juno was personal property and that OHS had no right to take Juno’s blood without first obtaining a search warrant.

In rejecting that argument, the Oregon Supreme Court cited Oregon’s strong laws mandating that owners provide animals with minimum care. When an animal is legally seized and there is probable cause to suspect abuse or neglect, said the court, authorities are within their rights to obtain a blood sample without a search warrant. Juno, who was significantly underweight when seized by OHS, went on to regain his health and was subsequently adopted. The owner was later convicted of neglect.

The case began when an OHS officer, responding to a report of neglect, seized Juno after observing the dog's poor physical condition. Juno was then taken to OHS, where an OHS veterinarian took a blood sample, which showed Juno's emaciated condition was due to underfeeding.

“This ruling removes what could have been a major roadblock to cruelty investigations,” said OHS Executive Director Sharon Harmon. “We applaud the court for recognizing the special status of animals under Oregon law.”

Awards honor heroic pets and people

Oregon Humane Society’s Diamond Collar Awards celebrated pets and people for acts of compassion and selflessness that made the community a better place in February. Award winners included:  

*Zipporah, a crisis intervention dog who served after the Oso, Washington landslide, and the Umpqua Community College shooting.  

*Kelly Peterson, director of Fences for Fido, which builds fences to unchain dogs — some who have lived tethered for years. FFF also provides dog houses and spay/neuter services. FFF has unchained 1,300 dogs since 2009. 

*Raider, a rare certified therapy cat, trained to alert diabetics when blood sugar reaches unhealthy levels.  

*Philanthropist Howard Hedinger received the OHS Lifetime Achievement for his enduring support of animals and children. Hedinger has been a leader in business and philanthropy for nearly 50 years. 

More details and photos at