The shelter is accepting lost pets by appointment only starting Wednesday, December 21. Learn More

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Nov 11, 2022

Shelter Update

Update as of 12/19/2022

The shelter is clear of canine pneumovirus and will be accepting lost pets by appointment only starting Wednesday, December 21.

The Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County team has been working hard to serve our animals while facing canine pneumovirus in our shelter. Through our continued collaboration with specialists and based on their thorough and professional recommendations for minimizing the spread, we are happy to announce that all dogs in our care have been cleared of canine pneumovirus.

Therefore, we plan to resume taking in lost dogs on Wednesday, December 21, in a limited capacity by appointment. Appointments will be scheduled online at www.thehumanesociety.org/lost-pets/found-pet-appointment.

The shelter will implement a managed intake strategy based on a nationally-recognized animal sheltering model that aligns with the needs and resources of the community. There are several evidence-based reasons why shelters transition to managed intakes:

  • Appointments reduce stressful wait times for both people and lost animals.
  • Our staff can manage and better prepare for the flow of animals into the shelter.
  • We can serve more pets and people rather than fewer over time.
  • We can stay within our capacity to provide needed care and better respond to critical situations and emergencies.
  • In addition to improving efficiency, managed intakes will help us control the spread of disease in the shelter.

We are implementing proven strategies to isolate cases of disease rather than bring new dogs into a crowded shelter population where viruses can spread easily and rapidly. Keeping the shelter population at a manageable level is the first step to stopping disease and transmission.

Managed intakes are most effective with community support. Studies have shown that the majority of lost pets are found less than a mile from home, and most lost pets brought to shelters are never found. Bringing a lost animal to a shelter decreases their chance of being found, creates crowding in kennels, introduces the animal into a stressful environment where they often get sick, and wait weeks or even months for a new home.

If you find a stray (especially a lost dog) the best thing you can do for that animal is to hold onto it and make proactive efforts to find the owner. We can provide those who find lost pets with food and offer kennels, leashes, and collars when available.

We recommend those who find a lost pet take these steps before bringing that animal to the shelter:

  • Take the pet around your neighborhood and ask your neighbors if they recognize the animal. Post flyers of the animal throughout your community.
  • Check to see if the pet has a tag or other contact information. There may be owner or veterinarian contact information on the animal’s collar. Take the pet to an animal hospital to scan for a microchip.
  • Social media platforms such as Nextdoor and Facebook are all extremely effective at reuniting lost pets with their owners.

By using our tips at https://www.thehumanesociety.org/lost-pets/ to house the animal and find the owner, you are drastically increasing the chances of reuniting the animal with its family. Owners are often located within 24-72 hours using these tips.

Update as of 11/11/2022

Starting in May, over 31 dogs have shown signs of canine pneumovirus at the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County with 15 dogs currently being treated at the shelter.

The non-zoonotic virus is highly contagious amongst dogs and rodents and is not transferable to humans or cats. Signs of the virus include but are not limited to coughing, discharge from the eyes or nose, and abnormal breathing.

“Several other shelters across the nation have experienced increased cases of canine respiratory illnesses this year,” said Leah Turner, chief operating officer at the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County. “Our priority is to ensure a safe and healthy environment for the dogs in our care and in our community.”

The shelter has been quarantining affected dogs and following proper procedures outlined by the shelter’s veterinary team. Due to an increase in cases, the shelter is implementing a managed intake strategy in alignment with guidelines from veterinary experts and nationally recognized disease control best practices.

Therefore, the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County is in urgent need of support from the community with stray/lost pets, adoptions, fosters, and donations:

Help decrease the number of dogs coming into our shelter by holding onto a lost or stray dog if found

Effective immediately and until further notice, the shelter will stop taking in any additional stray, lost, or owner-surrendered dogs. The community is asked to help decrease the number of dogs coming into the shelter by holding onto a lost or stray dog if found. The shelter will only accept lost or stray dogs in emergency circumstances (i.e., dangerous behavior or requiring immediate medical care).

“The best way to prevent the spread of the disease is by quarantining affected dogs, and limiting the number of dogs who enter the shelter,” said Turner. “If a lost pet is currently at the shelter, owners will still be able to pick them up.”

Found animals are often owned pets, and are usually found within a mile of their home. Unfortunately, bringing a lost pet to a shelter decreases their chance of being found by their owner and fills up much-needed space in the shelter. Furthermore, a shelter can be a stressful environment where animals can wait for long periods of time for a home. If you find a stray or lost dog, please take the following steps: 

1. Locate the owner

  • Walk the animal around the area – most pets don’t wander far from home!
  • You can post online and put up signage around your community to help locate the owners.
  • Upload photos of the pet to Petco Love Lost.
  • Call your local veterinary clinics with a description of the pet.
  • Have the pet scanned for a microchip at your local veterinary clinic, pet store, or shelter.
  • If the pet is wearing a license, call your local animal control for the owner’s information.
  • Call the shelter at (253) 383 – 2733 to give our staff a description of the pet for it to be included in our found pet records.

Check out this resource for when you’ve found a pet. 

Shelter Update


2. Provide the pet a temporary home, if possible 

  • If you can hold on to a pet, their family will have an easier time getting them back if they stay in the neighborhood they were found. We can provide those who find lost pets with food and offer kennels, leashes, and collars when available.
Open up your home to a pet in need by adopting or fostering

We’re asking the community to urgently open up their homes to a pet in need by adopting or fostering. All adoptable pets have been deemed healthy by the shelter’s veterinary team and have not exhibited any symptoms of upper respiratory illness. Every adoptable pet has had a wellness exam from shelter veterinary staff, been spayed or neutered, received their initial vaccines, and is microchipped with national registration.

View our adoptable pets. 

Not looking to adopt? Foster homes are urgently needed to help care for the dogs currently receiving treatment as well as for the many healthy shelter pets waiting to be adopted to help clear up space.

Apply today to become a foster. 

“Shelter pets need the community’s help now more than ever,” says Lindsey Heaney, communications manager at the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County. “If you have space and love to spare right now, even for a temporary time, please consider fostering or adopting.”

Donate to help pets in need

The community can also help by donating to support the shelter’s lifesaving medical efforts and to continue caring for the many pets in need.

Donate to help save lives today. 

The shelter is in immediate need of the following supplies:

  • Unopened bags of dog food
  • Gently used dog collars and leashes
  • Plastic pet travel crates
  • Training/pee pads
  • Reusable cleaning gowns
  • New or gently used towels

Donated items can be brought to the shelter during Adoption Center hours Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. or purchased on the shelter’s Amazon and Chewy wish lists.

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