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  • Writer's pictureSusan Houser

Orcas Island, WA

San Juan County, population 15,800, is an archipelago located off the shore of the state of Washington. There are no bridges to the islands of San Juan County, and transportation is by air or water. The four main islands are San Juan (population 6800), Orcas (4500), Lopez (2200), and Shaw (240). The county has one incorporated city, Friday Harbor, which has 2200 residents and is located on San Juan Island.

There are two animal shelters that serve San Juan County — the Friday Harbor Animal Protection Society (FHAPS) on San Juan Island and the Orcas Animal Protection Society (OAPS) on Orcas Island. Both shelters are non-profits that take in strays and owner surrenders. I spoke with officials from both shelters about the history and operation of the shelters. Years ago, the shelters were part of the same organization (hence the similarity in their names) but now they are separate organizations.

OAPS accepts owner surrenders except for dogs that are dangerous to people or have killed other animals. They do not perform owner-requested euthanasia. In 2012 their intake was 218 animals, including 65 animals that they took in to help other shelters. They returned 83 animals to their owners and adopted out 109. They did not euthanize any dogs in 2012, and had to euthanize 10 cats for medical reasons, mostly elderly cats in renal failure. Their live release rate for 2012 was 95%.

In 2013, OAPS had an intake of 160 animals, with a live release rate of 98%. The live release rate was 97% if animals who died in shelter care are included as euthanasias. The shelter official I spoke with at OAPS attributes their high live release rates to a vigorous spay-neuter program that was started 25 years ago. Feral cats get TNR and domesticated cats can be spayed or neutered for free. All shelter dogs are spayed or neutered, and OAPS will subsidize spaying and neutering for owned dogs at the local veterinarian, based on financial need. Here is a link to OAPS’s 2013 statistics: Orcas APS stats 2013

See the Worth Watching category for a separate report on FHAPS.

OAPS and FHAPS both take in animals from Lopez Island, which has a foster program but does not have a public shelter. They also are ready to help when they get calls from the smaller islands in the county such as Shaw and Waldron, and the shelters help each other when needed.

Orcas Island, WA, was originally listed by this blog on October 5, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.



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