IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING…
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why is it the “Alternative” Humane Society?
A: The Alternative Humane Society was started in 1977 as an “alternative” to the Humane Society. We are an all-volunteer organization. We have never had a shelter, an office, or any paid staff. The majority of our work is done from volunteers’ homes. AHS runs a limited admission foster program for dogs and cats. The number of animals we accept is determined by the number of foster homes we have. Once we take in an animal, we keep it for as long as it takes to find it a home.
The Whatcom Humane Society (WHS) is an open admission shelter with contracts with the City and County that obligate them to take in any animals that are brought to them. Until the problem of animal over-population is solved, WHS inevitably gets overcrowded and when the shelter gets too full, some animals have to be euthanized. While AHS is different from WHS, we have the same purpose of helping homeless companion animals. All rescue organizations, whether they euthanize or not, are part of the bigger picture and we recognize that there are simply too many unwanted cats and dogs and not enough good homes for all of them. The real solution is to reduce the number of kittens and puppies born each year by spaying and neutering our pets.
Q: AHS is “no kill,” right?
A: Our goal is to end the euthanasia of healthy adoptable animals in our lifetime. We do not endorse the use of the term “no kill” because it implies that someone is “killing” and that “someone” usually refers to shelters like WHS. When AHS turns an animal away because we do not have room or do not deem the animal to be adoptable, their guardians are usually forced to take them to WHS where they might be euthanized because there is no space for them. The answer to this tragedy is not to diminish or demean the incredibly hard and important work WHS does through degrading language. The answer is for all of us to work together to help reduce the animal population through ambitious spay/neuter programs and to help the shelter expand their operations so they can take in more animals.
Q: How can I help?
A: AHS teams do all the work to keep AHS going and growing. To learn more about our volunteer opportunities and events, call our hotline, 360-671-7445, to schedule a conversation and volunteer orientation. You can fill out a volunteer application online too. You are also invited to attend one of our monthly Operations Meetings, held the first Tuesday evening of every month, or a volunteer orientation. Check our calendar for details.
Q: Where are your adoptable animals?
A: All the animals in our care are in foster homes throughout Whatcom County. You can meet many of our adoptable animals at our monthly Adopt-a-thons. Appointments can also be made to meet an animal in their foster home.
Q: What is your Adoption Process?
A: Our adoption processes starts with a completed Statement of Interest form. With this in hand, an adoption counselor will contact the potential adopter and go from there. We do not do same-day adoptions, and adoptions are not on a first-come, first-served basis. Filling out a Statement of Interest form does not guarantee you a dog or cat, or a chance to meet the dog or cat you are interested in.
Q: How much does it cost to adopt a dog or cat through AHS?
A: Our adoption fees vary depending on the age of the animal. All our adoption fees include age-appropriate vet care, including spay/neuter surgery for all dogs over 6 months of age, DHLPP shots, rabies shots and de-worming. All cats are spayed/neutered before adoption.
Puppies (younger than 18 months) – $275 (Plus an additional $200 spay/neuter deposit for puppies that are not spayed or neutered at time of adoption)
Adult Dogs (18 months – 8 years) – $200
Senior Dogs (8 years and up) – $160
Kittens (up to one year) – $160
Adult cats (over one year) – $100
Q: Do you adopt dogs to Canada?
A: Yes! We will provide you with all the necessary paperwork to cross the border.
Q: Can an AHS dog live in an apartment?
A: Absolutely! But, we will need to discuss a plan for exercising your dog. We realize that different dogs have different exercise needs and that some dogs are a better match for apartment living. We will work with you to find a dog suitable to your living situation.
Q: Can AHS dogs or cats live with renters?
A: Yep! We’ll just check with your landlord to make sure pets are allowed in your rental unit. We’ll also check on any weight, size, or breed restrictions. This is particularly important if you are adopting a puppy because we cannot guarantee what size or weight a puppy will grow to be.
Q: If the AHS dog or cat I like is adopted, will you help me find a different one?
A: Absolutely! We will help approved adopters find the right animal companion for them. There is no need to reapply or to start the process over again.
Q: Can I apply to adopt without knowing which AHS dog or cat I want?
A: Yep! We have a Matchmaking Team dedicated to screening adopters who are not sure which dog or cat they’d like. Once you are approved to adopt, this dedicated team will send you suggestions of who might be a good match!
Q: Do AHS dogs and cats have to be spayed or neutered?
A: Yes, they do. In fact, AHS dogs over the age of 6 months and all cats will be spayed or neutered before they are adopted out. Puppies adopted under the age of 6 months must be spayed/neutered by their adopter by a date agreed upon in the adoption contract (usually within 6 months). AHS takes spaying/neutering very seriously and requires puppy adopters to pay an additional $200 deposit, which is given back once proof has been provided that the puppy has been spayed/neutered.
Q: What do I do if my AHS dog or cat is having trouble?
A: Let us know–the sooner the better. Small problems that start early on become big problems as time passes. We have lots of resources to share with you. Moreover, because we have a large pool of volunteers who have been doing this for a long time, we probably have experience dealing with whatever issue you may be facing. Let us help!
Q: What do I do if I cannot keep my AHS dog or cat?
A: AHS dogs and cats are lucky for life! So, if for any reason, you cannot keep your AHS dog or cat, let us know as soon as possible. We will begin the process of taking them back. But remember, we are here for you before that decision is made. If you have problems—no matter how small—let us know before they become big! We can provide you the advice and support you need to fix the problems before they get out of control.
Q: I need help re-homing a dog or cat that I did not adopt from AHS. Can you help?
A: Most likely, yes. We are happy to help families in need to re-home their dog or cat provided that: (1) the animal meets our adoption criteria, and (2) that you can hold onto him/her until we find a foster home or you are in a position to keep him/her until a new home is found (owner foster).
Q: What information do you need to help re-home my pet?
A: Completing a relinquishment form is the first step. Once we’ve received that, our Intake Coordinator will get in touch with you to discuss whether your dog or cat meets our criteria.
Q: I called your hotline about adopting, but no one called me back. Why?
A: AHS is 100% volunteer. Our hotline receives about a dozen or more calls a day. Messages are picked up once each weekday by a volunteer and routed to the appropriate team leader by e-mail. Here are some of the things that can happen with phone calls:
We call back and there is no answer, or we leave a message that doesn’t reach the original caller
The phone number we recorded is out of service
People call on cell phones and we cannot decipher their call
Callers forget to leave their numbers
Callbacks are blocked by caller ID services that do not accept unidentified calls