Thank you for the gifts!

Jan 2018

We are so thankful for the kind gifts you all gave this holiday season! Not only did folks make generous monetary gifts, but the Shelter animals received fantastic treats, toys, and more! We couldn’t be more appreciative of the support the Shelter receives not only during the holidays but all year round – thank you! Below are just a couple shots of some of the animals enjoying their presents.

Happy Tails Update: Olympians

Jan 2018

We just had to share this adorable Happy Tail story from Petey’s Mom, Muffy!

“Here is a picture of Petey and her siblings on their 9th birthday- Dec. 21st (we think).”

These dogs were all from the same litter and were adopted from the Shelter by locals!  They were the “Olympic Dogs” named after local Olympians at the time.  The dogs and their owners get together each year to celebrate the dogs birthdays!

Send in your Happy Tails stories to!

Ugly Sweater Adoption Event!

Dec 2017

Join us at the Animal Shelter for an

Ugly Sweater Adoption Event

December 20th, 4pm – 6pm
@ the Animal Shelter
100 Croy Creek Road, Hailey

Join us for a special adoption event to help get more pets home for the holidays! Adoptions are free when you sport your sweater (or scarf) of choice! Enjoy beer from the Sawtooth Brewery & other fun seasonal beverages while you mix and mingle with some seriously cute adoptables.


Water, water, everywhere

Nov 2017

Last Thursday, Shelter staff walked into a rather unfortunate surprise. Water. And lots of it. The water was coming in from the ceiling in multiple places, but one of the worst was right over the adoption counselors’ computers – ruining some computers that were just purchased this year. The lights in several areas are shut off to prevent any electrical shorts, the adoption counselors are working out of a temporary trailer while the ceiling and roof are being fixed, and one side of the indoor upper kennels is closed and the dogs moved around so they can still enjoy warm and comfy spots to relax.

However, the Shelter is still open for adoptions, staff are in good spirits, and volunteers are helping keep the animals happy.
If you’d like to help, a donation to the Shelter can help mitigate the costs as we work to fix the damage!

After more than 35 years of hard use, clearly our current shelter is ready for a break. To learn more about the exciting new “animal adoption and humane education center” we’re building across the street, click here!

The Shelter is Setting Big Goals!

Nov 2017

The Animal Shelter of Wood River Valley has some very ambitious goals. During its board of directors’ annual strategic planning session last weekend, the group committed to two primary outcomes the organization will be working toward in upcoming years. The goals were inspired by the expanded opportunities made possible by the new “humane education and animal adoption center” the organization is currently building in Hailey, across the street from the current shelter.

The first goal is to leverage the Animal Shelter’s “expertise and resources to be a catalyst for the State of Idaho to decrease by 100% the number of healthy, adoptable animals euthanized in shelters by 2025.” In other words, the goal is for Idaho to be a “no-kill” state by 2025. Board President Jan Main says, “While in Blaine County we’ve made great strides in animal welfare, much of our state is still struggling, with thousands of adoptable animals being euthanized every year. We have the opportunity to make a huge difference.”

“No-kill” is a common phrase used by animal lovers and animal welfare groups, but isn’t always fully understood. According to Best Friends Animal Society, one of the nation’s leading and best-known animal organizations, “No-kill pet shelters and organizations only euthanize animals who are irremediably suffering and a veterinarian has determined the animal has no chance of recovering an acceptable quality of life, or the animal’s behavior doesn’t allow him/her to be a candidate for rehabilitation. They do not kill pets as a means of population control. The benchmark to achieving no-kill is when a community saves at least 90 percent of the homeless animals it takes in.” The Animal Shelter meets this definition of no-kill and is proud to have a consistent annual save rate of between 96-98%, well above the 90% benchmark.

In 1999, the Animal Shelter of Wood River Valley became the first shelter in the state of Idaho to adopt no-kill policies. In the first decade after this resolution, the shelter still struggled with its population and the resources necessary to humanely house and treat all the animals. It saw a dramatic increase in its save rate, from a shockingly low 68% in 1982 when the shelter first opened its doors, to an average of 88% in the decade after its commitment to become no-kill. It is only after dedicating the resources to hire a full-time veterinarian in 2006 and a certified trainer in 2009 that the shelter was able to get above the 90% benchmark, finally reaching 94% in 2008 and staying at or above that point every year since.

The organization is committed to placing healthy and safe animals into the community and continues to improve its practices and training to achieve this important goal. Shelter staff have been trained extensively by national experts in behavior evaluation in addition to receiving professional accreditation. To date in 2017, the Animal Shelter has euthanized a total of 15 animals (8 dogs for dangerous/aggressive behavior and 3 dogs and 4 cats for untreatable illness) out of the 488 available for placement, putting the organization on track to achieve a 97% save rate again this year. According to Main, continuing to improve the health and well-being of shelter animals, in addition to being able to save more pets from overcrowded regional shelters, are among the primary goals of building the new campus.

The definition of “no-kill” is not universally agreed upon in the animal welfare world, with some believing that euthanasia for any reason is unacceptable. When asked why their definition allows for euthanasia in certain circumstances, Animal Shelter Executive and Medical Director Jo-Anne Dixon (who is also the staff veterinarian) says, “We strongly believe in being a humane organization – that means sometimes we have to make hard decisions in the best interest of an animal and/or the community. In the case of aggressive animals, we make every reasonable effort to give them the benefit of the doubt and have highly trained staff who evaluate and work with them. However, we are not always able to save them – and when it comes down to protecting the community, we cannot in good conscience place into homes animals we know have a bite history or are a significant bite risk. Children are the most at risk of dog bites – failing to fulfill our legal and moral responsibility would put people at risk and jeopardize our ability help the hundreds of other adoptable animals we are saving every year.” According to Dixon, there is research and data from national experts that help her staff determine if an animal can be rehabilitated or not and they have a detailed process for making such determinations.

There are many shelters in the state that are still struggling with pet overpopulation and are forced to euthanize healthy, adoptable animals every year. According to Dr. Dixon, “Every time I talk with staff at other shelters who are having to euthanize adoptable pets regularly, it’s clear this is a huge burden on them emotionally – no one wants euthanasia to be the solution for pet overpopulation. We have the opportunity to help them, both by acting as a relief valve when they are overcrowded, but more importantly, by providing information, training, and resources so they can move toward the no-kill model.”

The Animal Shelter’s success in decreasing local pet overpopulation and increasing annual adoptions is a model Dixon believes other shelters can emulate. She says, “Since we started the free community spay/neuter program available for all Blaine County pets, the local stray population has decreased by 50%. At the same time, the number of animals being adopted from us by families has doubled. There are concrete things we can teach other shelters so they share this success.” According to the Animal Shelter’s website, 629 animals were adopted by families and 863 spay/neuter surgeries were performed by the group in 2016.

The other organizational goal adopted by the Animal Shelter’s board of directors is meant to support the goal of making Idaho a more humane state. They are positioning the Animal Shelter to be a “national animal welfare resource for adoptions, donations, educational and volunteer opportunities, and collaboration, while maintaining comprehensive local services for Blaine County.”

Dr. Dixon says, “The new animal adoption and education center we are building will enable us to be an amazing resource for our community, the state, and beyond. This is a critical step to making Idaho a no-kill state, while being a tremendous asset for Blaine County, bringing people from all over to enjoy our local community.”

To learn more about the animal adoption and education center under construction, visit To learn more about the Shelter’s no-kill policy click here.

Happy Howl-o-ween!

Oct 2017

Happy Howl-o-ween! Wondering how to keep Fido safe for the holiday? Check out this handy-dandy cheat sheet below!

(Need an engraved ID tag for your pet? We sell them at the Shelter!)

Volunteer Spotlight: Jen Barth

Oct 2017

Jen started volunteering when she moved here from California as a way to meet like-minded animal folks. She fell in love with the Shelter and fellow volunteers right away. Jen’s skills are diverse in her volunteering- from assisting with our humane education programs to walking dogs and bringing them to visit senior centers, to making elaborate costumes for photoshoots, Jen makes every day a little bit brighter for both Shelter pets and staff!

Feeling Blessed

Oct 2017

We want to send a big thank you to all the volunteers who came out to the Blessing of the Animals this weekend! There was a great turnout and fun was had by all. Check out the pictures below. Want to stay updated on all things Animal Shelter? Sign-up for our e-blast for featured adoptables, events, and more! Click here to sign-up.