It’s about the animals

At its heart, the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society is an organization that does an incredible amount of good work in the Camas and Washougal communities.

The no-kill shelter located in the Port of Camas-Washougal Industrial Park is a nonprofit group funded mainly through donations. The city of Washougal also contracts with the dog shelter to provide space for dogs brought in by animal control.

Its cat shelter houses dozens of felines, and even more are in foster care until they can be adopted. Next door, the dog shelter provides a temporary home for canines brought in by animal control; other dogs receive care in foster homes as well.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of this organization. They help feed and care for the animals, make sure they get exercise and interaction with people, and assure that their cages, kennels and living spaces are clean and tidy. Many of the volunteers have been helping out for years.

But as with many non-profit organizations, this one has had its share of struggles and controversies over the years. The recent firing of the part-time paid shelter manager by the board of directors, and subsequent negative response to this action by some of the volunteers, is just one example.

Reports indicate that there were disagreements as to how the shelter was being run. And recent comments from volunteers and board members seem to point to there being a lack of communication within the organization —a fatal error when it comes to maintaining a highly functioning and dedicated volunteer group.

Without a doubt, changes need to happen with the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society if it is to continue to successfully operate in Camas-Washougal.

The volunteers and the current board members need to put petty arguments and personality conflicts aside and work out the issues. The board members need to make sure the volunteers’ concerns are heard and questions are clearly answered, and that they feel appreciated for all they do. Because in the end, it’s all about the animals, and making sure those that are unwanted have a place to stay until they can be adopted out to loving, caring homes. It would truly be tragic if the WCGHS wasn’t around to make sure that happens.