WAIF celebrates volunteer efforts

WAIF celebrated 17 years of operation in 2007, and the year proved to be challenging and exciting for the private, nonprofit animal shelter, said Pamela Hill-Keeva, board president.

The Whidbey Animals’ Improvement Foundations’ annual report delivered a recent Monday evening in Freeland celebrated year-end highlights, including the 16,800 hours of volunteer time spent walking dogs, cleaning cages and working at the Freeland and Oak Harbor thrift stores, an 81 percent adoption rate for dogs, 93 percent adoption rate for cats, 702 spayed and neutered animals and the 97 animals that were placed in foster care that year.

WAIF ended the year with a surplus of over $90,000 in 2007, board member Don Rowan said during the Dec. 15 meeting.

“This has turned out to be an OK year,” he said, adding that thrift store sales are up.

“Nordy may not get the good business, but we will,” he joked, referring to slow sales at high-end Nordstrom’s stores.

But WAIF does not expect to end 2008 with a surplus, he said, citing the economy, the increasing cost of utilities and the recent hiring of Executive Director Stephen Paysse.

The shelter continued its operation without an executive director through most of 2007, a challenge to the organization, Hill-Keeva said.

“If is wasn’t for the dedicated staff and volunteers who spent thousands of tireless hours caring for the animals in our charge, WAIF may not have survived,” she wrote in the report.

Paysse said he is currently working with the Navy to move its animal shelter facility into a larger building equipped with a restroom. Employees and volunteers must use a portable toilet at the current shelter located on the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station’s Seaplane Base.

Progress continues on plans for the new Coupeville shelter, he said. The water well, well pump, utilities and water pipes were installed in 2007, and 90 percent of the schematic design phase was completed.

Board member Susan Cohen is heading the eight-member shelter committee, which will oversee plans for the new Coupeville facility. A sign marks the location of the new site, located north of the existing facility on Highway 20.

The modern facility will have more space, better facilities and allow for more programs, said Paysse.

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