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Hours 12:00 pm - 5 pm
Tuesday - Saturday

1105 Clark Fork Drive
Missoula, MT 59808
406-549-3934
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Staff/Board | Employment information | FAQs | Shelter Statistics | Animal Talk Newsletter

About Us - FAQs

Q: Where do the animals in your shelter come from?

A: Most of the animals we take in are from the Missoula area. We accept animals from all over western Montana and sometimes even from neighboring states. In fact, about 40% of the animals we take in are from outside of the city limits. Our policy is to accept any animal brought to us, for any reason, at any time.

Q: How many animals do you receive each year, and what happens to them?

A: In the year 2000, we received 1757 animals. About 35% are dogs and 65% are cats. Less than one percent is rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, mice, rats, etc. That same year we adopted or returned 55% of the animals we received. Those that were not adopted, returned, or rehabilitated were euthanized.

Q: How long do you keep animals?

A: We keep all animals as long as we have space, and as long as the animal remains physically and emotionally healthy. For some, that could be six months, for some it could be six days. We do not have a set amount of time. Each animal is handled on a case by case basis. As soon as an animal shows signs of extreme stress or distress, we either find a foster home, get the animal into a training program, or euthanize. We will not let an animal languish in its kennel longer than what is humane.

Q: Why do you euthanize animals, and how do you decide which ones to put to sleep?

A: Out of the 776 animals that were euthanized last year, only 168 were put to sleep because of a lack of space. Dogs are most commonly euthanized because of aggression, or severe behavioral problems. Cats are most commonly euthanized because of a lack of space. The staff of Animal Caretakers makes the decisions as to which animals will be euthanized. These decisions are not taken lightly, and we first explore other options like fostering or training.

Q: Who euthanizes the animals and how is it done?

A: A few members of our staff are trained and certified euthanasia technicians. They receive their license through the Idaho Board of Veterinary Medicine. The State of Montana does not require that technicians be certified, but we feel it is very important that our staff receives this training. Animals are euthanized by an injection of sodium pentobarbital which does not cause the animal any pain or suffering. It is method considered most humane, as it doesn’t cause the animal any pain. The animal is held and comforted and it takes only seconds for the drug to take effect. All animals are given absolute compassion and respect throughout the process. We are the last contact they will have and we want them to feel loved and safe.

Q. Why aren’t you aren’t a no-kill shelter?

A: This is a very controversial topic. The reason The Missoula Humane Society chooses not to be “no kill” is because there really is no such thing as “no kill.” Some “no kill” shelters simply don’t accept animals once they are full. As a result, animals are either dumped in the streets, or left at another shelter which is forced to handle all of the euthanasia. Some shelters only euthanize “unadoptable” animals. The problem is that there is no agreed upon definition of “unadoptable.” These shelters often still euthanize as much as 50% of their dogs and cats, but still say they are “no kill,” because they didn’t euthanize any “adoptable,” animals. Some shelters don’t euthanize and still accept new animals. These shelters often become over-crowded and disease ridden. Animals are sometimes kept so long, that they become “kennel crazy,” showing extreme signs of distress. They pace or circle inside their kennels, become overly protective and aggressive, or quit eating. At our shelter, we fall in the middle of the spectrum. We keep animals as long as we can, but not indefinitely. Keeping animals physically and emotionally healthy is of utmost importance to us. It is important to us to remain open to ALL animals that need us.

Q: Where does your money come from?

A: The Missoula Humane Society is privately funded by people that care about the plight of homeless animals. We receive no government funding nor do we have any contractual relationship with any city or county agency. We have three fund-raising events each year, send two direct mail appeals, receive grant funding, and charge a fee for adoption. We also rely on memberships, cage sponsorships, bequests, honorariums and memorials.

Q: What is the difference between you and Missoula Animal Control?

A: We are a privately funded non-profit organization run by a board of directors. Missoula City/County Animal Control is funded by the government. We accept all animals brought to us, and Missoula Animal Control accepts only stray dogs. They have the ability to enforce animal control regulations within the city and county.

Q: I don’t have much money, but I’d like to help. What can I do?

A: You can become a volunteer. You can also collect old blankets, towels, rags, and newspapers. You could also hold a garage sale, a dog wash, a car wash, or a food drive.

Q: I’ve heard its hard to adopt from your shelter, is that true?

A: We are not a pet store so adopting takes more time than simply making a purchase. We do try and make the adoption process as friendly and enjoyable as possible. Adopting a new friend can take anywhere from an hour, to overnight or even a few days. Bringing a new family member home is a serious commitment and it is worth taking the time to make sure the decision is a good one. After all, this new friend will be with you for many years to come. As for our policies, we are flexible on almost everything. The only two things we simply can’t make exceptions for is our mandatory spay/neuter policy and getting the O.K. from your landlord.

Q: So how does the process work?

A: First, visit the shelter and fill out a Matchmaking form. Using the form (which tells us all about you and you’re the qualities you are seeking in a companion) we will help match you with the best pet for your lifestyle. After the family has spent time with the animal, we will sit down with you and answer any questions you may have about integrating your new friend to your household and your family. If your new friend still needs to be spayed or neutered, she/he will have to go straight a local vet clinic before she/he goes home.

Q: Do you treat injured and sick animals? Do you have a vet on staff?

A: No, we do not have a vet on staff at this time. We are able to vaccinate, perform some diagnostic tests, and administer medications. If an animal is in need of treatment, blood tests, x-rays, or surgery we take them to a local veterinarian. Just because an animal is sick or injured, does not mean they will be euthanized. Through our special Emily Kantor memorial medical fund we are able to treat almost anything.


Missoula Humane Society • 1105 Clark Fork Drive, Missoula, Montana 59808 • 406-549-3934