New animal placement nonprofit opens in Bellingham

In early April, an organization without an office or paid staff opened its metaphorical doors. Happy Tails Happy Homes, a volunteer-run, no-kill, nonprofit animal welfare organization, also operates without a kennel —  all of the homeless animals under the organization’s care stay with foster families until they are matched with permanent families.

The nonprofit, which is currently only taking dogs, was founded by Jeanne Sorensen, Vicki Niles and Nikki Larsen, all of whom recently volunteered for the Alternative Humane Society of Whatcom County.

“We love the Alternative Humane Society,” Sorensen said. “But we feel that by having two rescues in the same county we can help that many more pets and our motto is ‘no dog left behind.’”

There are just a lot of pets that need help, Sorensen said. Luckily, there are also a lot of people in Whatcom County who are willing to help them. Shortly after starting up, Happy Tails put an ad on Craigslist seeking foster families.

“We got a dozen (responses) right away,” Sorensen said.

Just two weeks after it began operations, Happy Tails had 22 foster families, including the three founders, but they are always looking for more. They take in animals from individuals and Humane Societies around the state that are at risk of being euthanized, and there is a seemingly never ending supply of those animals.

Happy Tails won’t take in all animals, though. They screen the animals and try to help those most in need. They are also selective about foster families, too, and try to place each animal in a living environment that’s healthy for it. And those foster families help in determining whether potential adoptive pet parents are a good match for the animals.

In addition to looking for more foster families, Happy Tails is looking for volunteers to drive animals to appointments, walk them, help with fundraising and logistics and to sit with animals at PetSmart showings two Saturdays every month.

They are also seeking donations. Happy Tails does not receive government funding and relies on donations. Some of the nonprofit’s major sponsors are Maplewood Animal Hospital, Canyon Creek Farms, The Country Store, PetSmart, Plush Pooch and Custer Kennels & Boarding.

For more information, visit www.happytailshappyhomes.com or call (360) 209-4450.

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