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Quincy Animal Shelter works to address community’s large need

by GABRIEL DAVIS
Staff Writer | April 26, 2024 1:30 AM

QUINCY — The Quincy Animal Shelter is one of only a handful of shelters with larger facilities in Grant and Adams County, alongside Adams County Pet Rescue and Grant County Animal Outreach, and faces the same issues other shelters in the area do.

The shelter’s manager, Jessica Kiehn, spoke about the facility’s operations and dealing with increasing numbers of stray animals across the Columbia Basin.

“As far as Quincy specifically, there's a huge stray dog issue; dogs are just running around in packs at this point, dogs that are owned, dogs that are not owned,” she said. “Most of them are unaltered and not fixed.”

The Quincy Animal Shelter is housed in a newer facility built in 2016 by the city of Quincy. 

“We are different from other shelters in the county because we're not a nonprofit. We're a city-run shelter, so we are responsible for our area,” Kiehn said. “We certainly get calls from all over Grant County and beyond.”

The shelter takes surrenders when space is available, but Kiehn said they try to keep space open for strays. She said Quincy does not currently have an animal control officer, but the Quincy Police Department does handle dog pick-ups.

According to Kiehn, the facility holds 20 dog kennels, which does not adequately meet the current space needs for strays and surrenders in Quincy – she said Grant County deals with similar problems.

“I tell people all the time, if we had 80 kennels, we would still be full,” she said. “We have other rescues we work with to find a place for some of those animals if they're not necessarily adoptable; we just network a lot that way with local places, but we also do transfers to the West Side, to Seattle shelters.”

Kiehn said the shelter is often left with larger breeds and adult dogs despite these transfers to other facilities, as they will only take the shelter’s most adoptable dogs. Huskies, pitbulls and German shepherds are the breeds that stay at the shelter the longest, she said, much like at Adams County Pet Rescue. 

“They make great pets when they're trained correctly, but we get the ones that are not trained, not socialized,” Kiehn said. “Then we have to put time into trying to turn them around and making them adoptable and … we're just spread really thin throughout the day, so it's hard to focus on the training part and be consistent to help them become more adoptable and then the longer they sit here kind of the worse they (get), so that's definitely an issue.”

Kiehn said the shelter is considered a no-kill shelter, and only euthanizes severely injured animals or animals with a low quality of life.

“We can't fundraise because we're not set up the way a non-profit is set up,” she said. “We have our budget and we just know how far that goes, which is not always very far considering the cost of vet care these days.”

Kiehn said that the shelter, which operates within Quincy city limits, took in 700 animals in 2022, including kittens, puppies and animals transferred to the shelter. She said the shelter was not able to take in as many animals in 2023 due to staffing difficulties.

“We had a lot of turnover for staffing last year,” she said. “It just takes a while, the hiring process does, so at one point for a few weeks it was just me here last year.”

Currently, the shelter employs four full-time staff members, including Kiehn. Dealing with incoming strays and vet care often takes time away from staff’s ability to interact with the dogs they are holding, Kiehn said.

Similarly to other regional shelters, Quincy is also dealing with the end of Washington State University’s spay and neutering services, which would come directly to shelters. Adams County Pet Rescue, for example, has been forced to keep dogs longer, until they can be spayed or neutered. Kiehn said the Quincy shelter has not been able to find a suitable low-cost replacement for spaying and neutering services in Eastern Washington and may end up turning to less accessible West Side agencies. 

Kiehn said she would also like to be able to do more education in the community about the importance of spaying and neutering.

“We've done a couple of things,” she said. “We do some of the community events, like the Farmer Consumer Awareness (Day) and we've gone to farmers markets with animals and fliers. I've done an event with the school for the fifth-grade job fair type of thing.”

Education programs take time and money, things the shelter does not have a surplus of.

“I think we just have the same problem as anywhere,” she said. “I think it's a national problem right now … We're not a high kill state, like some places, so, that's really, really nice, but it's still getting to the point where it's like, ‘Where are all these dogs supposed to go?’ There's nowhere to put all of these dogs. There's not enough homes, good homes for these animals.”

Gabriel Davis may be reached at gdavis@columbiabasinherald.com.

Quincy Animal Shelter

213 6th Ave. N.E.
Quincy, WA 98848

Hours:

Mon. - Fri.: 12 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Sat. and Sun.: by appointment


    Quincy Animal Shelter Manager Jessica Kiehn greets a pair of puppies in one of the shelter’s yards. Kiehn said she has been running the shelter for about three years now.
 
 
    Exterior of the Quincy Animal Shelter, located at 213 6th Ave. N.E. The facility was built around 2016, according to shelter Manager Jessica Kiehn, and can hold about 20 dogs, not counting puppies.
 
 
    Quincy Animal Shelter Manager Jessica Kiehn attempts to hold an adult husky still. The dog is one of two (both adults and larger breeds) who have been at the shelter for more than a year and a half.
 
 
    A row of outdoor kennels at the Quincy Animal Shelter connected to the dog’s indoor spaces, used for taking dogs out into one of the shelter’s yards.
 
 
    A cat sleeps in a bed inside the Quincy Animal Shelter, which can hold a number of cats in smaller compartments in addition to the shelter’s 20 dog kennels.