Humane societies to merge on July 1

The Willamette Humane Society (WHS) will merge into Oregon Humane Society (OHS) on July 1, creating one organization. The process is expected to take up to 24 months to complete. Though the Salem location will retain its name for the short term, it will eventually be known as Oregon Humane Society

The work of both humane societies is changing with an increased need to care for animals who need complex medical needs and behavior rehabilitation.  

A merger allows for more collaboration, along with enhanced purchasing power. As a much larger organization spread across two campus locations, OHS will use the same software, phone systems, email management systems, and more. Those cost savings could directly impact their ability to serve the community.

Pets will also directly benefit from the collaboration. Willamette Humane Society currently transfers pets with complex issues to OHS as needed, to ensure that animals get the help they need to move on to happy lives. But those transfers require conversations, paperwork, planning and time. A merger will allow the two communities to collaborate much more quickly and efficiently. 

“I am very excited about what this change means for our community,” said WHS executive director BJ Andersen. “I anticipate that we’ll have even more resources available to help and protect the pets in Oregon, and that’s something we all can celebrate.”

In 2020, the WHS Board of Directors chose to explore the possibility of a merger as the best path forward to be able offer more state of the art animal welfare services to the community, while also building organizational resilience and sustainability. The global pandemic delayed the process a bit. After exploring all possible partners for a merger, they settled on OHS as their top choice, and WHS initiated the conversation with OHS in early 2021. Both organizations began the due diligence process and continued discussions between WHS and OHS leadership until both boards were satisfied that this was the right decision for each organization. The boards unanimously agreed to proceed with the merge earlier this year.

In recent years, other animal welfare agencies around the nation have chosen to merge, in an effort to cut overhead costs and streamline services.