In 1988, the non-profit Northwest Organization for Animal Help (N.O.A.H.) opened its doors at the original animal shelter location on Camano Island. Over the next 10 years, N.O.A.H. staff and volunteers worked diligently to help animals in the community. At the height of the program in 1998, adoptions reached 452 (326 dogs and 126 cats) for the year. Adopted animals over the age of six months were spayed or neutered by a local veterinarian though with no in-house spay/neuter facilities, the overall impact on pet overpopulation was limited.
In late 1998 when the building's septic system failed, the decision was made to close N.O.A.H. and begin fundraising for a new facility that N.O.A.H. would own. The Board of Directors purchased 17 acres off Interstate-5 for $120,000 where The NOAH Center is located today.
N.O.A.H.'s efforts caught the attention of a pair of local philanthropists who cared deeply about animals and wanted to help a worthy group advance its efforts. The couple joined the N.O.A.H. Board, pledging to fund the shelter's construction. They also began researching best shelter practices around the country and Canada. They toured facilities and met with numerous Executive Directors. Soon a lists of Do's and Don'ts emerged on how to best help animals in crisis. Those tested ideas and best practices provided the foundation for the new N.O.A.H.
Rather than duplicating the "owner surrender/adoption" model of the other six shelters in Snohomish County, N.O.A.H.'s Board of Directors decided on an innovative approach. They wanted to address the critical question, "How can we save animals whose time has run out at overcrowded shelters?". The decision was made to restrict our intake to shelter transfers, giving the healthy and adoptable animals from other shelters the time they needed to find new homes.
Over the next year while the new facility was under construction, partnerships and working relationships were established with the local shelters. The shelters that euthanized the most animals were the ones that NOAH focused on helping the most. We put no geographic boundaries on our services other than targeting our own county and our three neighboring counties of Skagit, Whatcom, and Island. Our goal: Stop the euthanasia of healthy adoptable animals in Northwest Washington by "Building a Bond for Life" between pets and their families.
In May 2003, the new facility opened its doors to the community. Today, the unique, appealing and highly visible facility is seen by an average of 52,000 vehicles passing by each day on Interstate-5. Our ever changing electronic reader board "communicates" with the public about our current programs, volunteer opportunities and donation needs for the animals.
A New Approach
The NOAH Center's innovative programs and approach to helping cats and dogs in Washington have made a significant impact on animals within our community and across the entire state.
Although more animals need our help, we are proud of our accomplishments since opening in May of 2003:
• TRANSFER PROGRAM: Through our 35 partnerships with animal shelters, we have saved the lives of over 26,000 dogs and cats.
• ADOPTION PROGRAM: Family friendly pet adoptions and a one-on-one interview process with professionally trained Match Makers have allowed us to adopt and find forever homes for over 26,000 cats and dogs.
• SPAY / NEUTER PROGRAM: Over 75,000 spay/neuter surgeries have been performed for pets of low-income families. Our clinic has been ranked as one of the top in number of spay/neuter operations performed in the state.
• FOSTER: Over 4,500 cats, kittens, nursing female dogs, puppies and special need animals have been saved through our Foster Care program. Our devoted and hardworking foster families provide a loving and safe environment to care for underage animals.
• VOLUNTEERS: Our well structured volunteer program was designed to create a valuable community resource for learning, uniting and service. On average, 30 to 40 volunteers are on-site daily to support the critical operations of The NOAH Center. Annually, over 400 individuals dedicate their time to help the animals.