50 Years of History & Looking to a Strong Future

Wenatchee Valley Humane Society (WVHS) was founded 50 years ago by an amazing woman, Gwyneth Mitchell. Gwyneth had a reputation for loving animals and for being a skilled leader.  She was a University of Washington graduate and a biologist for the Chelan-Douglas County Health Department.  

In 1966, she and other concerned citizens voiced their opinions about the conditions of what was then known as the Wenatchee City Dog Pound.  Their determination to improve conditions for unwanted animals in their community prevailed and, in 1967, Mitchell and her husband Bruce founded the WVHS.

They then convinced the city to allow them to take over the old “City Pound” and opened the first shelter in a small garage. It didn’t take long to outgrow the garage though. And, with the commitment they demonstrated while campaigning for a shelter, the Mitchells donated their apple orchard with 2 farmhouses on it and began a campaign to build a new shelter.  They held grassroots fundraisers, including bake sales and garage sales and were very successful. They opened the doors to the new shelter in 1988.

In 2009, Helen Zilke left nearly one million dollars to WVHS.  Her gift became the catalyst to replace the 27-year-old shelter with a larger, brighter, visitor-friendly shelter. This new space, brought to fruition by Helen's planned giving and many other generous supporters in our community, opened it's doors in June 2015. To express our gratitude, our new shelter features the Helen Zilke Memorial Garden with engraved tiles, bricks and pavers to honor pets and people.

But our story isn't over...In early 2016, WVHS received a generous bequest from Marjorie Watling.  Thanks to her, WVHS is looking to a sustainable future, including its own vet clinic. As we go forward as YOUR Wenatchee Valley Humane Society, we are working hard to become a resource center, providing valued education and needed services to our community, including spay and neuter programs and other resources that help keep people and their pets together.