position statements

The Spokane Humane Society has developed animal welfare position statements that express our views regarding the appropriate treatment of animals. These positions are based on a belief that creatures deserve our respect, compassion, and consideration of their psychological and physical well-being. The position statements we’ve adopted are based on empirical evidence and scientific research that establishes animals’ capacity to feel pain and suffer.

Training methods

Spokane Humane Society supports humane training methods that are based on redirection and positive reinforcement to shape desired behaviors in companion animals. Methods of rewards such as food, praise, petting, and play that is based on mutual understanding, kindness, and respect between the pet and the guardian have proven to be successful in managing behavior. Spokane Humane Society opposes any methods, training tools, or aids that cause physical harm or profound discomfort to an animal. Training tools like e-collars, prong collars, or other re-directive, safety instruction methods are to be used only by individuals who are professionally coached and have knowledge about the animal’s needs and behaviors. (released, March 2022)

Animal fighting

The Spokane Humane Society condemns and opposes any activity or event in which animals are encouraged or allowed to fight another animal or a human. Included in these activities are dogfights, cockfights, bullfights, and bear wrestling.

Animals in give-aways or won in contests

Spokane Humane Society opposes any contest or auction which encourages the distribution of animals to any member of the public who is not knowledgeable or prepared to meet the specific needs of that animal. This includes dog auctions and fish and chick giveaways in any public forum such as fairs or carnivals.


Chemosterilants are contraceptive drugs or vaccines that pharmacologically block some component of an animal’s reproductive system, rendering them infertile—either permanently, or for a period of time. The Spokane Humane Society supports the ongoing research and potential utilization of safe and effective non-surgical methods of sterilization as an alternative to humane control of cat and dog overpopulation in remote, rural, or developing areas where resources for surgical sterilization are not available.

Exotics and novelty pets

Exotic pets are defined as non-traditional but commonly kept pets such as parrots, cockatiels, budgerigars, snakes, lizards, frogs, turtles, gerbils, hamsters, ferrets, rabbits, and others. Novelty pets are marketed and sold by retailers as trends or holiday fads. The Spokane Humane Society opposes the retail sale or purchase of any animals on impulse or because they are part of a trend or holiday season fad. Many reptiles, birds, fish, and amphibians end up dying or being relinquished due to improper care and a lack of understanding of the often expensive and intricate housing and husbandry needs of non-traditional pets. We encourage anyone interested in owning a non-traditional pet to thoroughly research the care and husbandry of that animal and its origin, and to ensure that there is an accessible veterinarian capable of meeting that pet’s medical needs.

Wildlife and wildlife hybrids

The Spokane Humane Society supports policies to protect as many wild species from exploitation/extinction with emphasis on endangered or threatened species native to the United States. The Spokane Humane Society strongly condemns any wild animal or wild animal hybrid being captured, bred, or kept as a pet. (This includes primates, big cats, bears, kinkajous, wallabies, etc.) In cases where wild animals are confiscated by wildlife officials or cases where wild animals are found injured, we supports efforts of certified wildlife rehabilitators to care for these animals in accordance with local and federal legislation regarding the management of wildlife species.

Housing for companion animals

While the Spokane Humane Society supports and encourages cats and dogs to be kept indoors as loved and integral members of the family, we recognize that some cats and dogs are maintained as outdoor pets for livestock guardianship or rodent control. Outdoor pets are exposed to many dangers from weather, predators, neglect, cruelty from people, parasites and disease. Any outdoor pet should be cared for and protected from any of these threats by ensuring appropriate environments that include proper housing, nutrition, and medical care. These animals should also be permanently identified as a member of the family with some form of visible identification and a microchip.

Food animals

The Spokane Humane Society supports and encourages the efforts of Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC), the first USDA approved certification program to advertise to consumers those food producers that follow humane animal care guidelines. The Spokane Humane Society accepts the husbandry of animals for human consumption, provided that the production methods are in compliance with best practices for humane and ethical food production. We condemn practices such as close confinement, restricting mobility, overcrowding, extreme temperatures, light deprivation, and any other practices that limit or prevent animals from engaging in species-typical behaviors. The Spokane Humane Society believes that food production managers and caretakers should be well educated, skilled, and competent in their field. We believe that any animal, including those intended for consumption should be free from hunger, thirst, malnutrition, physical discomfort, pain, injury, and disease and that every animal should be free to express normal behavior. Those animals destined for slaughter should receive considerate handling, transport and a humane and pain-free death.

Urban wildlife

The Spokane Humane Society supports and encourages cooperation among community, state, and federal wildlife regulatory agencies and community organizers, such as architects, researchers, city planners and educators, to highlight and maximize the benefits wildlife have on urban communities. The Society recognizes that problems can arise between humans and wildlife in urban areas. We believe that discouraging contact with wildlife, specifically the feeding of wildlife in urban areas may help to reduce some of these conflicts. The Spokane Humane Society advocates for humane trapping and relocation as an alternative to lethal control methods/options and encourages cooperation between government and sanctioned wildlife management officials.


The Spokane Humane Society condemns the use of leg-hold or body gripping traps by any individual or agency in order to capture wildlife.

Selling or transfer of animals for research (pound seizure)

Pound seizure is the practice of animal shelters forcibly or voluntarily relinquishing or selling their animals to researchers for experimentation. The Spokane Humane Society condemns this practice and believes that any institution dedicated to the welfare of animals should not relinquish animals in their care for scientific research. Shelters are highly valued institutions that serve as a second chance for many household pets. Through the practice of selling or giving former pets or stray animals to research institutions, the efforts of all animal welfare groups are undermined. Pound seizure is still legal in over twenty-five states, we support abolishing pound seizure practices in the U.S. and abroad.

Pet overpopulation and spay/neuter

To reduce overpopulation, Spokane Humane Society strongly recommends all pet owners spay/neuter their animals. We support, encourage and participate in spay and neuter programs, and Trap Neuter Release (TNR) programs. We also support and practice early-age spay and neuter and mandatory pre-adoption sterilization programs. Over three million healthy cats and dogs are euthanized in United States’ animal shelters each year due to overpopulation. At least double that amount roam free, continuing to reproduce and contributing to pet overpopulation. There are over six million cats and dogs entering shelters in the United States each year. Studies have shown that the most effective method of reducing pet overpopulation is to increase the number of owned cats and dogs that are spayed or neutered. Every animal adopted from the Spokane Humane Society will be spayed or neutered before being adopted. Spaying and neutering at-risk, free-roaming, and feral populations of cats and dogs has also proven to reduce the numbers of cats and dogs entering shelters and ultimately those euthanized.

Prepubescent neutering and spaying

Spokane Humane Society supports early-age sterilization of all shelter animals. Spaying and neutering prior to adoption of puppies and kittens is essential for controlling pet overpopulation and decreasing the number of animals entering shelters. The Society supports pre-adoption and early age sterilization on cats and dogs over eight weeks of age and weighing a minimum of two pounds.

Puppy mills and mass breeding

Spokane Humane Society opposes “puppy mills,” for-profit facilities which mass-produce puppies for retail purposes. These facilities routinely subject animals to adverse conditions, such as overcrowding and inadequate sanitation, food, water, socialization, and veterinary care. Sub-standard breeding practices often lead to genetic defects or hereditary disorders, and these defects along with other health issues and/or negative behavioral traits are often overlooked in favor of financial profit. We oppose the mass breeding of puppies for profit and the purchase of these puppies by pet stores or internet retailers.

Companion animal transport

Spokane Humane Society supports the practice of safe and humane transportation for all animal passengers. This includes placement of animal passengers in secured carriers or harnesses, as long as animal passengers are provided sufficient space, frequent stops for exercise, appropriate amounts food and water, a comfortable environmental temperature, and good air quality. Before an animal passenger participates in commercial air or ground travel, we support following interstate or international companion animal travel requirements. These include ensuring good health and proper immunization status prior to travel.

Companion animal identification and microchipping

The Spokane Humane Society supports and encourages implanted microchips in companion animals. When combined with visible identification tags, microchips have proven to be the most reliable method of reuniting lost or stray animals with their human companions. We support and encourage efforts to implement universal (ISO standard) microchips in companion animals and the utilization of universal microchip scanners. The Spokane Humane Society supports the use of collars and visible ID tags and urges owners to monitor collars for proper fit and safety from potential entrapment hazards of collars.

Animals in circuses

The Spokane Humane Society is opposed to using wild or exotic animals in circuses, carnivals, or other traveling shows. Animals used in traveling shows are often confined to small cages that not only limit mobility and make it difficult or impossible to engage in species-typical behaviors, but the unnatural and exploitative nature of these shows often inflict undue stress, neglect, and isolation on animals that are wild in nature. Many traveling shows are unregulated and have historically led to animal abuse, human-animal conflict and death. The unregulated breeding of wild and exotic animals in circuses or traveling shows also leads to surplus animals that end up in the black market animal trade, canned hunting arenas, or other unfortunate environments.

Greyhound racing

The Spokane Humane Society opposes greyhound racing and any other animal racing industry that places animals in danger for profit. The greyhound racing industry has been afflicted with poor ethics, from medicating racing dogs to enhance performance to inhumanely killing and disposing of retired racing dogs. The sport of greyhound racing is inherently cruel and we support any legal effort to stop this inhumane practice.

Assistance animals

Assistance animals are specially trained companion animals that assist individuals with physical, visual, or hearing limitations. The Spokane Humane Society endorses, supports, and encourages this unique example of the human–animal bond. As with any companion animal, proper training techniques (see our position on training techniques) should be utilized for assistance animals, and all their medical, physical, and psychological needs should be met by their human companion or caregiver.

Working animals (drug dogs, police dogs, search and rescue dogs)

The Spokane Humane Society supports the use of working animals only when they are properly trained and humanely treated. It is important to the Spokane Humane Society that any working animal in a potentially dangerous occupation be afforded every consideration for their safety and be provided with protective equipment when necessary. The society believes that no working animal should be asked to perform solo duties that are certain to result in serious injury or death. As with any companion animal, working animals should have all their medical, physical, and psychological needs met by their human companion or caregiver and should extend beyond their period of service.

Breed-specific legislation

Spokane Humane Society opposes breed-specific legislation, as it has proven to be an ineffective method to protect the public from vicious or dangerous dogs and penalizes responsible dog owners. Spokane Humane Society also opposes breed-specific regulations imposed by insurance companies and landlords that either disqualify or charge higher rates to owners with specific dog breeds. Breed bans (pure or mixed breed) and breed-specific legislation discriminate against certain types of dogs without regard to an individual dogs’ temperament or behavior. These laws establish prejudice and make it very difficult or impossible for animal shelters to place certain dog breeds. Spokane Humane Society believes responsible pet ownership and community involvement with animal welfare legislation are the most effective methods of ensuring pets and people coexist safely together.

Product testing

Spokane Humane Society supports development of new technologies that will reduce the need for animal testing. We believe that animals should be used only when there are no alternatives and the testing is believed likely to produce new and substantive information that will benefit human or animal health. We subscribe to the “three Rs principle” of Russell and Burch (1959): Refine experimentation, Reduce the number of animals needed, and Replace live animals with artificial models, computer programs, etc. whenever possible.

Domestic and companion animals

Companion animals are domesticated animals that have been selectively bred to live in a mutually beneficial relationship with humans. These animals are kept primarily for the purpose of companionship, and their physical, emotional, behavioral and social needs can be readily met in the home, or in close daily relationship with humans. Examples include dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, ferrets, birds, guinea pigs and other small mammals, small reptiles, and fish. Where they may be kept legally and responsibly, domestically bred farm animals such as goats, pigs, and sheep can also be considered companion animals. The Spokane Humane Society recognizes the legitimacy of the human–companion animal bond and believes that both people and animals benefit from this relationship. We support the ownership of companion animals only when there is adequate personal responsibility to ensure that these animals are cared for appropriately. The acquisition of a companion animal should be carefully considered by adults who are committed to meeting all basic needs and providing compassionate care for the lifetime of that animal.

Dog tethering

The Spokane Humane Society opposes tethering dogs, the practice of leaving dogs outside and unattended by use of a restraint such as a rope, chain or cord. Tethering exposes dogs to extreme temperatures, inclement weather, unreliable access to food, water, or shelter, and can cause injury or even death due to entanglement or strangulation. Dogs restrained in such ways may become aggressive due to constant confinement, lack of socialization with humans, and an inability to escape from danger.

Fur animals

Spokane Humane Society condemns the killing or farming of any animal for the exclusive use of its skin, pelt, or feathers for clothing or decoration.

Feral cat management

Feral cats are free-roaming domestic cats that have lost contact with humans or have never had contact with humans and have become unsocialized to human contact. Feral cat colonies are groups of feral cats living in close proximity to one another, reproducing freely and potentially threatening native wildlife populations or domestic animals through predation or disease. The Spokane Humane Society supports and participates in Trap Neuter Release (TNR) programs for feral cat populations. By capturing reproductively intact feral cats, sterilizing them, positively identifying them, and then returning them to their place of capture, feral cat populations can be safely managed and reduced. In areas where endangered or threatened prey species are not present, and in areas where feral cat colonies are not subject to harm or abuse and where there is community acceptance, the Spokane Humane Society advocates TNR programs and opposes euthanasia of free-roaming, disease-free feral cats.