Our Story

Founded in 1868 by noted humanitarian Thomas Lamb Eliot, Oregon Humane Society is one of the oldest and most respected animal welfare organizations in the United States. 

With campuses in Portland and Salem, we are working toward our vision of a world where all animals are treated with compassion, kindness, and respect. 

Humane, First and Foremost

Oregon Humane Society is the largest animal welfare organization in the Northwest, with campuses in Salem and Portland, including a new Community Veterinary Hospital. OHS offers a wide variety of services from pet adoption, training, humane law enforcement, veterinary care, humane education, and disaster response.

OHS puts no time limits on how long animals remain at the shelter—a pet stays available for adoption as long as needed to find a loving home. If a pet in our care needs medical attention, the medical team provides that pet with the same level of care you would want your own pet to receive.

Our Mission Statement

Creating a More Humane Society.

Our Vision Statement

A world where all animals are treated with compassion, kindness and respect.

  • OHS finds homes for more than 11,000 pets each year.
  • The OHS medical team provides free and low-cost spay and neuter surgeries for thousands of pets owned by low-income families.
  • OHS educators reach more than 12,000 youths and about 2,000 adults annually through humane education programs.
  • The OHS Second Chance program brings more than 6,000 pets annually to OHS from other shelters around the region.
  • In the state capitol, OHS is the driving force behind efforts to improve laws that protect animals and punish offenders.
  • OHS Humane Special Agents are commissioned by the Oregon State Police to enforce animal cruelty and neglect laws around the state.


Be compassionate. Act with compassion, care, and kindness for all people and animals. This is what brings us together and inspires our work.

Behaviors that reflect the values of Compassion: Be thoughtful of others’ feelings, be generous with praise, be a good listener, show empathy for others’ life situations, and avoid gossip and other unprofessional behaviors.


Celebrate each other. Our community—our OHS teams, partners, and the public—is what makes us great. Collaboration through teamwork allows us to serve our common vision and engage in meaningful work for the benefit of all.

Behaviors that reflect the values of Community: Strive for service excellence, seek to understand, be welcoming and inclusive, collaborate together for the best outcome, display a spirit of cooperation, act and make decisions with the mission and vision in mind.


Be respectful. Diversity in people, ideas, and experiences makes us stronger. Equity, inclusivity, and openness bring positive energy and create a respectful workplace.

Behaviors that reflect the values of Respect: Listen to ideas with an open mind, communicate frequently and directly, exhibit and encourage trust, treat others with dignity, assume best intentions, and place value in each other’s worth, individuality, and experiences.


Act with integrity. We are ethical and honest in our interactions, actions, and decisions.

Behaviors that reflect the values of Integrity: Be trustworthy and follow through on commitments; be transparent and honest without compromising our commitment to confidentiality; when communicating with others, strive to always do the right thing; be fair.


Take ownership. We have the responsibility to OHS staff, animals, donors, and the community to operate ethically, efficiently, and fiscally responsible in all that we do.

Behaviors that reflect the values of Accountability: Be financially responsible, follow through on commitments, acknowledge if you make an error, apologize when appropriate, do your best every day, and give credit where it’s due.


Embrace progress. We create an environment where all ideas are welcome, and each person is encouraged to be creative and think beyond the status quo.

Behaviors that reflect the values of Innovation: Try new things and take risks, be curious, participate enthusiastically in creative problem solving, strive for constant improvement, see challenges as opportunities.

  • OHS does not receive any portion of dues or donations paid to national organizations.
  • OHS is an Oregon nonprofit that relies on donations.
  • OHS operates independently of any other shelter group.
  • View our financial information, including annual reports and audited statements.

Striving to create a more humane society, Oregon Humane Society Portland Campus sits upon land that was home to the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin, and many other tribes who made their homes near the Columbia River. Oregon Humane Society Salem Campus sits upon land that was home to the Kalapuya, Ahantchuyuk, Santiam, Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other tribes who made their homes near the Willamette or Santiam Rivers. Indigenous peoples have inhabited these areas for at least 11,000 years.

We at the Oregon Humane Society are grateful for the ongoing and vibrant presence of the many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. The Native peoples’ deep understanding of the natural world teaches us to live in harmony with the land, the animals, and each other. We honor the enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous peoples and this occupied land. 

We also wish to acknowledge the suffering caused by systemic policies of genocide, relocation, disenfranchisement, and assimilation that even today continue to impact the lives of many Native individuals and families, and the animals that have lived alongside them. 

The mission of the Oregon Humane Society is to Create a More Humane Society.

Central to this mission is our belief in diversity and inclusivity in all aspects of our work and service. A broad lens of equity and diversity has a positive impact on the animals in our care, and helps us better serve clients, employees, volunteers and our entire community.

We also believe that Black Lives Matter, and we join with those fighting for change and raising their voice. We believe that no one should be judged on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, ability or level of income.

We believe in collaboration with other organizations and institutions within the community to help achieve the equity to which all humans are entitled.

Our commitment begins by looking inward at our hiring practices, workplace policies, accessibility of our services and approaches to marketing and organizational culture.

Oregon Humane Society is not just about compassion for animals. It’s about who we are at the core, how we treat other people and standing up for what is right.

“No-kill” is typically defined as a shelter with at least a 90% save rate. The OHS save rate is 98%, certainly fitting the definition. However, OHS does not refer to itself as a “no-kill” shelter because the term does little to help the public understand the decisions a shelter must make in caring for pets.

Some shelters that use the term “no-kill” admit only the healthiest of pets and do not face the challenge of treating and rehabilitating ill animals. A county shelter, on the other hand, must accept every pet that comes to its door, including pets who are severely ill or dangerously aggressive. At OHS, about half of the pets admitted meet the nationally recognized standard of “healthy.” The remaining pets require medical and/or behavior treatment, sometimes for weeks or months. We are committed, however, to providing the same standard of care for pets at our shelter that an owner would want for their personal pet. We never put time limits on how long pets remain available for adoption and we never euthanize pets for space reasons.

We believe the public is better served by looking at a shelter’s admission policy and overall treatment record, rather than relying on a vague term such as “no-kill.”

OHS has two locations, one in NE Portland, and one in SE Salem. With a state-of-the-art animal shelter, veterinary hospital, and behavior facility. OHS has been in its Portland location at 1067 NE Columbia Blvd. since 1918, but is now in its third-generation shelter building. Beginning in July 2022, OHS merged with Willamette Humane Society and established the OHS Salem Campus to serve more people and pets across Oregon.

The current 46,000 sq. foot shelter in Portland opened in 2000 and can care for 92 small animals, 120 cats and 120 dogs. The shelter features outdoor exercise areas and an extensive dog path through a wooded wetland. Visitors to the 10-acre campus will find an award-winning rose garden and the oldest pet cemetery west of the Mississippi (which hosts the grave of Bobbi of Silverton, a national sensation in the 1920s). There is also an education hall for classroom instruction, an live camera in the surgical center.

In 2007, OHS opened the adjoining 22,000 sq. foot Animal Medical Learning Center, consisting of the Holman Medical Center plus a behavior center that provides classes for the public. The medical center includes three surgical suites, on-site radiology, a pharmacy and multiple recovery rooms. in 2017, the 100,000th spay/neuter surgery was completed at the medical center.

Staff and Volunteers

OHS has more than 300 employees who are aided by approximately 2,800 volunteers. We are governed by a 22-member Board of Directors. Sharon Harmon is the OHS President and Chief Executive Officer. She has served in that capacity since 1998.