Oregon Humane Society photo
A pet owner gives her dog a smooch at A Blooming Hill Vineyard and Winery.
Oregon Humane Society photo
A pet owner gives her dog a smooch at A Blooming Hill Vineyard and Winery.
Like St. Francis, patron of animals, people in Oregon have a special connection with their pets.

That fact can be seen through the Oregon Humane Society’s adoption rates, which are consistently three to four times the national average.

“If you go to states like Tennessee, people bring animals to the dump and shoot them for practice or sport. You don’t have to go to Third World countries to see animal abuse,” said Barbara Baugnon, communications director at OHS. “We live in a really special place that demands respect for animals.”

OHS’s adoption rates in 2011 were 99 percent for dogs and 95 percent of cats. The national average is 60 percent for dogs, and 20 percent for cats.

Local Catholics support the mission of OHS. A Blooming Hill Vineyard and Winery in Cornelius was one of the 11 dog-friendly wineries in the north Willamette Valley to offer complimentary wine tastings recently as part of the Canines Uncorked fundraiser. St. Alexander Church parishioners Holly and Jim Witte own the winery, where their two dogs welcomed tasters as they arrived with their own furry friends.

Fundraisers like this one are part of the campaign that has allowed OHS to fund measures to increase save rates. All animals that come into OHS are altered and microchipped before they can be adopted. In 2007, the organization built an on-site animal hospital where veterinary students are available 24 hours a day. Strays can be spayed or neutered the same day they are dropped off, thereby reducing the amount of time they spend in the shelter. That, in turn, frees up more space for new animals.

“Once an animal comes into our care, we are dedicated to that animal finding a home,” Baugnon said.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, 39 percent of households in the country own at least one dog, and 33 percent of households own at least one cat. 

In addition to providing unconditional love, pets are shown to be psychologically, emotionally and physically beneficial. Some studies indicate that spending time with an animal can lower blood pressure, says the national humane society.