Mountain Humane: Not Your Average Animal Shelter

The Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley—called Mountain Humane since 2018—opened in 1972 when a small group of compassionate animal advocates came together to help lost and abandoned animals in the Wood River Valley. Since then, Mountain Humane has made a huge impact on the community through it’s educational programs, neuter and spay clinics, events, and their commitment to being the first no-kill animal shelter in Idaho. Mountain Humane is even better positioned to serve the Valley after the recent opening of its new campus out Croy Canyon. Mountain Humane is supported by more than 2,500 donors and 500 volunteers each year. Voted the “Best Non-Profit” in the community for the last eight years, Mountain Humane continues to impact the Wood River Valley community.

A private, non-profit, Mountain Humane became the first animal shelter in the state of Idaho to operate a no-kill facility in 1999. This decision by its Board of Directors put it on a path to becoming a leader to other shelter programs and services in the state. Mountain Humane has recently taken on the “No Kill Initiative” to make Idaho a no-kill state by 2025. In the company’s 2017 strategic plan, the board committed to leverage its expertise and resources to help make Idaho a no-kill state by 2025.

Mountain Humane recently opened their new 30,000-square-foot animal adoption and humane education center which will be crucial to helping this initiative. The new campus has doubled the number of pets housed which helps decrease the number of animals unnecessarily euthanized at overcrowded shelters in the region. Mountain Humane works with other shelters in the state and region to transfer in animals on a “space available” program which allows high-kill shelters the chance to transfer health, adoptable pets that would otherwise be euthanized due to lack of space.  New modern kennel design and materials has improved the health of animals, decreased stress and prevented the spread of disease.

Mountain Humane Campus

The Mountain Humane campus is a community hub for both those looking to adopt pets and those who simply love to be around animals. The campus has a spay/neuter and medical center, dog cabins and intake area, indoor training and acquaintance center, main entrance/adoption center, a cat café, an education barn, an administration area, an outdoor events patio, and “Central Bark” landscaped courtyard.

Mountain Humane - Sun Valley Animal Shelter
Image courtesy Mountain Humane

The Barkin’ Basement

In addition to donations and fundraisers, Mountain Humane utilizes funds from their thrift story subsidiary on Main Street in Hailey, The Barkin’ Basement. Open since 1994, this store offers a source of outside financing and an offsite cat adoption center.


Image courtesy Mountain Humane

Community Paws

A new program at Mountain Humane, Community Paws helps under-served populations in Blaine County. Using their Outreach Van, Mountain Humane is able to reach people and pets who would otherwise be unable to access their services. Throughout the year, staff travel around the Valley to sign people’s pets up for free community spay/neuter clinics, tell them about the Paws for Hunger pet food bank, teach children about dog safety and responsible pet ownership and hold vaccination clinics.

Paws for Hunger

Paws for Hunger is Mountain Humane’s Pet Food Bank partnership with the Hunger Coalition. Money is raised to purchase pet food and volunteers transport the food weekly to the Hunger Coalition warehouse where it is distributed to families in need. Since 2010, 6,172 bags of food have been given to families within the Wood River Valley.

Spay & Neuter Clinics

One of the most impactful programs run by Mountain Humane is their free community spay/neuter program, something the organization began offering in 2006 which has seen dramatic success in reducing the local homeless animal population. These clinics are offered weekly at no cost to pet owners in Blaine County.

Humane Education

Mountain Humane seeks to provide as much education as possible to various groups. For children, Mountain Humane offers education summer camps which include topics like learning dog body language, Leave No Trace principles, and making homemade dog treats. They also offer obedience classes.


Mountain Humane proudly offers services to enhance the lives of animals at the shelter and supporting every adoption through their “PAWSbilities” program. This includes stress management through techniques like quiet time, extended chow time, sensory enrichment, exercise, and behavior modification training.

Pets for Life

This program was founded and funded by the Humane Society of the United States and Mountain Humane was the first rural community in the nation to be chosen for a Peters for Life grant. This grant builds humane communities using innovative strategies designed to extend the reach of animal services, resources and information to underserved areas. With this partnership, Mountain Humane has reached communities in Fairfield, Richfield, Dietrich, and Shoshone since 2015.


Mountain Humane is home to many fun events throughout the year. In addition to their annual Dog Days of Summer benefit dinner and gala and Party for Paws benefit concert, Paws Around Town is held at Ketchum Town square throughout the summer, an offsite adoption event that allows people to meet shelter pets and learn about the organization’s programs and services. Other events take place at the Mountain Humane campus including yoga, the Cat Cozy club, and Yappy Hour at the Central Bark and Splash Pad that includes tours and drinks.

Events at Mountain Humane - Sun Valley Animal Shelter
Image courtesy of Mountain Humane


Mountain Humane has had a great impact on the Wood River Valley with 2016 operations infusing $5.3 million into the local economy. The chance to adopt brings many visitors to the Valley who spend their money in the local economy as well.

Mountain Humane - Sun Valley Animal Shelter
Image Courtesy Mountain Humane

Primary Adoption Impacts

  • Approximately 400 local adoptions annually adds up to a significant amount of pet care spending on food, boarding, veterinary care, and supplies
  • 200 more adoptions (1/3 of annual total) to families from out of town results in local spending on hotels, meals, gas, and more
  • With 50% of the adoptable animals being transported in from overcrowded regional shelters regionally, there are additional local expenditures on transportation, lodging, and more

Core Shelter Expenditures

  • Detailed calculations of expenditures on everything from payroll to printing costs, multiplied line by line by percentage spent locally
  • With 33 local employees supporting their families, there are also significant indirect expenditures for their family spending, not included in this calculation

Opportunities to Work With Animals

Mountain Humane is always looking for volunteers but for those just looking to help a little and interact with the animals, public dog walking hours are daily from 11am-1pm and 3pm-4pm. Public cat socialization hours are 11am-6pm. Mountain Humane also runs their Hikin’ Buddies program throughout the summer which allows people to take a shelter dog for a hike at Adam’s Gulch from 9:30am-1pm on Wednesdays.

Image courtesy Mountain Humane

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