Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County pauses intake of lost, stray dogs

The Federal Way Police Department Animal Services Unit is asking people to try other methods to care for lost dogs.

The Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County has paused intake of lost dogs due to a pneumovirus outbreak at the shelter.

“Several other shelters across the nation have experienced increased cases of canine respiratory illnesses this year,” said Leah Turner, chief operating officer at the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County. “Our priority is to ensure a safe and healthy environment for the dogs in our care and in our community.”

Effective Nov. 15, the humane society is not taking in any additional stray, lost or owner-surrendered dogs. This pause is expected to last through Thanksgiving.

Pneumovirus is a respiratory disease found specifically in dogs, and can contribute to the canine infectious respiratory disease complex. Signs of the illness began showing at the humane society in May and since then, over 31 dogs have shown signs of upper respiratory infections and pneumonia.

As of Tuesday, 15 dogs are on active pneumonia treatment and all in various stages of their treatment protocol, according to Lindsey Heaney, communications manager for the shelter. Five dogs are being treated for Kennel Cough symptoms, and are being monitored daily as their illness could turn into pneumonia or may just be a run-of-the-mill Kennel Cough curable with antibiotics.

Three dogs in foster are on Kennel Cough medications and another three dogs in foster on active pneumonia treatment.

The humane society has asked all local animal control agencies to exhaust other options prior to taking animals to the shelter. Local agencies that provide lost or stray dogs to the shelter include Federal Way, Edgewood, Milton, Algona, Pacific, Tacoma and several other Pierce County cities. The Federal Way Police Department Animal Services Unit is asking people to try other methods to care for lost dogs

The community is asked to help decrease the number of dogs coming into the shelter by holding onto a lost or stray dog if found. The shelter will only accept lost or stray dogs in emergency circumstances (i.e., dangerous behavior or requiring immediate medical care). Guidance for the shelter’s decision comes from the shelter’s veterinary team and guidelines from national veterinary experts on disease in animal shelters, according to the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County.

In Federal Way, the Animal Services Unit can only hold a small number of found dogs due to limited space at the police department.

Things you can do if you find a lost dog (instructions do not apply to cats or other types of domestic animals):

  • Contact the humane society and report the animal as found, giving a detailed description of the animal and where it was found.
  • Walk the dog around the neighborhood where it was found. More than likely the dog lives nearby.
  • Post photos of the animal on social media sites or Facebook groups such as Lost/Found Pets of Federal Way-Auburn, Federal Way Lost + Found Pets, Lost Dogs of King County WA or Friends of Federal Way. People can also utilize Nextdoor or Ring to post for neighbors to see.
  • Take the animal to a veterinary hospital to scan for a chip.

For more information on what to do when finding a lost pet, visit