Visiting the Seattle Animal Shelter

Seattle is widely known as a city of animal lovers. In a study conducted by Redfin and Rover, Seattle ranked as the most dog-friendly city in the United States and the American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that over 60% of Washington residents own pets. For those who would like to own pets but cannot for financial, housing, or other reasons, it can be easy to feel left out. 

Resilient Hearts Animal Sanctuary

This is where Resilient Hearts Animal Sanctuary (RHAS), a nonprofit animal shelter in Fremont, Seattle comes in. RHAS offers animal lovers plentiful opportunities to spend time with their adoptable dogs and cats.


While many animal shelters require individuals to volunteer on a consistent (often weekly) basis, RHAS offers drop-in hours for people of all ages, no appointment needed. Interested individuals and groups can stop by for a few hours (or more!) almost any time of the week to play with RHAS’s animals, take them for walks, or even bring them along for a drink at any of the nearby, animal-friendly bars.

Tony the animal shelter pup
animal shelter cats

Play Dates with Pups

On a recent sunny evening, Tony, a playful and loveable Bull Terrier mix could be seen patiently accompanying a group of volunteers to Fremont Brewing Company and happily accepting any and all pets that came his way.


RHAS encourages volunteers to take their animals out and about. Not only is it a great way for volunteers to have fun in their local communities with furry companions, it is also important exposure for adoptable animals looking for forever families.

Community Events at the Animal Shelter

RHAS frequently partners with local businesses and nonprofits, to provide community members with even more opportunities to spend time with their animals. Recently, a group of youth from Lambert House, a nonprofit that provides skill-development and empowerment opportunities for LGBTQIA+ youth, stopped by the Sanctuary to play with animals and learn more about RHAS.


RHAS’s activities allow busy Seattleites and those who are not in a position to adopt a pet, meaningful opportunities to support animals in need of a loving family. The organization’s emphasis on giving community members plentiful opportunities to get involved is intentional. As RHAS’s Executive Director, Mike Ezzo, says about founding RHAS, “we wanted to build something that invited people to share in the love that our animals have to offer. Through this work, we have found that we not only save animals, but we also save people.”

Community Events

In addition to their drop-in hours, RHAS organizes fun, community-building events at their shelter and around Seattle. Puppy yoga classes are a regular fixture, giving yogis of all levels the opportunity to practice their downward-facing dogs in the company of actual dogs. Classes often involve puppies scampering around and offering emotional support and kisses. 


Speaking of kisses, RHAS recently set up a kissing booth at Gasworks Park. For an optional donation, attendees could take pictures with adoptable animals to add some cuteness to their social media feeds. Other fundraising events, such as RHAS’s Snow Ball, the Kiss and Tail Valentine’s Event, and even options to host your own puppy party with your friends or company, offer more opportunities to support RHAS, meet fellow animal lovers, and, perhaps best of all, play with a bevy of cats and dogs.



Kissing Booth

The Benefits

Indeed, studies have shown that spending time with animals and volunteering are both mood-boosting, which means that time spent supporting RHAS (or any local animal shelter!) is a win for everyone involved.


Mike has seen this in his work with volunteers and community members. Mike notes, “There is so much power in having access to dog and cat therapy on a hard day, or providing volunteer opportunities to a teenager who doesn't feel like they belong anywhere. We have found a way to connect with our whole community, and through that save more animals.”


The RHAS Mission

In addition to connecting with its local community, RHAS’s primary mission is to find forever families for its animals, all of whom are saved from at-risk situations across the United States. For those who want to volunteer more regularly or are in a position to foster or adopt animals, RHAS welcomes volunteers to sign up for weekly volunteer slots and they are always looking for individuals and families to foster or adopt dogs or cats. 


And, of course, anyone is welcome to donate money or supplies to the animal shelter, with funds going to food, necessary vet care such as spaying and neutering, and supporting foster families as they take care of and rehabilitate RHAS’s animals. With only one paid employee and a group of committed volunteers, RHAS is a small but mighty operation with low administrative costs, meaning that you can be confident your donated money is directly supporting animals.

Staff and Puppy

Whether you’re looking for an adorable companion on a sunny walk to a local brewery or some kitten cuddles on a rainy afternoon, you can always find fun and meaningful ways to spend your day at RHAS.

If you're looking for other things to do in and around Seattle check out our website!

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Christine Leibbrand

Christine Leibbrand is a native of Washington state and current Seattleite who works as a Policy Development Analyst at University of Washington. In her spare time, she loves to run, rock climb, hike, and draw. She also has a passion for writing, particularly about topics related to health, wellness, personal finance, and the environment. For more of Christine's writing, check out her blog, Department of Adulting or Instagram @christineleibbrand.

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