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More Than a Shelter: Companions Animal Center

Companions Animal Center

Companions Animal Center offers complete support for local animals and pet owners

By Taylor Shillam

Formerly Kootenai Humane Society, Companions Animal Center (CAC) now has a new name and new location, along with the same no-kill policy upheld by the Humane Society. In its new facility located on Atlas Road in Hayden, Companions Animal Center has been serving the community’s animal population center for over 40 years.

“Companions Animal Center’s mission is to provide quality, humane care, rehabilitation, adoption, and education for the good of the animals and their companions in our community,” says Vicky Nelson, director of development.

CAC reports they rescue and adopt more than 2,000 pets each year. Their many services include a low-cost spay/neuter clinic for cats and dogs, vaccine clinic, pet licensing, food pantry program that supports pet owners through financial hardship, and much more.

The CAC is also 100 percent community funded. “We do not receive any government funding or tax dollars, or funds from any other animal organization,” Vicky says. “We rely solely on the generosity of our local businesses and community members.”

The shelter's no-kill philosophy means it never has to place a time limit on how long a pet can stay there. The CAC reports they have a 95 percent live-save rate, one of the highest in the nation for a shelter of its scope and size.

“CAC practices the no-kill philosophy and strives to help every animal have a long and happy life with a loving family,” Vicky says. “Surrenders, strays and animals transferred in from high-kill shelters are cared for until a permanent home can be found.

She feels for the animals that await adoption at CAC. She says she always had a “hound-type dog” when she was growing up, and “whenever one of those howling animals comes into the shelter, my heart just breaks—although, I know they’re better at CAC than where they came from.”

For local pet owners facing hardship, the CAC offers support in many forms. “Low-income pet owners can take advantage of our pet food bank; community members can bring their pets to receive our low-cost spay/neuter/vaccine services; and community members experiencing life-threatening or life-changing events have a place to keep their pets safe,” says Vicky.

Animal adoption is made easy at the Companions Animal Center—their website is updated regularly with the available dogs, cats and small animals who are ready to find their forever homes. Each animal’s description comes with photos, key information and customized tips for how to best care for each pet.

As an organization that relies on donations to support its programs and services, community support is critical to the CAC, and there are many ways to give.

Located onThird Street in downtown Coeur d’Alene, the Companions Animal Center Thrift Store is a major revenue source for the CAC’s shelter operations. All proceeds from the store directly support CAC in its efforts to ensure the humane treatment of animals and to find forever homes for pets in the local community.

Other ways to support the CAC include one-time or monthly recurring donations, third-party fundraising, and supplying items on the CAC’s rotating wish list.

Throughout November and December, the Companions Animal Center’s Light of Love event offers the chance to support the CAC during the holiday season.

“Lights of Love began over 10 years ago,” Vicky says. “One dozen artificial trees are set up in our local Silver Lake Mall. Community members participate by purchasing a 'light' in memory of (white light) or in honor of (colored light) a pet.”

Tags are then printed with the participant’s last name and their pet's name and are hung on the trees, she says, resulting in thousands of tags adorning the trees by Christmastime.

“Our community comes to the mall in search of their tag,” she adds.

The funds raised from Lights of Love help Companions Animal Center care for almost 100 animals that are in need of medical care, shelter, and a forever home.

“One of our biggest expenses is medical care,” Vicky states. “Unfortunately, community members cannot walk into a store to purchase what is needed. We always request monetary donations to offset those costs. People can specifically request that their donation go to our Hearts of Gold Medical Fund."

The Hearts of Gold Medical Fund provides medical care for animals who become injured or attacked outside their home, providing veterinary care, rabies shots and antibiotics.

Donations in any form are greatly appreciated by the CAC. “We are so fortunate to have such a caring community and look forward to another 40 years of finding the unwanted and neglected animals loving, forever homes,” Vicky says.

Visit the CAC's website at for more information on how to support the CAC or adopt your new furry companion.

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