New Seward Animal Shelter Update

On January 21, SOS pets board members and Jeff Bridges, the Interim City Manager met to discuss the next step toward our new shelter. The City asked us for specific details of what is needed and wanted in a new shelter that he could include in an RFP (request for proposal) to offer to interested architects and engineers. 

This is a crucial step. Once architects respond with proposals complete with a floor plan, elevations, and costs, the pet community will have something solid to advance. We can seek support from private donors and the city can seek government funding.

The process is working. A new shelter will be built!

Mark Luttrell, President

Stephanie MillaneComment
New Seward Animal Shelter Updated

Hello, everyone!

Last night the city council approved the resolution to build the new shelter on Sea Lion Ave across from the grade school.  This is huge!  A big step to making the new shelter a reality!  Thank you, everyone, who helped make this happen (yeah- Jackie and Andy)!

At past new shelter meetings, we discussed having a fundraiser at the Seward Music and Art Festival.  SOS Pets is organizing a coat check where folks can leave their bags and coats for a donation.  We need volunteers to help man the booth, especially could use assistance in the evening hours.

Volunteers get free admission to SMAF!

If you can help, please follow the link below.  If you have any questions, contact Christiana or myself.  And please feel free to share this invite with friends.

Thank you!


SOS Pets

PS- hope for cold weather so folks wear their coats to SMAF!  :)

Stephanie MillaneComment
New Seward Animal Shelter Update

Hi pet people:

The City Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously passed resolution 2018-015 recommending moving the shelter to the parcel near the schools. Everybody loves the idea of the new shelter and the new place. If you see Jackie Wilde and Andy Bacon of the planning department, thank them for finding this parcel.

Next, the P and Z recommendation goes to city council for a vote. I'm confident that council will approve the idea.

Ever closer!

Mark Luttrell

SOS Pets

Stephanie MillaneComment
New Seward Animal Shelter Update


On August 7, 2018, residents living near the proposed site for a new shelter (on Dieckgraeff road), objected to the shelter being located close to their homes. There were several reasons cited such as increasing potential flooding, increase in residential traffic, and noise. The Planning and Zoning Commission, who advises the city council, but doesn’t actually make law, unanimously voted to reject the site. During the commissioner's discussion time, the phrase "cannot recommend moving the shelter from a residential area to another residential area” was said. A set back but understandable. So what, or rather where, is next?

Jackie Wilde and Andy Bacon, the staff of the city P and Z, came up with a nice alternative. The parcel is located immediately south of the Seward Elementary school. Check out the aerial image here. There are several advantages to this parcel: there are no nearby residents that could be negatively impacted by the shelter; three schools are within walking distance (think win-win lessons); its located within many tall trees; and is next to a Kenai Peninsula Borough parcel that could be used as a dog park, not just for shelter animals, but the whole community. Planning and Zoning will meet on September 4 to consider this. 


Council member Marianna Keil proposed creating a city fund of $167,000 to be used toward the shelter. Council passed Resolution 2018-049 unanimously! Thank you Marianna, and thank you city council members! Past fundraising efforts have put around ~$40,000 toward the new shelter. 

Currently, two business in town are participating in a “round-up” program that asks customers to round up the cost of their purchase to the next dollar. Cliff Krug at Brown and Hawkins led the effort with two months of donations totaling about $400. Now Jared at SAK Town is participating plus he has a donation can on the counter. Support these folks! This effort raises money and raises awareness!


About 20 people are involved in addressing the details of a new animal shelter. We meet about once a month. Please come by - its very informal, usually there are about 8-10 people at the meetings. We meet in the Mountain Haven Commons at 6PM. Email me (Mark Luttrell) for the next meeting date.




Stephanie MillaneComment
Don't just take your dog for a walk...Take your Walk for a Dog!

The more people actively walking with the free Walk for a Dog app, the greater the donation to your selected animal organization! Use the app each time you grab for the leash. It’s healthy for you, your dog, and your favorite shelter or rescue.

Every Walk for a Dog counts, whether it's a walk around the block or a three-mile hike. Magnify your impact by sharing the app with your friends and family.  

Learn more at


Stephanie MillaneComment
New Seward Animal Shelter Update


By a unanimous vote on May 29, 2018, the City Council voted to create a fund to support a new animal shelter! $167,922 will be drawn from various sources which will create the first concrete step toward a new shelter. This is NOT the entire amount needed to build the shelter. The shelter will take much more than that. But this is a huge step forward.

Every member of the city council and administration deserves thanks for their effort. City council members Marianna Keil, Sue McClure, Rissie Casagrande, Suzi Towsley, Mayor David Squires, Erik Slater and Jeremy Horn; city manager Jim Hunt and finance director Kris Erchinger all support the new shelter. And not just in concept - we're beyond that now - but support in the sense of a demand for doing it right - for a precise understanding of terms and responsibilities, compliance with meeting protocol and in creating an animal shelter we can be proud of


A group of supporters of a new animal shelter met several times this spring and most recently June 18, 2018, to talk specifically about how to create a new shelter. We are fortunate to have solid representation from the city in the group as well as board members of SOS Pets and business owners.

Next step is for SOS Pets to meet with the city to discuss a "cooperative agreement" which may create a framework for further funding and coordination of community skill sets. SOS Pets is an IRS tax-exempt public charity that may help to create cost efficiencies.

We’re hoping for a meeting in mid-July.


The most likely city parcel for the new shelter is on the south side of the Dieckgraeff road about 1000 feet west of the Seward Highway.

New Seward Animal Shelter
New Seward Animal Shelter
New Seward Animal Shelter

City Parcel

In addition to providing a city parcel, the city has committed to providing the electrical services and site preparation. Also, a recent resolution allows some city equipment and staff to be used after hours on the new animal shelter.


Over the past 20 years, SOS Pets has collected many suggestions about what is absolutely required, what makes sense and what would be cool if we can afford it.

Summary of responses to an informal survey of interested supporters of a new Seward animal shelter April 2018

The shelter will be welcoming, warm, cozy and hopeful. All standards defined by the Guidelines for Standard of Care in Animal Shelters by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians will be met or exceeded.

Survey respondents identified these activity areas: kitchen, break room, small pets, adoption, classroom/training, pregnant nursing and quarantine, vet area. All these functions are combined into two rooms, one focused on medical vet care and the other focused on human/ animal encounters.

The quarantine room will accommodate intake, quarantine, minor vet procedures, vaccinations, exam, holding, space for pregnant/nursing animals. The room has separate HVAC system, is located most distant from dogs and cats, has a separate entrance and can be used by staff or police for after-hours animal drop-off. Shower required for staff who become contaminated by ill animals.

The adoption room will provide a comfortable space for meeting animals, training, small group meetings, and library.

An outdoor cat and dog area ranked high among respondents. For both dogs and cats, the outdoor area is covered and fenced with cement floor. Outdoor dog kennels are fewer than indoor because large fenced outdoor run serves the same purpose.

Dog kennels will be sloped toward individual trench drains and have in-floor heating.

Cattery will be homey with soft elevated beds, places to hide and perch, dark areas for shy cats, many cat scratching posts and cat trees.

All surfaces with high animal traffic will be nonporous, like an epoxy sealed cinder block.

Facility faces south to maximize natural light and warmth.

Critical HVAC system will allow 10-20 air exchanges per hour. Heat capturing device included. Temperature stays within 60-80 degrees F.

The large mechanical room will also accommodate laundry, janitorial and storage.

The large open lobby will be comfortable, colorful and naturally lit through south-facing windows. Sound reduction techniques will be used in high traffic areas.


I (Mark Luttrell) took this information and came up with a draft (I mean DRAFT as in something to start from) floor plan. Here it is:

New Seward Animal Shelter

Based on the top floor plan, I came up with a conceptual drawing to give all of us who are visual thinkers a place to start. Again, this is a DRAFT, it's just a place to start.

New Seward Animal Shelter
It's COLD out there! Are your pets properly protected from the weather?

You're probably already aware of the risks posed by warm weather and leaving pets in hot cars, but did you know that cold weather also poses serious threats to your pets' health?

Here are some tips to keep your pets safe during cold weather:

Winter Snowy Dog

Winter wellness: Has your pet had his/her preventive care exam (wellness exam) yet? Cold weather may worsen some medical conditions such as arthritis.

Read more at:

Stephanie MillaneComment
Pet Emergencies and Trapping Safety

Do you know when to consider a pet injury or ailment an emergency? On November 4th, SOS Pets hosted a clinic to explore pet first aid and the basics of trapping safety at the Seward Volunteer Fire Department. The class was well attended by about 20 local folks and lasted about two hours.

One of the first thoughts shared by our presenters was, “If you’re thinking ‘Is this bad enough to go to the vet?’ the answer is probably yes.” The next question was, “What constitutes an emergency?” We learned the basics of what is normal body function for dogs and cats and when to worry.


We also covered toxic foods and found out a few foods many didn’t know were toxic to dogs and cats. Everyone knows chocolate and grapes can be toxic, but did you know onions and garlic are bad for dogs as well? Garlic and other members of the allium family, including onions, contain thiosulfate, which is toxic to dogs but not to humans.
Another lesser known fact was that some peanut butter types are very bad for dogs as they contain Xylitol, a naturally occurring substance which is often used as a sugar substitute.  While safe for humans, Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, liver failure or even death. Our presenters recommended pet parents only use all natural peanut butter which does not contain Xylitol. Grapes, xylitol, chocolate, onions, and garlic are also toxic to your cat.


Our session also covered pet safety and trapping. Most of the attendees assumed there are regulations in place when it comes to trapping locations and areas commonly used by the public and their pets. We soon learned that the Eastern Kenai Peninsula has very few regulations and that trapping is allowed virtually everywhere except for Seward City limits. Our presenter mentioned an ethical, well-versed hunter will place their traps in places very unlikely to capture a pet but new trappers may not know any better.


Our next topic covered how to release a pet from a trap. These situations can be stressful and it’s recommended to muzzle or cover the head of a trapped dog so as not to accidentally get bit. We reviewed how each trap functioned and how to release it before heading outside to practice with each trap.

There are several online resources for learning about Alaska Trapping and what to do should you find yourself dealing with a trapped pet.

Alaska Trappers Association: alaskatrapper.orgSharing Alaska’s Trails

Alaska Department of Fish & Game: adfg.govTrapping Information

Alaska Department of Fish & Game: adfg.govTrap Safety for Pet Owners

Alaska Department of Fish & Game: adfg.govSharing the Trails

Should you find a trap while out with your pet it’s best to leave it alone. Alaska Law forbids springing a trap. However, if it’s near a trail and potentially a hazard to others you can report it to the Alaska Department of Fish & Game’s Soldotna office at Phone (907) 262-9368.


SOS Pets Hosting Concessions Stand on October 27th

Come on out to the KM Rae Building on October 27th for the Skip & Marie Fletcher Winter Movie Series and support SOS Pets. Just pick up a popcorn or candy bar and 75% of the proceeds raised will go to SOS Pets! Or just drop a couple bucks into the SOS Pet donation jar.  The SOS Team will be running the booth and you'll have a chance to get to know some of our board members! 

See you October 27th!

Stephanie MillaneComment
The Seward Animal Shelter has a New Cattery!

The Seward Animal Shelter has had several updates over the last few months and one of those additions is a brand new Cattery. One of the advantages of the outdoor cattery is that it appeals to their need to burrow and hide in niches and quirky tight spots. Feral cats, that typically do not have amicable social skills around other cats or people, are especially attracted to the outside area. One cat that remained crouched and shy while inside, became loving and approachable when outside. 

While no occupancy numbers were kept at the shelter, reports are that the cats loved venturing outside to hang out on the many cat trees and benches and kennels. Cats love tight spaces and a netted ramp leading from the in/out cat door seemed to appeal to them. 

Now cats have an escape from loose and loud dogs and overly inquisitive human hands inside the shared area of the shelter. They can watch humans and retreat or sidle up to them. The area provides sun and some shelter from the rain.

A gated wall separates the outside cattery from an escape proof outside adoption area where potential adopters can enjoy some one-on-one time with cats (and dogs!). This small, calm area is also a great place for staff to have lunch and take a break form the demands of the shelter.

Stephanie MillaneComment