Petco awards Whitman County Humane Society a $5,000 grant

Moscow Petco General Manager Brad Johnson, right, talks Thursday about Ashley Phelps, left, whose story was selected as a Petco Foundation Holiday Wishes winner and earned a $5,000 grant for the Whitman County Humane Society.

The director of the Whitman County Humane Society submitted a story for a Petco essay contest about how an adopted cat named Felix changed her life. On Thursday, her story earned the Pullman animal shelter thousands of dollars.

At a presentation made in its Moscow store, Petco awarded the Whitman County Humane Society a $5,000 grant and Ashley Phelps a $100 shopping spree. Phelps’ essay was one of 50 winners chosen among thousands of submissions nationwide. Felix even made an appearance Thursday during the ceremony.

Phelps entered Petco’s Holiday Wishes contest by writing about Felix, adopted four years ago at the Whitman County Humane Society.

Phelps said Thursday the adoption experience prompted her to volunteer with the humane society, which eventually led her to becoming its director.

Wendy Ortman, vice president of the WCHS board of directors, said the grant money will go toward increasing staff and resources to deal with the growing number of animals at the shelter.

“We’ve grown a ridiculous amount since 2015,” she said, adding that the number of animals they deal with has tripled.

Audrey Kristofferson, an adoption counselor at WCHS, said six staff members work at the facility.

She said cats make up the majority of animals they must shelter, in large part because not enough people are spaying and neutering their animals.

They also temporarily house feral cats as part of Pullman’s trap and release program in which feral cats are caught, spayed or neutered and then let go.

“We get more cats than anything,” she said, adding that they often arrive in batches.

Kristofferson said it is difficult for the WCHS staff to unexpectedly be given animals, and the facility sometimes runs low on food supplies. The shelter also is in need of more foster owners to help them care for the animals.

She said the Petco grant will be of great help to a staff that puts its “blood, sweat and tears,” into the job.

“This grant is amazing,” she said.

Phelps said she hopes the award, in addition to bringing more staff, will also bring more publicity to the WCHS so that more people will know it is a resource.

Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to

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