The Washington Ferret Rescue & Shelter was launched nearly 15 years ago by a small group of ferret lovers who opened their hearts, and homes, to neglected and abused ferrets.
From a single garage in Bothell to the shelter's current "base camp" in a small, attractive commercial center in Kirkland supported by about 20 active foster homes, WFRS has evolved into one of the best-known 501(c)(3) organizations dedicated to rescuing and rehoming ferrets in North America.
We are here because many people acquire a ferret without knowing much about them. Ferrets are delightful pets, but just like certain dog breeds, they are not well-suited for every home. Also, very few municipal or county shelters are able to care for "exotic" species. These facilities often contact us when a ferret is rescued or surrendered to them.
WFRS currently houses more than 150 ferrets in multiple locations, including about 70 in the central adoption facility. Our ferrets range from playful young adults to elder ferrets receiving supportive hospice care.
The philosophy is no-kill. The work - all volunteer - is round-the-clock, 24/7. The shelter is entirely supported by donations. On any given day, the emotions range from great big smiles over a successful adoption or nursing a severely ill or injured animal back to health, to grief at the loss of those who couldn't be rescued in time or who waited in vain for their own "forever home."
In all cases, ferrets are given the loving care they deserve by people who are committed to giving them the best possible quality of life.
Cages are cleaned daily. Food, water and litter is cleaned and replenished every day. Out-of-cage playtime and socialization are also daily priorities.
Without a strong network of donors
, this mission could not succeed.
Our Board of Directors includes:
- Vondelle McLaughlin, Onsite Shelter Director
A systems engineer and lifelong animal lover, Vondelle McLaughlin had grown up on a farm in Maine and worked in a wildlife rescue before life drew her to the West Coast.
She began extensively researching ferret health and psychology after acquiring her first ferret, the a biter named "Lucifer," at a pet store.
That research led her to volunteer at WFRS as a cage cleaner. Her skills with behavioral assessment, innate empathy with animals and an uncanny knack for matching the right
ferret with the right prospective adopter quickly became evident. She has served as WFRS shelter director, behavioral specialist and adoption adviser since 2011.
- Kevin Farlee, Board President
Kevin Farlee has been president of WFRS since 2006 and a ferret owner since 2002. He first visited the shelter in 2003, adopting a beautiful pair of sable ferrets.
He takes care of lots of various tasks, from cleaning cages to public education and outreach during the shelter’s regular Saturday open house,
to keeping up with the various government agencies and permits required to keep the shelter running in good order.
On weekdays, Kevin can be found at Microsoft, where he is a program manager in the SQL Server database product group.
- Debbi Walcker, Board Vice President
Debbi Walcker has been a teacher for alternative and special needs/gifted students for more than 20 years.
She had wanted ferrets since she was a teenager, but life circumstances prevented her from getting one until 2004.
It wasn't long before she realized that many store-bought ferrets end up at shelters.
A year later, she and one of her sons dropped by WFRS to adopt a pair of ferrets and offer to work as volunteers.
Walcker became foster coordinator for WFRS a year later, overseeing a network of more than 20 active foster homes, and has served as board vice president since 2011.
- Elizabeth Kamaka, DVM, Board Secretary and co-Medical Director
Dr. Elizabeth Kamaka, DVM, has been a WFRS board member since 2006.
She has served as its secretary throughout that time and as the shelter’s medical director from 2011 until the summer of 2013.
The owner of Kamaka Exotic Animal Veterinary Services
in Mountlake Terrace, WA, Dr. Kamaka feels strongly about helping all those companion animals that find themselves in rescues and shelters.
She has provided veterinary services to WFRS and its predecessor since 2000.
- Holly Carter, BVetMed, co-Medical Director
Dr. Carter has worked for the last 11 years in small animal and exotic practices in the Puget Sound area, and in Essex England..
She obtained her veterinary degree at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, in 2000.
While there, she was active in the Zoological Society, serving it as president during her 4th year.
She conducted research on iguana husbandry and paramyxo virus in snakes.
She also earned a coveted spot in the exotics elective course at the London Zoo, and Whipsnade Wild Animal Park.
- Cathy Johnson-Delaney, DVM, Board Member at large
Dr. Cathy Johnson-Delaney, medical director on the WFRS board, practiced
avian and exotic animal medicine in the Puget Sound area for 33 years.
She is a diplomate, American Board of Veterinary Practitioners-Avian and Exotic Companion Animals, and a leading researcher and speaker who is internationally
known for her work in endocrine disease and multi-neoplastic syndrome in ferrets.
She is the author of the best-selling
Exotic Companion Medicine Handbook for Veterinarians,
as well as co-editor of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association Manual of Exotic Pets, 5th Edition (2010).
Dr. Johnson-Delaney recently retired from her practice at the Avian & Exotic Animal Medical Center in Kirkland, WA.
- Chris Clemens, Board Member-at-Large
Visitors are welcome to drop by the main shelter any Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to meet our adoptable furkids; get expert answers to questions about ferret health, diet, housing and behavior; or just meet fellow animal lovers and see how an animal shelter is run. We also carry a small selection of hammocks, toys and other ferret items for sale. If you need to surrender a ferret, please call us at 206-442-2025 to make an appointment.
for Google Maps' directions to the shelter.