PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Two of the largest animal welfare organizations in Oregon will merge together this summer.

Willamette Humane Society (WHS) and Oregon Humane Society (OHS), have announced plans to merge into one organization with two locations, effective July 1.

“I am very excited about what this change means for our community,” says WHS Executive Director B.J. Andersen. “This collaboration will be successful because of our creative, talented, dedicated staff. When all of us come together, we can do more than we ever could alone.”

The combined organization will operate under the Oregon Humane Society name with two campuses, Portland and Salem. The integration of the two organizations will be an 18-24-month process.

Sharon Harmon will continue to be the President and CEO of OHS and two of WHS’ current board members will join the existing OHS board.

“The challenges of the past two years have accelerated the need to be innovative and find new ways to be financially sustainable in order to meet the needs of pets and people long into the future,” Harmon said.

“The alignment of our missions and the work that we have already done together sets us up perfectly for this next step as WHS becomes part of OHS,” Andersen added. “I anticipate that we’ll have even more resources available to care for pets and serve our community.”

The decision to merge WHS into OHS was based on years of thorough analysis, discussions among executive leadership and approval by both boards. This model is an emerging best practice in animal welfare that is being implemented by several prominent organizations around the country including San Diego Humane Society, Wisconsin Humane Society, the Humane Rescue Alliance and the Washington Humane Society.

“Communities from the two largest metro areas in the state will benefit from the combined experience of some of the most skilled animal welfare professionals in Oregon,” Harmon said.