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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Barking probability: Pet adoptions at Bark, a Rescue Pub, exceed expectations during pandemic

The goal of 280 adoptions, two pets going to good homes each day, when Bark, a Rescue Pub, opened in mid-August sounded as likely as a guy dubbed “Tiger King” ruling Netflix.

How could so many pets leave a shelter for a permanent home during a pandemic? There hasn’t even been a pet in the White House for four years. The odds were against it, but Bark bucked probability.

Well, 302 cats and dogs were adopted at Bark in 2020. “It really is remarkable,” Spokane Humane Society Executive Director Ed Boks said. “We had to deal with a government shutdown and then make arrangements for outdoor dining, but it worked out.”

Much of that had to do with Josh Wade and his fiancee, Katie Holmes. Wade, who owns Bark as well as Nectar Wine and Beer, and Holmes are pleased that the adoptions exceeded expectations.

“It’s been amazing,” Wade said. “It’s a testament to the business model and Spokane for supporting the cause. If people in our community weren’t open to adopting pets like they do here, we wouldn’t have such numbers. I’m thrilled that we reached 300 adoptions.”

Number 300 is a Siberian Husky/German Shepherd puppy named Dozier. The 10-week-old was adopted by Mason Rose, 19, of north Spokane.

“It was a super-cool experience,” Rose said. “I brought my other dog, Timber, who is a Siberian Husky, to lunch with my girlfriend at Bark, and I fell in love with him immediately. Dozier jumped into my arms, and that was it.”

The new year is off to a good start at Bark. South Hill’s Bob Anderson adopted Bark’s first pet of 2021, Bowser, who is from the same litter as Dozier.

“We haven’t had a dog in 10 years since it was so difficult to have another one since we were so close to our old dog,” Anderson said. “But it was time to do it, and I saw what was happening at Bark, and I’ve met Josh, and so how could I say no?

“We’re thrilled to have our dog. We love him. I’m retired, and it’s just so great to have a dog again. Bark made it easy. We’ve eaten there before. We’ve enjoyed having lunch there.”

Dining on the premises, at 905 N. Washington St., is possible due to igloos, which provide social distancing and privacy. Up to five people in one group can gather and indulge in delicacies such as Jameson butter clams, gnocchi beer stroganoff, and spinach and red pepper Benedict.

“We have fun with our menu,” Wade said. “We take pride in what we serve and our pet adoption, and we’re doing all that we can for the Spokane Humane Society. In 2020, we gave back about $15,000 to the Humane Society.

“We had a tremendous year, and we’re looking to top what we give back to the Humane Society and to increase the adoptions this year. One thousand adoptions is a bit ambitious, but you have to set goals. We’re trying to make an impact.”

Then it’s mission accomplished for Wade, as 13.7% of all Spokane Humane Society adoptions in 2020 were courtesy of Bark. Cat adoptions courtesy of Bark, 173, accounted for 16.5% of SHS adoptions (1,083). Dog adoptions, 123, represented 11% of all SHS adoptions (1,135).

“It’s really incredible what has happened with Bark,” Boks said. “I can’t express how much they helped this year. Considering everything, it was a great year for the Spokane Humane Society when you think about what we’ve been through.”

Despite the challenge of government shutdowns and adoptions by appointment only, social distancing and face masks, SHS experienced only a 3% decline in total adoptions (2,202, down from 2,276).

What’s amazing is that the modest drop in adoptions occurred despite an 11.6% decline in total number of pets rescued in 2020 (2,268, compared to 2,568 in 2019).

SHS attributes the strong adoption numbers to pets and people spending more time together due to the stay-home orders. The silver lining of the coronavirus is that perhaps those orders will spur more pet adoptions since the mandate is still in effect.

“What we’re going through now is difficult, but it helps get you through this when you have a companion,” Boks said. “Hopefully, more people will adopt pets at SHS and Bark. We’re optimistic about this year, and much of that has to do with the success that Bark had last year. We’re so thankful for what Josh has done.”

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