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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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After 2 years in business, Bark and Spokane Humane Society welcome increased adoption rates

By Jase Picanso The Spokesman-Review

Leslie French smiled brightly earlier this month in the cat room at Bark, A Rescue Pub, later calling the atmosphere “almost dangerously inviting” for adoption of a new fuzzy friend.

After she ate dinner, French met some of the animals in the rescue center and fell in love with a resident, Tootsie, an energetic black kitten that had been with the Spokane Humane Society for several weeks. After leaving the pub, French couldn’t get the wide-eyed, playful kitten out of her head, leading her to come back for more visits.

“We really liked Tootsie when we came in to eat last time,” French said.

Bark is a restaurant at 905 N. Washington St. adjacent to Riverfront Park where customers interact with and adopt cats and dogs in partnership with the Spokane Humane Society. Since opening nearly two years ago, the pub has adopted out nearly 850 pets.

The restaurant is owned by Josh Wade and Katie Holmes, who were inspired by a similar operation in Tigard, Oregon, according to Bark’s website.

Bark’s adoption center is much smaller than at the Humane Society, which allows for a more low-key environment to get to know the animals and their personalities, said Gabby Thompson, adoption manager at the pub.

French had a lot of personal time with Tootsie outside of her kennel. Seeing her playful personality shine made French fall in love, she said.

“It gives you a feel of interaction,” French said. “It’s a lot more inviting to come in and just see the animals.”

Bark has helped boost the adoption rates in Spokane, Thompson said.

“We get a lot of people who come in not expecting to adopt,” Thompson said, “they come in and they fall in love and decide to take an animal home.”

These spur-of-the-moment adoptions have helped boost the Humane Society’s mission, said Kristi Soto, director of marketing and communications at the nonprofit.

“With more than 800 adoptions at their location, that is 800 that would not have been adopted if they hadn’t opened,” Soto said.

The Humane Society had around 2,200 adoptions in 2021, including those that took place at Bark. With additional adoption space for the public at Bark, those numbers for The Humane Society continue to grow.

The outreach of Bark via social media has brought more attention to adoption needs in Spokane, a platform to share promotional events and spreading the word about adoption events.

There are also cats and dogs that thrive in a more personal environment than what is available at the Humane Society’s location in northeast Spokane, Soto said.

All adoption funds, and a portion of the pub funds, go directly to the Spokane Humane Society to help support more animals in need of forever homes, Thompson said.

“The partnership with Bark has supplied an additional, centralized location for our community members to adopt pets and support (the Humane Society),” Soto said. “People can go for a meal and drinks, give a donation, visit the animals, adopt and on Wednesdays $1 of every (food) purchase is donated to Spokane Humane Society.”

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