Executive Director Samantha Blankenship gets a kiss from Willie, a Dachshund puppy, at the Gastineau Humane Society on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018. The society is starting the new year with a name change to Juneau Animal Rescue. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Executive Director Samantha Blankenship gets a kiss from Willie, a Dachshund puppy, at the Gastineau Humane Society on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018. The society is starting the new year with a name change to Juneau Animal Rescue. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Animal shelter changes name to avoid confusion, include community

Era of Juneau Animal Rescue begins this week

The Gastineau Humane Society began in 1963 as a shed under the Douglas Bridge.

Since then, it’s grown along with the growth in pets in Juneau. As the animal shelter passes the half-century mark, Executive Director Samantha Blankenship said she and her co-workers are trying to keep up with the times.

“We’re trying to just sort of re-envision ourselves for the next 55-plus years to come,” Blankenship said, “and we wanted to involve the community in that change.”

One way to involve the community, they decided, was to put the city in their name. Starting yesterday, Juneau’s animal shelter will be known as Juneau Animal Rescue.

The name change has been in the works for about a year, Blankenship said. The board of directors and an outside consultant sat down and looked at ways for the shelter to prepare for the future. Many of the possible changes centered around technology and updating software, but a name change was another major priority.

The change seemed appropriate for a couple reasons, Blankenship said. One is to cut down on confusion between Gastineau Humane Society and Gastineau Human Services. Gastineau Human Services runs the city’s halfway house, as well as behavioral health and transitional housing services.

A couple times a week, the shelter gets calls for Gastineau Human Services, Deputy Director Shane Walker said. It’s not much of a hassle, and Walker said they appreciate the work that Gastineau Human Services does in the community, but this name change could clear up that confusion.

Another main reason for the change was to give more of a nod to the city that the shelter serves, Blankenship said.

“We do the majority of our work in Juneau and we really wanted to have the community involved in our name a little bit more,” Blankenship said.

The name of Juneau Animal Rescue worked on multiple levels. It states more clearly where the business is located and also provides a clearer picture of what the shelter does. It’s more than a shelter, Blankenship said, as there are community outreach projects, daycare programs, specialized boarding situations for animals with special needs, professional grooming, spaying and neutering and more. Animal Control, which protects domestic animals and handles emergencies, is also part of the shelter.

Blankenship said there haven’t been any major costs to the name change, but there was a little more work than they expected. Walker said it was a little difficult to get things changed on the technological side of things, including finding a domain name that was available.

“You’d think a name change would be real straightforward,” Walker said. “When you start involving the internet and all that sort of fun stuff, it makes it far less joyous and more like work.”

The logo — which is being done by local artist duo Marms & Meeks — is going to be unveiled soon, Blankenship said. The website will also soon be live, at www.juneauanimalrescue.org. For now, business continues as usual.

“We’ve come a long way since our humble beginnings,” Blankenship said, “with people just volunteering and wanting to help animals in need in the community.”


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


Executive Director Samantha Blankenship, left, looks on as Kennel Supervisor Heather Harper gives Delilah, a laborador/poodle mix, a trim at the Gastineau Humane Society on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018. The society is starting the new year with a name change to Juneau Animal Rescue. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Executive Director Samantha Blankenship, left, looks on as Kennel Supervisor Heather Harper gives Delilah, a laborador/poodle mix, a trim at the Gastineau Humane Society on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018. The society is starting the new year with a name change to Juneau Animal Rescue. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Dr. Jennifer Tobiason, of the Southeast Alaska Animal Medical Center, left, and Clinic Director Alicia Harris give a check up to a cat at the Gastineau Humane Society on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018. The society is starting the new year with a name change to Juneau Animal Rescue. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Dr. Jennifer Tobiason, of the Southeast Alaska Animal Medical Center, left, and Clinic Director Alicia Harris give a check up to a cat at the Gastineau Humane Society on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018. The society is starting the new year with a name change to Juneau Animal Rescue. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

James Bontadelli takes a look at a new albino guinea pig at the Gastineau Humane Society on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018. The society is starting the new year with a name change to Juneau Animal Rescue. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

James Bontadelli takes a look at a new albino guinea pig at the Gastineau Humane Society on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018. The society is starting the new year with a name change to Juneau Animal Rescue. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

The Gastineau Humane Society is starting the new year with a name change to Juneau Animal Rescue. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

The Gastineau Humane Society is starting the new year with a name change to Juneau Animal Rescue. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

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