Position Statements

Animal Fighting

The Humane Society of Western Montana condemns animal fighting, which is  broadly defined as any sport, exhibition or attraction in which humans induce, encourage, allow or force one animal to fight another, or to fight a human. Such activities unnecessarily expose both people and animals to stress, pain, injury, and death. We believe that animal fighting encourages the cruel and brutal treatment of animals for entertainment and profit. The Humane Society supports strict enforcement of existing law prohibiting animal fighting and advocates for the addition of felony-level penalties for spectators of animal fighting events. 

Animal Testing

The Humane Society of Western Montana does not support the use of animals to test consumer products such as cosmetics and household cleaners, nor do we support the use of animals in biomedical research and testing where effective alternatives are available. In any research using animals, researchers should have a written experimental protocol that is reviewed by a licensed veterinarian and includes humane husbandry that provides physical and mental enrichment, medical care, and consideration for the elimination of pain, relief of stress, and prevention of suffering to animals. HSWM believes that both research-funding entities and research centers that use animals in biomedical research and testing should be transparent in their scientific and ethical justifications for their use of animals and in their explanations to the public about why they determined that the use of animals in their research was necessary.

Black Lives Matter Statement

We are a humane organization, founded on principles of compassion and empathy, and the elimination of cruelty and suffering. We believe that Black Lives Matter. We acknowledge that people of color suffer under inhumane, insidious, systemic, and overt racism. By failing to consider racial and cultural bias in our past practices, we have contributed in ways small, large, and unmeasured to institutionalized racism. 

The Humane Society of Western Montana (HSWM) apologizes for the role we have played in preserving practices that fail to acknowledge the dignity of everyone we encounter. We are listening to people of color. We are committed to lasting change.

We believe in creating an environment where Black and Indigenous people have the social, economic, and political power to thrive.* We are resolved to diversify the voices within our organization, among leadership, employees, volunteers, contributors, customers, and collaborators. We are committed to prioritizing conscientious changes to our practices to ensure no one is marginalized. 

We acknowledge that in a predominantly white community and within the predominantly white animal welfare field, we must be relentless and deliberate in the struggle to restore equality and justice.

The damage racism has done to the fabric of our interdependence has made the garment unfit to wear.** We are responsible for reknitting the cloth so that it becomes a banner around which we celebrate our healing rather than a shroud in which we bury our humanity.

*Adapted from Black Lives Matter Global Network “What We Believe”

**King, Jr., ML. (1963). Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Birmingham, Alabama.

Breed-Specific Legislation

The Humane Society of Western Montana opposes any state or local law to regulate or ban dogs based on breed. We recognize that dangerous dogs pose a serious community problem that requires attention, but existing research does not support breed-specific legislation as an effective method for preventing dangerous dogs. These laws unfairly target responsible pet guardians and their dogs without offering an effective solution.

The Humane Society favors a breed-neutral, community-based approach that includes public education and effective enforcement of animal control laws. HSWM uses the best tools available to assess the behavior of the dogs in its adoption program in order to provide some assurance to the public that the dogs that pass through our doors do not pose a danger to the community.

Commercial Breeding

The Humane Society of Western Montana advocates for the adoption of animals from reputable shelters and rescue groups as the first option. We encourage anyone who purchases a pet to seek responsible breeders dedicated to improving the health, condition, and behavior of their animals and who assume lifetime accountability for these animals.

The Humane Society opposes commercial breeding facilities that mass-produce puppies and other companion animals. Such breeding facilities overlook ill health, genetic defects, and negative behavioral traits in favor of financial profit. Animals suffer in conditions caused by overcrowding, inadequate shelter, poor sanitation, lack of food, water, and veterinary care; long-term confinement; and lack of social and behavioral enrichment. 

The Humane Society supports policies and/or professional organizations that provide oversight of shelters, breeders, boarding, daycare and rescue facilities.

Cosmetic and Elective Surgery

The Humane Society of Western Montana opposes elective and cosmetic surgeries and procedures that have no medical benefit and are based solely on the convenience of the animals’ owners.

Unacceptable procedures include but are not limited to tail-docking, ear-cropping, and debarking. The Humane Society of Western Montana also opposes declawing, which often results in long-term pain and behavioral problems. Scratching is a normal part of cat behavior, and we believe that declawing cats should only be performed when medically necessary for the cat or the owner and all alternatives have been exhausted. We instead promote the use of scratching posts, nail trimming, Soft Paws, and encourage people to seek professional behavioral advice. 

Operational Policy: Humane Society adoption staff will encourage anyone interested in declawing to select a cat that has already been declawed. Adopters expressing their desire to declaw will be given information regarding the procedure itself and alternatives to declawing. 

Commercial Purchase of Animals by Animal Welfare Organizations or Shelters

The Humane Society of Western Montana does not purchase animals from commercial breeders through either private sale or public auction. The animals offered for adoption at our shelter include animals voluntarily surrendered by their owners, unclaimed strays, transfers from other shelters or municipal facilities unable to accommodate or successfully rehome the animals, or animals remanded to the shelter as the result of law enforcement seizure.

We believe that the practice by some animal welfare organizations, rescues, and shelters of purchasing pets from commercial breeders or their intermediaries for purposes of resale or adoption to the public perpetuates the numerous harms caused by irresponsible puppy mill breeding. These organizations promote the continued profitability of an unprincipled industry, ensure the continued suffering of puppy mill dogs, and violate the trust of shelter donors and the greater public.

The Humane Society of Western Montana respects and values the trust placed in us by the public. We are committed to far-reaching and long-term solutions that promote the welfare and health of pets. We will not knowingly collaborate with organizations that lack similar resolve.

Training Methods

The Humane Society of Western Montana opposes cruel or harsh training methods. We recognize that techniques that involve physical and psychological intimidation can hinder effective training and damage relationships between humans and companion animals. The Humane Society opposes training equipment that can cause physical harm or unnecessary distress to the pet. 

We believe training is an important component of having companion animals, and pets thrive in an environment that provides them with clear structure and communication. The Humane Society advocates training methods that  focus on rewarding desired behaviors and discouraging undesirable behaviors through clear and consistent instruction. 

Operational Policy: The Humane Society uses only positive training techniques in classes offered at the shelter and in all interactions with pets. Volunteers working with shelter dogs are trained in and required to use positive training methods. Humane Society staff will provide information on reward-based training techniques to people seeking advice. 


The Humane Society of Western Montana opposes the use of all trapping devices that have the potential to cause pain and suffering of companion animals. Devices such as leg-hold and body-gripping traps cause intense capture stress, grievous injury, and death. Traps are inherently non-selective and can capture any species, including pets.