The Washington Humane Society and the Washington Animal Rescue League will merge to form a unified animal care agency, organization leaders announced at a press conference Wednesday morning.

“These two organizations have been collaborating and working closely together for a hundred years,” said WHS President and CEO Lisa LaFontaine, who will stay on to head the combined organization. “We care about the same things. We have the same standards of excellence, and we have been partners.”

Throughout the press conference, organization leaders and employees emphasized that coordinating animal care and allocating joint resources will help expand the group’s efforts to save and treat animals. “With all of this combined, we will change and touch the lives of 60,000 animals a year, and many more people behind those animals loving them and trying to care for them,” said LaFontaine.  

As part of the merger, programs under the combined organization will expand, as additional resources and employees are utilized to help grow spay and neuter services, rescue and adoption programs, and other initiatives throughout the District.

Roger Marmet, the chairman of the new organization, expanded on the unifying vision between the two agencies . “We are going to save more animals and serve more people together,” he said. “To use an animal analogy, we’ll no longer be competing for resources.”

Beyond the initial merger and leadership appointments, a name, mission statement, and logo have yet to be decided on. “We are working together to come up with a new trade name for this combined organization,” LaFontaine said. “It’s going to be a process of looking at what we do well, but more importantly, what we inspire to do not just for Washington but for the region and country.”

The announcement was held at WARL’s headquarters on Oglethorpe Street NW, one of five facilities the new organization will operate out of. There are also early plans to development a “state-of-the-art” facility in Southeast D.C. “We are uniting our resources, our people, and more than two centuries of combined experience,” said Jay Timmons, former WHS chairman, who called the merger a “milestone.”

At the end of the press conference, WHS  rescue workers handed off Daisy, a four-month-old pit bull with a broken leg, to WARL veterinarians—the inaugural animal treated by the unified organization.

“Daisy is blazing a trail for tens of thousands of animals in this community,” LaFontaine said to applause from employees and volunteers. “She symbolizes what we’re going to be able to do together.”

Photo by Quinn Myers