Useless Bay, at the south end of Whidbey Island, is one of our favorite places, and it is anything but useless. It was named Useless Bay because it is not deep enough for large ships. One person’s useless is another person’s treasure. The dogs we will be saving may have been deemed useless by someone, but we will find a place where they are valued family members.

We don’t have a central physical location.  Our dogs are placed in foster homes, and our volunteers live all over King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties.

Please don’t chase a stray dog!  This article on Seattle DogSpot will give you many strategies to try instead of chasing the dog.  http://www.seattledogspot.com/blog/dog-blog/post/7-tips-for-helping-a-lost-dog

No.  Many rescues and shelters already perform that service, and our goal is not to duplicate those services.  Our mission is to try to help dogs that don’t have a known owner.  We can refer you to a local shelter or rescue that will be happy to help you with an owner-surrendered dog. 

Calming Signals are the gestures dogs use to calm other dogs and avoid aggressive behaviors. 

Please contact us at UselessBaySanctuary@gmail.com  We are looking for foster homes, especially, as that is our greatest need when we succeed in capturing a stray dog.  We also need volunteers for transportation, administrative duties, and to be first responders in their areas.  You can also contact us through our Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Useless-Bay-Sanctuary/169951193192256

We use humane traps from TruCatch.  We have captured hundreds of dogs and cats using humane traps since 2008.  99% of captured pets are completely uninjured.  Once in a great while, a cat might get a bloody nose from running into the end of the cage in panic.  We have also captured raccoons and possums, unintentionally.  No animal we have captured has ever had anything more than a superficial injury.  A humane trap does need to be used with certain precautions to avoid injury, and we have always followed the best procedures. 

Our mission at UBS is to serve stray dogs that aren’t necessarily a good fit for traditional rescues.  Most rescue groups handle a high volume of dogs, pulling them from shelters or accepting them as owner surrenders.  The strength of these rescue groups is that they quickly place dogs into new homes and help large numbers of dogs.  Because of their standards and practices, such rescues may not be as well suited to handling a stray dog whose owner is unknown.  We will search for the owner of a dog for 30 days in most cases.  Our main goal is to reunite the dog with his owner, if possible.  Only after we have made every reasonable effort to find the original owner do we then place the dog into a screened family for adoption.

UBS welcomes your donations.  The more donations we receive, the more stray dogs we can help.  The easiest way to donate is by PayPal, using this link.  If you would like to mail us a check, you can send it to:

Useless Bay Sanctuary
c/o Jim Branson
P O Box 904
Seahurst, WA  98062

If you would like to donate items, such as kennels, leashes, collars, harnesses, dog food, toys, or towels, please contact us at UselessBaySanctuary@gmail.com

You can contact us at any time for assistance, but here are some general guidelines.  First, get several clear pictures of the dog.  If he escapes again, you want to be able to identify him and help people find him again.  If he is a happy, friendly dog, and you don’t think he will try to escape from you, you can put a leash on him and walk him in the area, letting him lead you.  Chances are he will lead you to his house.  As you are walking with him, ask people if they recognize the dog.  If there is a chance he would try to escape while walking on a leash, because he is nervous or shy, then carefully load him into a vehicle and take him to a vet to be scanned for a microchip. 

When I am handling a dog that is new to me, I prefer to put a collar and a harness on him.  Then I attach one leash to the collar and one leash to the harness, to reduce the changes of escape.  If walking him around the area doesn’t work, and scanning him for a chip reveals nothing, then put up Found Dog posters in the area where you found him.  Of course, you can take him to your local shelter at any time, or call Animal Control.  Keep in mind that, if this dog wandered far, you may be taking him to a different shelter than where his owners would be looking for him.  Please contact us at any time if you need advice on what to do with a found dog.

Unfortunately, that’s not an easy question to answer in some cases.  Don’t assume the shelter closest to you is the one with jurisdiction for your city.  The best way find out is to visit the official web page for your city, and look under Animal Control.  If that doesn’t help, contact us, and we can help you figure it out. 

If you see a cat sitting in someone’s yard, it is most likely that the cat lives nearby.  Because cats and dogs behave differently, it is not as easy to tell when a cat is a stray, compared to seeing a dog just trotting down the street.  If you see a cat where it definitely doesn’t belong, such as the parking lot of a shopping mall or the median strip of a freeway, please call animal control, or contact us for assistance.  If a cat wanders up to your home and lets you pet him, take him to your vet to be scanned for a microchip.  If that doesn’t find his owner, place an ad on craigslist for a found cat.  Also, many rescue organizations specialize in helping feral cats, such as:


We would be delighted if you could foster dogs for us.  Please contact us at UselessBaySanctuary@gmail.com and we will send you a foster application.  We have a variety of needs for foster homes.  Some dogs are easy to foster, and they can get along with multiple pets or live in an apartment temporarily.  Other dogs need special environments or isolation from other pets.  Once we learn your situation and your history with dogs, we can pair you with the right dog.

Please contact us at UselssBaySanctuary@gmail.com, if you would like to adopt. You will need to fill out an application, and a volunteer from UBS will need to visit your home prior to adoption.  The fee for adopting a UBS dog is $300 unless otherwise noted. 

In most cases, we search for a dog’s owner for 30 days before we find a new home for the dog.  Because our dogs come from circumstances where the ownership is unknown, we assume our dogs are loved and missed, and we do everything we can to give that owner a chance to find his beloved pet. 

Should you keep a stray?

A dog may seem abused or neglected if she has been roaming a while.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that the owner isn’t doing everything she can to find her lost dog.  That doesn’t necessarily mean the owner was negligent or abusive.  We have rescued many skinny, dirty, wary dogs that came from loving homes, lost through no fault of the owner.  Once these dogs were back home, they were healthy and happy again.  It does happen that dogs are abused, neglected, dumped, or abandoned, but we can’t jump to that conclusion before exploring alternate explanations for a dog’s condition.

There is a good chance we can help.  Please contact us, and we will work with you to find the best outcome for the dog. 

Read Kat Albrecht’s book on the subject.

Information can also be found in our First Responders Handbook.