Billings animal shelter starting building campaign with gift

The Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter received what it calls a $2 million “transformational donation” from the Wagoner family of Billings. This donation is in memory of the family’s beloved late matriarch and wife, Beth Wagner.

Beth Wagner, who we remember fondly for her endless love and compassion for animals, was also a steadfast advocate for their well-being, the shelter stated in a news release. The contribution will go toward building a much-needed new shelter facility.

Mary Wagoner, Beth’s daughter, is a well-known animal advocate in Billings, who in the 1980s founded the Animal Welfare League of Montana. There, she led initiatives to ensure every dog, regardless of circumstance, had access to food, water, shelter, basic vaccinations, and spaying and neutering.


Mary and Beth Wagner

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In 2002, Mary led a successful fundraising campaign for the current shelter. In addition, Wagoner has been a tireless supporter of city and state spay and neuter services, supporting efforts to control pet overpopulation and sponsoring dozens of spay and neuter clinics throughout Montana for many years.

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“We are extremely grateful for Mary’s heartfelt contribution, a testament to her lifelong love of animals. The Wagoner family’s generous donation of $2 million, in honor of Beth Wagoner’s legacy, will enhance our future fundraising successes and profoundly impact our mission. Together, and with the support of our amazing team At YVAS, we continue to uphold the legacy of compassion for animals in need,” said Norma Buchanan, co-chair of the YVAS Fundraising Committee.

The current YVAS facility is not equipped to meet the evolving needs of animal care. With more than 5,000 animals coming into its care annually, the demand for a modern, humane shelter is critical, the shelter said. The existing building lacks basic amenities such as proper ventilation, adequate natural lighting, space and safety features.

“Our community has shown unwavering support for our mission of providing compassionate care to animals in need,” said Trinity Halvorson, shelter director. “With this significant donation, we are one step closer to realizing our vision for a modern shelter.”

Wagoner’s donation is the lead gift for the Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter’s “Paws and Rebuild” campaign, Mary Wagoner said. “This campaign seeks to raise $12 million to build a beautiful, modern animal shelter in Billings; a shelter that will dramatically improve the lives of the animals within its walls.

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