Mary & Beth Waggoner | photo courtesy of YVAS

Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter Receives $2M Donation

May 9, 2024

BILLINGS, MT | YVAS Media Release 

On May 9, Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter (YVAS) announced a "transformational" donation of two million dollars from the Waggoner family of Billings, Montana. The gift is in memory of the late Beth Waggoner who is fondly remembered for her unending love and compassion for animals; a steadfast advocate for their welfare.

This generous contribution from the Waggoner family leads the way for the "Paws and Rebuild" Campaign for YVAS, which is designated towards the construction of a much-needed new shelter facility. The campaign seeks to raise 12 million dollars for a new, state-of-the-art animal shelter in Billings, noted Mary Waggoner (Beth's daughter) in the donor letter. A shelter, she continued, that will "enormously improve the lives of the animals within its walls." 

Mary, a well-known animal advocate in her own right, is the Honorary Campaign Chairperson for the YVAS fundraising committee. Mary's profound commitment to animal welfare spans decades, said YVAS, with a notable start in the 1980s at the Animal Welfare League of Montana. There, she spearheaded initiatives to ensure every dog, regardless of circumstance, had access to water, shelter, basic vaccinations, and spaying and neutering. In fact, she would go on to be a tireless proponent for spaying and neutering services in the city and state, sponsoring scores of spay and neuter clinics across Montana for many years. 

This monumental donation is not Mary's first rodeo, so to speak, in 2002-2004, Mary led a successful fundraising campaign to raise money for YVAS's current shelter. “We are deeply grateful for Mary’s heartfelt contribution, a testament to her lifelong  love for animals. The Waggoner family’s generous donation of $2 million, honoring  Beth Waggoner’s legacy, will fuel our future fundraising successes and profoundly impact our mission. Together, with the support of our amazing team at YVAS, we  continue to uphold a legacy of compassion for animals in need.” said Norma  Buchanan, co-chair of the YVAS fundraising committee. 

Twenty years later, YVAS's existing facility is ill-equipped to meet the evolving needs of animal care. Annually, over 5,000 animals enter into care with YVAS, making the demand for a modern, humane shelter paramount. The current building lacks essential entities like proper ventilation, adequate natural light, space, and safety features. "This remarkable donation from the Waggoner family," said YVAS, "will drive our mission to construct a new shelter that prioritizes the well-being and comfort of every animal in our care." 

Our community has shown unwavering support for our mission to provide compassionate care for animals in need. With this significant donation, we are one step closer to realizing our vision of a modern shelter that reflects The Waggoner Family’s love for animals.
Triniti Halverson, YVAS Director

In her letter, Mary recognized the work of Halverson and her dedicated team at YVAS, noting the "remarkable strides [made] in Billings' animals shelter care in recent years." She added that "With a proper facility in place, the potential for even greater achievements will finally be within our reach." And that's where the "Paws and Rebuild" Campaign comes into play. Mary ended the later stating that " is our sincere hope our gift will serve as a catalyst to inspire significant generosity from our community. Please join us by helping ensure the success of the "Paws and Rebuild" Campaign. Together, we can champion the cause of animal welfare in Billings by helping care for those who cannot speak for themselves." 

The Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter extends heartfelt gratitude to the Waggoner  Family for their exceptional generosity and to all supporters who share in our  commitment to animal welfare. Together, we will build a brighter future for the  animals in our community. 

About Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter: 

Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that cares for  lost and transitioning animals in the Billings community. YVAS is the largest-volume  shelter in Montana, caring for approximately 5,000 animals each year. For more  information, be sure to follow them on social media and visit

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