Saving Lives takes a Village

We are the Village 

How to have a broken heart 

Bob Webster’s heart swelled for every adoptable dog he met. Browsing kennels from Salem to Portland, he saw the wonderful qualities in every set of puppy-dog eyes looking back at him. “They could be loved. They could be loving somebody right now. From an adopter’s perspective it’s hard. I want to help them all.” 

Single, active, 40-something Bob is an experienced adopter and lives on a large property with no kids or other pets. At 6’7” he seemed perfect for a gentle giant of a dog, especially one in need of extra attention.   

Bob was determined to use his unique situation to help a hard-luck case, which he found online with a regional rescue: an adult Rottweiler mix who had been in foster care for a long time. For this dog, the rescue required a commitment to working with a professional dog trainer. Bob dove into the challenge, working around the clock on training and socialization, which his new pal learned quickly.  

Then the unfathomable happened. In a surprise encounter with another dog, there was a terrible fight. Bob got hurt trying to break it up, and it proved fatal for both dogs. The second dog died from his injuries. Bob’s dog — after extensive heart-wrenching discussions with the rescue group, the trainer and the veterinarian — was euthanized.  

Bob (who is not using his real name here) is devastated. The life he tried to save is gone, along with another. 

The life and death struggle of rescue  

Shelters and rescues maintain detailed data on animals received, adopted, euthanized, returned after adoption, or transferred to other facilities. They have no means of tracking how every dog or cat fares in life after adoption, but outcomes like Bob’s are exceptional. 

While Bob’s case is unusual, it does highlight one important, sobering truth: adopters engage in a transaction unlike any other. A life hangs in the balance.  

Given increasing save rates and declining euthanasia rates in the Northwest, these days few dogs or cats die while waiting for adoption. Now, they live or die based on whether they can overcome the health or behavioral problems that made them homeless in the first place. 

“Everyone needs to know that there are no time limits in shelters in our area, so people don't need to ‘save’ dogs from shelters,” says BJ Anderson, executive director at Willamette Humane Society in Salem. There is no clock ticking, no “pull date” for shelter animals in our region. Thanks to hard-won save rates and collaborative efforts between shelters and rescue groups, the old “time limit” idea is an outdated one.  

Old challenges have been replaced by new ones. Anderson says, “Our shelter sees two trends in our local dog population: younger, larger, poorly-socialized dogs with mild to moderate behavior issues that impact adoptability; and geriatric, cute, desirable dogs with compound medical issues that require a lot of resources to be considered adoption candidates.”  

In the new model of cooperation, agencies can shift animals around the region to give them the best chance for rehabilitation and adoptability. 

Diane Young operates one of those agencies, Salem Dogs, which handles special-needs animals. Under her watch, dogs get medical and behavioral care while she searches out adopters most suited to their needs. Often, the ideal family isn’t the first one to express interest. “Adopting a young Border Collie to a sedate senior citizen home is usually not a good idea,” says Young. “Same with placing fragile dogs in homes with young children. Adopters need to cooperate with rescues to make the best match.”  

This brings front and center a primary pain-point between rescuers and adopters.  

“We have had people yell at us when we explain a particular dog would not be a good fit for them,” says Bobbi Roach, who volunteers with Oregon Dog Rescue in Tualatin. She wishes she could tell every adopter: “Please trust the rescue volunteers that work with the dogs every day.” 

Flexibility is key  

Roach likens her job to playing matchmaker between friends. “It’s a very real challenge, and often leads to fits of hair-pulling and head-banging,” she says. Adopters might arrive with their hearts set on a floppy-eared dog, but, “That floppy-eared dog may not like your children. You live in an apartment and Floppy Ear has severe separation anxiety, which will not endear him or you to your neighbors while you’re gone nine hours a day. You have a cat, you say? Floppy Ear hates cats.” 

The future of saving lives 

Pacific Northwest shelters are winning in the mission of saving lives. The Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland, combining animal welfare resources in the Metro Area, has achieved an 89 percent drop in euthanasia rates in nine years. Just down the freeway, Willamette Humane receives half as many animals as it did a decade ago, and saves a larger percentage of those. 

Professionals like Anderson are now tackling the next life-saving challenge: preventing animals from becoming homeless in the first place. This will require a shift in expectations. “We live very busy lives and expect our pets to accommodate our schedules — to be quiet when left alone and grasp housetraining in 24 hours; to always get along with kids and cats and dogs, and to never have issues like resource guarding.” With more families properly prepared to handle behavioral challenges, veterinary expenses, and the pitfalls of moving with pets, shelters will move beyond being the “halfway houses for pets surrendered due to lack of resources or knowledge,” and more will stay in their homes for life. 

The Citizen’s Life-Saving Toolkit 

In the work of saving more lives, it takes a village, a city, a state, a region. Here is advice from our rescue experts on how every individual can lend a hand: 

1.     Advocate, but do it with care. “The social media fervor for rescue isn’t really doing the best it could,” says BJ Anderson. It may help to share adoptable pets on Facebook, but only if your post links directly to details about the animal’s current status. Remember too that California municipal shelters with higher euthanasia rates don’t reflect our local reality.  

2.     Remember the most basic things are the most effective. “Adopt a rescue dog, spay/neuter every dog and cat, license/chip every dog and cat, keep ID on at all times, and comply with leash laws,” says Diane Young. 

3.     If you’re looking to adopt a dog or cat, “trust what volunteers tell you,” cautions Bobbi Roach. “If it’s a good match, they’ll be more than happy to adopt to you.” 

4.     Expect the unexpected. Pet-friendly rental deposits and landlord restrictions can be steep. Veterinary expenses can run into the hundreds and thousands, especially as pets age. BJ Anderson hopes veterinary insurance will become the norm to help people budget. For eye-opening price ranges on everything from grooming to pet sitting to emergency surgery, visit

Michelle Blake is a Salem, OR-based massage therapist and freelance writer whose work has appeared in national publications. Her husband wants you to know that she's a REALLY crazy dog lady too.

Meet the Rescues: Underdog Railroad Rescue

What matchmakers do 

Underdog Railroad, a small nonprofit rescue in Portland, saves dogs locally and from high-kill California shelters. Dogs are fostered until healthy, then placed in forever homes.

It all started five years ago, when URR founder Jody Kurilla saw a 10-year-old Poodle on Pet Connect who was to be euthanized the following morning in San Bernardino.

Jody booked a flight (two to get there, two to get home), and the next day had Fifi onboard. “She cried and cried, so I held her, and told her she was going home. She went to sleep, and slept all the way home.”  Fifi’s been home ever since.

Pet Connect thought Jody did a great job, and soon called about another dog. Jody responded, and this one — also scheduled to die — was adopted quickly.

Intrigued, Jody contacted local rescues, asking: “Am I crazy? Should I do this?”

“Pixie was one . . . she said she thought I’d do great work and that I should.”

URR is devoted to those who will be killed if not rescued, who “no one is coming for,” including “medical, old, or behavioral dogs,” says Jody, adding that they take all ages and breeds — “a variety of dogs.”

Jody says the rescue isn’t “looking for numbers,” but for great matches, one tail at a time.

“We’re like dating . . . a matchmaking service.”

And they’re serious. Recently a woman with cats was considering an adoptable dog. Volunteers did a home visit, spending no less than two hours, “just to make sure the dog and cats would do fine,” Jody smiles. They did.

The all-volunteer group is foster-based, “so we really get to know the dogs and can make great matches.” They share stories and photos on Facebook “from the time they’re received until they go home,” says Jody, adding, “People love it.”

This inspired the creation of a video — launching soon as part of a new campaign — based on a piece by a performance artist at MOMA. Jody hopes the film will move others the way Fifi moved her.

The stories are endless. A favorite of Jody’s shows the before and after of a little guy left in the drop box at a shelter. Ugly with mange when he arrived, Jody says his ‘after’ shots “make you go What!? Can’t be the same dog.”

Following the mantra of one tail at a time, Jody says if they are anything, it’s careful. “We’re taking the dogs that no one has responded to . . . headed for euthanasia. Then we’re working to get them in front of that someone (they are out there) for whom this is their forever dog.”

In five short years, URR has written countless love stories that without them would have ended before they began. Their dreams for the future are no less profound, and continue their legacy of love.

Because that’s what matchmakers do. And Underdog Railroad does it well, one tail at a time.

Get to know them and see stories you won’t forget (for all the right reasons) on Facebook, and at

—    Kristan Dael

Meet the Rescues: Pixie Project

Here for ALL of them

Homeless pets come to The Pixie Project from everywhere -- overcrowded rural Oregon shelters, “Texas, California, strays, owners who can't keep them, it's all a combination," says executive director Amy Sacks. "We're here for all of them."

At this nonprofit animal rescue and adoption center located in NE Portland, adoption is a fun, positive, family-friendly experience that’s all about getting pets into lifelong homes.

"Our dogs and cats go through a LOT of behavior assessment,” says Sacks, “and they are carefully matched to improve the success of a happy adoption.”  

Sacks believes a bad adoption can ruin the future for other homeless pets later in a family's life. 

"If people get a bad fit they’re likely to go out and buy their next dog or cat. To me, you can save one dog, or save all the dogs that family may adopt in the future if you make a great match."

Sacks and her team are diligent about ensuring every pet they deem adoptable is behaviorally and medically ready to be homed. "Whatever has to be done to get a behaviorally sound dog or cat ready for adoption, we will take care of," she says, which sometimes includes extensive surgery.

The belief that spay/neuter to prevent unwanted births is key in minimizing animal suffering is one reason The Pixie Project also operates The Scott Wainner Pixie Care Clinic, providing low-income and homeless pet owners access to vital veterinary care including spay/neuter, emergency services, dental extractions, amputations, mass removals, and other life-saving surgeries.

"When you have senior people with 12-year-old animals, and you look at resources spent, it's better to address the need of the pet owner and keep that pet home where it is cared for and loved," Sacks says. "Typically that pet has been with their beloved owner their entire life. Why should a senior feel forced to surrender a pet due to expenses? Senior animals have very limited adoption opportunities. Why separate them?"

The Pixie Project team is committed to the adoption process start to finish, interviewing applicants carefully, and discussing what they seek in a beloved companion. They also tell clients up front that a "perfect match" may take time -- but it’s worth it.

"The more we can make adoption an experience people love, the more people can trust this system and the less animals are put to sleep,” says Sacks.

Want to help?

"We always have a need for foster parents, and being in a home setting lets us better assess a dog or cat when it's time to place them." Also needed are donations (including vehicles) and volunteers. Other ways to help include attending a fundraiser or purchasing Fetch eyewear or items on Pixie’s Wish List from Amazon. Learn more at

—    Christy Caballero

Meet the Rescues: OFOSA

Wanted:  OFOSA Heroes

What began in 2001 with just five animal-loving people has become what is today one of the most active shelters in the Northwest. Chalking up 1600 adoptions in 2015, OFOSA Board President Cathy Nechak expects they’ll complete well over 2000 adoptions this year.

Partnering with Best Friends Animal Society and other leading organizations, in recent months OFOSA has been called upon by Best Friends to help the “little Cajuns” — animals left behind or lost and unclaimed during and after the Louisiana flood.

“We got five heartworm-positive dogs,” says Cathy, underscoring one of the things for which OFOSA has historically been known: caring for those others will not. “These dogs have a 99 percent chance of survival,” Cathy says. “I don’t expect them to die.”

An interesting thing came up when preparing to transport these dogs, which included puppies. “Where’s the mom?” Cathy wanted to know. Told they thought OFOSA wouldn’t want her, Cathy asked, “Why, is she not nice?” They replied, “Oh, she’s wonderful!”

Mom made the transport. “We don’t leave moms behind,” says Cathy — “not our style.”

What is their style is being heroes to pets who have none — and doing it right. “When things get tight, others cut staff. We don’t,” says Cathy, adding, “I’m a firm believer in having one caretaker for every 12 dogs. They need to be fed, kept clean, exercised and loved.”

Which brings us to the critical focus currently in play for this important member of the NW rescue community: closing the gap. This time, OFOSA needs heroes.

Adoption fees generally cover exams and tests for disease, vaccinations, microchipping, and flea, heartworm and other treatments as needed. Sometimes the cost of these necessary steps are just a dollar or two less than the adoption fee for the pet.

As year-end approaches, OFOSA needs to close the gap in order to continue its important work. 200 OFOSA Heroes contributing just $10 per month can do just that.

Could you be a Hero? A member of the OFOSA 200?  In addition to the joy of knowing you’ll be helping to save yet another 2000 (or more) sweet pets’ lives, you’ll have the honor and the pleasure of bragging rights. Contributors will receive an “OFOSA Hero” digital “badge” to share on social media, and a great bracelet that goes with everything — but looks especially great with the sparkle in your eye that says: “I saved a life and I liked it!”

Be a Hero. Call or email OFOSA today, and feel the love.

OFOSA holds adoption events weekly at partner PetSmart stores in Cedar Hills, Hillsboro, Wilsonville, and Tanasbourne. They’d love to meet you, talk more about how you can help, and introduce you to some of the amazing little rock stars — including many “little Cajuns” who survived unimaginable tragedy but are smiling and full of life . . . and ready to meet the new love of their life!

—    Kristan Dael

Note: Carolyn Ackerman, owner/operator of Let Carolyn Paint it, has been beautifying homes and commercial buildings with painting and other services for 20 years. A lifelong animal lover, Carolyn’s business donates 50% of the proceeds from every job to animal rescue. She supports OFOSA by underwriting this story.

Meet the Rescues: Bonnie Hays

If you're a homeless pet, the Bonnie L. Hays Small Animal Shelter leaves a light on for you.

The shelter takes in all stray animals in Washington County. “We are one of the safest counties in America to be a homeless pet,” says Jennifer Keene, the shelter’s Animal Behavior and Outreach Coordinator for the shelter. “We work extremely hard to make sure every animal has the best possible outcome.”

Job one is returning animals to their owners

The shelter staff not only scans for microchips and identification on animals coming into the shelter, they also actively search craigslist and other social media looking for people who have lost pets that might be a match for those in the shelter. As a result, the shelter's return-to-owner rate is "two to three times the national average," says Keene.

"When Animal Services Officers pick animals up in the field. We prefer to reunite the pet with the owner, rather than bring them in and impound them and charge more fees," she shares, adding that they often agree to deliver animals to the owner’s home. t"We always want to return the pet as quickly and easily as possible. Our officers and shelter staff are pretty awesome."

Dogs and cats not reunited with their owners — like strays with outdated microchips or no ID at all or animals whose owners choose not to come for them — find a second life at the shelter.

Animals are rehabilitated mentally and physically

The Bonnie Hays Animal Shelter has an in-house veterinarian and community partnerships with other veterinarians, so animals who aren't healthy when they come in can be saved. “For example, Roy, a stray cat recently brought in, had been attacked and his wounds were infected. Staff cleaned his wounds and treated in for infection and pain. He will recover in foster care and then be available for adoption.

Staff and volunteers also provide behavior enrichment, interventions and training for animals in the shelter in order to keep them mentally healthy during their stay and to prepare them for adoption. "We have a read-to-dogs program that's really popular with our volunteers," Keene says. "The dogs sit and listen to someone speaking to them in a pleasant voice; it's a break from the shelter environment, time like they would have in a home."

Even challenging pets find homes. While the shelter adopts out hundreds of animals every year, it also works very closely with a wide variety of local, reputable rescue groups that can be a better environment than the shelter for some pets.

"We’ve had adopters choose pets they know have cancer, or chronic illnesses requiring ongoing care, or the elderly. We’ve adopted out 14-year-old pets. It's amazing. People open their hearts to the less perfect ones and that's so encouraging."

The numbers reflect this shelter's success.

"Our success is due to collaboration between staff, volunteers, donors and community — even someone calling because they see a dog running in traffic — we really can't do what we do without our community."

Keene loves working with pets, but says, "It's also the relationship between people and their animals. I'll see a car come tearing in, practically on two wheels, and I'll just know — someone's here to pick up a lost pet! The pure joy, the pet they were worried they'd never see again, is here at the shelter, safe. It's a beautiful thing."

~Christy Caballero

Who Rescued Who?

Following are some of the beauties who participated in Spot's Cover Model Search at the 2016 NW Pet Fair.  They are all rescues, and their families have generously shared their wonderful stories here.  Watch for more Cover Models in coming issues.  Our 2016 Cover Model winner appears on the cover of the October/November 2016 issue.

Titus and Willow

In October 2008 we went to visit the dogs at West Columbia Gorge Humane Society. Titus (a sweet, large Border Collie-Lab mix) stole both our hearts and he became our first baby. Titus is happy, healthy, and is now a big brother to our two children, and most recently to Willow, our 2nd rescue dog! We met Willow this spring and fell in love all over again! Our fears of having two dogs has vanished, and we will always have at least two furry friends in our lives. We thought we were doing these dogs a huge favor by rescuing them, but truly, Titus and Willow have rescued us. We are forever grateful to the people doing rescue work in our community, and know that our lives are better because of our two furry family members.

Susan & Steve Fronckowiak





(Picture is of Titus and our son Alex in the summer of 2009 & other picture is of Willow after we adopted her in the spring of 2016)

Bo Diddley

We met Bo Diddley at an Oregon Dog Rescue adoption event at PetSmart. He was so cute, but he also appeared scared and lonely. We were told he had been brought from Riverside, CA by car. I loved him at first sight, but my husband wasn’t sure about him. We brought him home and he liked our house, but was shy and frightened of everything and everyone. Afraid of walks in the neighborhood, Bo would look back at the house over and over as we walked toward the park behind it. It was as though he wanted to be sure he would be able to find his way back if we took him away for good. But after a few months he loved going on walks, knowing he would always go home. We also have a fairly big backyard where he plays. Shortly bringing him home, it was clear Bo loved this big area he could run around in every day. He loves racing around a big tree, excitement in his eyes. Oh, and my husband has become Bo's best buddy! They play during the day and snuggle at night. When my husband comes home from work, Bo runs to greet him at the door tail wagging. Our life wouldn't be the same without Bo Diddley.

Susan Diane Rudi 

MacGee the Westie

All day when I was at the Pet Fair, people wanted to pet him and take his picture. He soaked it up. He is such a happy dog, and my third Westie.

MacGee was rescued from the Columbia County Humane Society. He immediately looked at my daughter and I and said "take me home." We did. 


Marilyn Guillory and of course MacGee.


A little over a year ago, while searching for a larger apartment, my husband suggested we get a dog once we were settled. I couldn't quite believe him at the time. I wanted a dog so badly but thought it would be years before he agreed to it. Finding an apartment that allowed larger dogs was complicated, but I knew it wouldn't be nearly as difficult as finding a single dog I wanted to adopt over all the others. There are so many dogs, and I am easily overwhelmed by choices. I decided to narrow my options and look only into dogs not easily homed. In my search I came across Deaf Dogs of Oregon (DDO) and realized that a deaf dog would be perfect for me. I knew that I wanted to train my dog anyway, and was not concerned about training with hand signals. When I emailed DDO the only dog they had at the time was Jester. He was a Deaf and Blind Catahoula Leopard brought up from Oklahoma a few months earlier.

I was concerned at first at not being able to use sign language for commands, but the DDO trainer assured me I could teach him many things with touch signals. It's now been a year since we got him, and I figure that Jester understands close to 20 different touch signals we use regularly. Jester is only about 2.5 years old, and he’s the most enthusiastic dog I've been with. He is not fazed by bumping into things or finding himself in a new area. When we're at the dog park I have to regularly explain his disabilities to people and they hardly believe it because Jester runs around with so much confidence. The best thing about working with him is how excited he is to learn new commands. I try to bring Jester to every DDO event to demonstrate his tricks and show people how capable he is. I thought that finding my first dog was going to be a long stressful process, but it turned out to be the easiest and best decision I have made as a young adult. 

I have included a picture of jester when we first got him but we also have an album for him on Instagram: 

Emily Foreman


We got Sassy, our chocolate Pomeranian, when she was 10 weeks old. At that young age she had been left alone 10-16 or more hours every day and was punished for piddling on the kitchen floor. She was put in a kennel at night as a punishment for barking and whining during the day when home alone.

Sassy has extreme separation anxiety, and until just recently, was deathly afraid to go in our kitchen — but she conquered that fear by herself! She is three now and is happy, and of course goes everywhere we do. She loves camping at the beach (she rides on my atv with me) and swimming in our pool, and she has a nice big yard of which she's “the Boss.”

She's the most important member of our family to all of us!

The Booth Family


Oliver was rescued from the street after my daughters spotted him running loose. No one claimed him, and we instantly fell in love. He was matted, filthy and scared. With grooming he looked like a brand new dog. We taught him how to play and he fell in love with us. Later it seemed he was having eyesight issues, and this was confirmed. He had cataracts and both retinas were detached. Our little guy must have endured some trauma in his past. His eye became red and swollen, and the vet recommended removal for Oliver's comfort. We agreed; the eye was removed, and Oliver never complained. Although he is blind, he is the happiest pup around. He loves car rides and walks. His favorite place is the beach where he can run on the smooth sand with no worries of bumping into things. He navigates throughout his home, inside and outside, with ease. (We haven't moved the furniture in 5 years!) Oliver has blessed our lives in so many ways. He truly is a member of our family.

Jennifer Buckhalter and family

Rambo, Bear & Sassy

Rambo, Bear & Sassy


In April 2012 I saw a craigslist post from Tacoma, WA picturing an overweight Corgi. I wanted to share this with our Corgi group but needed details. Speaking with the owner I learned they were rehoming “Bear” due to a medical condition, but that no one wanted to come get him and he had to be out by noon the following day. Concerned for his wellbeing, and what might happen, I told them I would come get him.

I had not intended to keep Bear but to foster him because I already had two Corgis, Rambo and Sassy, who I’d raised from puppies.  When I arrived I found an overweight, dirty dog with no collar, leash or paperwork. Just food dishes and a bed, which looked like they’d been pulled from the trash, or had long been outside. Bear however was a sweetheart. He came up and sniffed me, then jumped up to greet me, smiling and wagging. The person gave me his shoe-string leash and Bear started immediately down the driveway to leave. He jumped in my car and heart that night. The drive home was long, and Bear looked at me and rested his head on my hand the whole way, melting my heart. He stayed near me from that point on, and would cry/howl (the whole first year) when I had to leave for a few days. When I thought I had found someone to adopt him, Bear would stick to my side and not go anywhere near them. So, since it seemed he wanted to be with me, and was scared/timid around everyone else, he became a permanent part of our Corgi Pac. Bear is now the center of the Pac, an outgoing love bug who loves all and protects all. I could not have asked for a better addition to our family.  

Jennifer Robinson

Editor’s Note: Jennifer Robinson is Organizer of the Corgi meetup group in Portland and of Corgi Day at the Beach. The group routinely shares Corgis who need loving homes.  


My name is Orbit and I reside in Vancouver, WA.  I am a 2.5-year-old, 45-lb extremely high-energy double-Merle female Aussie, born deaf and blind. But this does not keep me from having fun and going for outings with my peeps! I am very familiar with my house and backyard and move around perfectly within them. I also go for long walks with Mama every day, knowing asphalt means to walk straight ahead and grass means I can cut loose and run fast in orbits (my FAVORITE thing!!) while the sod beneath my feet goes flying, cracking Mama up! We communicate by touch signals and lots of hugs and kisses. Oh, I need to mention that I also live with four felines who often taunt me by slowly walking close to me, then jumping to a high place when I catch their scent. I humor them by giving chase but my feathery tail wags all the while.

While I love my forever home, the real credit for my rescue goes to Double J Dog Ranch and owners Duane and Cristine Justus who, along with volunteers, take in, love and care for other K-9s like myself at their beyond beautiful nonprofit sanctuary next to Hauser Lake in Idaho. They sponsor fun events to spread love and awareness about us very special dogs. Please see their website to learn more about them and see where I lived before I was adopted and moved to Vancouver. At DJDR, they believe that "Special needs pets are perfect in every way that matters."  (No truer words...)

I give Spot Magazine a Paws Up and thank them for offering me the opportunity to tell my happy story.  I recently met them at the 2016 NW Pet Fair, where I was greeted with warm, open arms and so much love.🐾  (I delighted them by turning endless orbits)

With love and appreciation,

Orbit Frost 


had a kitty from a co-worker’s cat’s litter. I wanted to get a second one so went to Willamette Humane in Salem. I saw a kitty I liked but wasn’t sure about. I looked at many other kittens but kept thinking of the pretty little Calico. After a month I decided to see if the she was still there, with little hope she would be. I was shocked that she was. The lady helping me said most people who looked at Kelly (what they’d named her) were put off by her loud, almost annoying meowing. I took a chance that once home and no longer locked up she would be fine, which turned out to be the case. I named her Cali and she has been with me going on 16 years. 

Joan Moorhea

What to do . . . If you’ve LOST or FOUND a pet

If your pet is MISSING  

It’s so scary when a pet becomes lost — countless what-ifs, and the fear you might never see them again. Following are tips to prevent your pet getting lost, and what to do if it happens.  

Microchip and keep contact info current. The majority of reunions are thanks to microchips. Causes for separation are many — don’t make the mistake of believing it can’t happen to you.  

Keep collars/current tags on. Cats often lose collars; if yours roams, check to be sure it’s still on, and if not, replace it immediately. Machines at pet and even grocery stores make it easy (and affordable) to get a new tag on the fly.  

Keep current photos. Those on your phone can be sent to your computer to make a flier if needed. 

Fortunately, unlike humans, you needn’t wait 24 hours after a pet goes missing to report it. Start the search checking nearby places; for cats this includes all nooks and crannies — they can hide in unbelievably small spaces. Talk to neighbors, including kids, who are more often outdoors and usually love pets (and helping).  

Check local shelters and lost pet postings at local veterinary clinics, pet stores, and nearby businesses. Have fliers ready to post as well — fliers should have a decent photo, a brief, clear description, where/when your pet was last seen, and contact information.  

Get online. Post your flier, or your pet’s photo and info, on Facebook, craigslist,, and any other sites with lost/found pages — including shelters and vet hospitals. Keep posts current and be available for people to reach you. Don’t give up hope. Pets go missing every day and there are many happy endings.  

NOTE:  Visit the shelter, don’t just call. Staff and volunteers carry a heavy load, and are caring for many pets — potentially making it tough for them to spot yours. You, on the other hand, will likely sight your sweetpea almost instantly if he or she is there. 

If you’ve FOUND a pet  

Finding a lost pet can be exhilarating as well as stressful. Did someone abandon him? Is s/he injured or unwell? Does s/he have a family missing him or her, or could s/he have been mistreated or abandoned?  

Social media is packed with stories of mistreated pets, so it’s easy to assume that if a pet is lost s/he didn’t have a good pet parent. But that’s not always the case. Pets go missing for any number of reasons. Fireworks. Construction or remodeling. New babysitters. Kids coming and going, leaving doors ajar.  

First things first

Will the animal come willingly, so you can get him or her to safety and investigate where s/he belongs? If yes, here are tips for helping get a lost pet home.  

-        If the pet has tags, try the contact information.

-        Have a veterinarian scan for a microchip. If s/he is chipped, contact the registered owner.

-        If no tag or microchip, hopefully the vet will do a quick wellness exam, and they or you can contact the local animal shelter who will take over from there.  

You can do more

-        Being a good citizen, you can post all the same ads you would if your pet was lost. Contact local clinics to see if they have a patient matching the pet’s description and post a description and photo(s) of the found pet on Facebook, craigslist and where family — or friends of the family — might see it.

-        Most animal shelters must hold a pet for a set number of days before making him or her available for adoption. This is when the chance is greatest for reuniting the pet with its family.  

Unable to capture

If you cannot get the pet, don’t force it. Some may react aggressively purely out of fear. Also, you don’t want to spook the pet and potentially lose sight of it or put it in harm’s way. Contact animal control for help. Stay in the vicinity with the pet if you can. Try not to corner him or her, but do try luring and building trust with food or treats. If all efforts fail, from time to time a lost pet will linger in the area. Put out food and fresh water and keep an eye on social media pages. Contact shelters and veterinary clinics, and even post ‘FOUND’ posters in the area. Hopefully his or her family will spot one and comb the area. Often a pet is just waiting for someone familiar. 


Bonnie L Hays Animal Shelter, West Side  *

 Clackamas County Dog Services  *

 Family Dogs New Life Shelter  *

 Humane Society for SW Washington  *

 Multnomah County Animal Services  *

 Oregon Humane Society  *

 Oregon Friends of Shelter Animals  *

 The Pixie Project  *

 Make fliers:

What to do...If you FIND an INJURED Pet

Getting to work one morning, I once found an injured duck. The air was crisp, and dense fog hung low to the ground. While gathering my things I heard a sound. Moving to go in, I saw him – a beautiful duck sheltered under a bush against the side of the building. 

He wasn’t likely a pet, but he was injured. My first instinct was to help. My next thought was: how? I couldn’t very well just grab him and put him in my car. Where could I take him? The answer is both simple and complicated.

First and Foremost:

Don’t put yourself at risk. Don’t stop suddenly in the middle of the road and cause an accident. You can’t help anyone if you harm yourself. 

Capture, Contain

-        If you cannot capture the animal while keeping it and you safe, seek help. If you can, approach calmly, reassuring the animal with a low, soothing voice.

-        If you have a towel or blanket, wrap the animal to keep it from biting and to act as a sling/support for transport. If possible, place the animal in a carrier/crate or box — injured animals can be unpredictable.

-        Get to the vet. Most veterinarians will assess, triage and, if needed, humanely euthanize an injured animal. If the pet survives, the vet will immediately scan for a chip. “You cannot put a price on the value of a microchip,” says Michelle Vincent of Halsey East Animal Clinic in Portland. “We reunite 99 percent of injured pets with their families thanks to microchips.”

-        If the pet survives but has no ID or microchip, the clinic will contact its partner county shelter. The shelter will then take custody of the pet. Vincent reiterates: “Sometimes people don’t check with the shelter soon enough; once again, please microchip your pets!”  

Injured Wildlife

If you find an injured wild animal, the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) recommends calling them, the Oregon State Police, or a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. The DFW recommends not moving or removing the animal — often young are left while parents and adults seek food. Unless you are certain an animal is injured, it’s best to leave well enough alone or to call an expert. It is illegal to take in and keep captive many wild animals. Plus, improper care can do more harm than good. Fortunately we live in a region with resources for all animals — wild and domesticated. Contact them promptly to give the animal the best shot at recovery.  

Suit up to Show up

If you’re an animal lover and want to be prepared to help a critter in need, compile a rescue kit for the car. Include phone numbers of shelters, emergency clinics, and special resources like those below, a carrier, crate, or cardboard box, blanket and/or towel, bottled water, a dish, leash and collar, pet first aid kit, and fragrant treats. 

Above and beyond all, think safety first for all involved. Call for help if needed. Report the injured animal to the authorities — they will help determine next best steps based on long expertise and experience 


Contact the agency handling the type of animal found. 

Injured or Orphaned Wildlife/Birds

  • Audubon Society 503-292-0304
  • DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital 503-228-7281
  • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife 971-673-6000
  • Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife 360-696-6211

Wildlife Law Enforcement

  • Oregon State Police 503-375-3555
  • Washington Department of Wildlife 360-902-2936 (enforcement), 877-933-9847 (poaching, dangerous animals)
  • US Fish and Wildlife (Federal Regulations) 503-231-6125 

Domestics, Exotics and Other Animals

  • Oregon Humane Society 503-285-7722
  • Humane Society of SW Washington (Vancouver) 360-693-4746
  • Multnomah County Animal Services 503-248-3066
  • Clackamas County Dog Services 503-655-8628
  • Washington County Animal Services 503-681-7110
  • Clark County Animal Services 360-397-2488
  • DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital 503-228-7281


Spotlight on...The Collie

Matchmaker, Matchmaker


Size: 40-60 lbs

Grooming needs:  Heavy seasonal shedding — requires brushing

Exercise:  High

Environment:  Indoor with outdoor time

Temperament:  Loyal, active, protective, gentle

Life Expectancy: 14-16 years

Interesting Facts:  The Collie was originally called the Scotch Collie for the country in which it was used to herd sheep. Early settlers to North America, such as the Pilgrims, may have brought the Collie to the US.

Appearance:  This breed is often considered among the most beautiful. The elegant appearance is thanks to a long, tapered muzzle, a long, muscular body with a beautiful long (rough) or short (smooth) coat. Unlike many working breeds, Collies have a long, smooth tail.

Personality:  This is a very active and smart breed. The Collie thrives on attention and will become bored if not occupied. Though not used as a herding dog as often as in the past, the Collie loves to have a job, including activities like agility work. Puppies must be well socialized to prevent shyness. The Collie is very devoted, sensitive and affectionate toward his family, and many owners report that they seem to have telepathic abilities.

Common Health Problems:  Eye ailments, particularly Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and Collie Eye Anomaly, may be seen. The breed may have a bad reaction to some heartworm preventatives.

Best Match:  Collie pet parents should be interested in spending time and doing active things with their pup. If bored, the Collie has a tendency to bark. This breed would like to have room to run off leash, and needs sufficient daily exercise.  Collies tend to excel at agility, flyball, obedience and herding. They also excel as search and rescue and therapy dogs. The Collie is a great companion and tends to do well with children and enjoys playing with them.  

Featured Adoptable:  Beau and Bella are 7-year-old purebred Rough Collies. Beau is beautifully trained, in excellent shape, and loves people!  He and litter sister, Bella, have lived together their entire lives so they MUST be adopted together. Bella is a love bug! She is crazy about people. She is beautifully leash trained and likes riding in a car . . . as long as Beau is with her! She is fine with cats and other dogs. Fenced, secure space required. Visit Cascade Collie Rescue at

Megan Mahan lives in Manhattan with her fiance, Jacob, and their French Bulldog, Nono.