When helping one serves many —patients, pets and hospital staff

 Shannon Priem with FETCH dog Miss Poppy

Shannon Priem with FETCH dog Miss Poppy

Marketing/PR professional Shannon Priem of Salem says her first word as a child wasn’t “mommy” or “daddy,” but “kitty.”

Priem works part-time in marketing for Salem Health, and been a board member of the Willamette Humane Society for 10 years.  While both roles gave her plenty to do, five years ago the lifelong animal lover was inspired to do more.

“Our pet policy had gotten relaxed over the years” says Priem, “so patients brought all kinds of pets to their hospital rooms — including, on one occasion, a duck in a diaper.” This eventually took its toll on staff. “Nurses were changing litterboxes,” she says. That changed in 2013, when a new policy prohibited pets on the hospital campus “except service or therapy animals.”

The impact of the new policy on patients coming into the ER was quickly apparent to both Priem and security staff; patients frequently brought dogs with them to the ER, or panicked when they realized pets were left at home. “It didn’t take long to realize they might go AWOL (leave the hospital against medical advice) because they were more worried about their pet than their own health.”

Many patients in this type of scenario are older with little or no family or support, homeless, or otherwise struggling with slim resources, if any.

“Usually in cases like these,” Priem says, “good samaritans working at the hospital would say, ‘Okay, I’ll take care of the pet.’” The problem was, caring for animals took time and energy that staff needed to focus on patient care.

Bothered by the dilemma, Priem approached administration with an idea: “What if I could be your ace in the hole — your secret service on call, day or night to help?” Given the go-ahead, she brainstormed with security staff and soon began FETCH, Fido’s Emergency Team for Caring Hospitals.

“I look at it as, ‘if it’s got a heartbeat, we’ll care for them.’ They’re human. If that means caring for their dog or cat, then that’s what we’ll do,” says Priem. A gift from the Salem Health Foundation enabled FETCH to partner with the Willamette Humane Society for emergency boarding, helping even more animals.

Today, FETCH has a handful of stalwart volunteers — including some hospital staff — who will come day or night to take a pet, and five on call. Those who help or have helped range in age from teens to over 70.

FETCH is always “on call” for hospital care managers or social workers who typically help patients with limited resources with things like finding a skilled nursing facility, transportation home, etc. The group also works with hospital security staff.

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The need arises frequently — nowadays averaging two calls per week. Priem has many stories about the cases she’s handled — FETCH has cared for more than 110 animals since 2013, helping keep families together. “I’m not one to brag, but I wouldn’t be surprised if my FETCH team saved a couple of lives here and there,” she says.

She tells of one patient who arrived at the ER needing but refusing life-saving care when staff moved to take her dog.  She said, “If I can’t have Jonathon with me, I can’t go on living.”

Staff got Jonathan into her hospital room to wait for her after surgery. ”His little nose was pressed against a crack in the door for an hour; he knew she was coming,” says Priem. “When she arrived, he hopped in her bed to lick her face, and she soon went back to sleep. From that second, I knew we needed FETCH.”

Another story tells of a gentleman with a life-threatening infection who’d put up his dog in a motel and then walked several miles to the ER. A long-haul driver, after receiving help — for himself and his dog —told Priem, “You don’t even know me, and you rescued my dog from a motel.” The grateful gentleman said he was going to look into helping others this way when he got home.

Felix, a 25-pound cat, was left behind in a mobile home. Unable to care for or even lift him, the owner agreed to surrender him for rehoming. “Please find him a good home,” she begged Priem, who said there were three holds on Felix at WHS by prospective adoptive families the first day. Ultimately he was adopted by a counselor, and is reportedly now helping her with grief counseling.

Still another case was a woman who had been homeless for eight years. She had three old dogs who themselves needed medical care. With the help of WHS, the dogs got better. The woman also got better, then found a job and an apartment. “This is a woman who was on the streets for eight years, often going without food so she could feed her dogs!” Priem repeats, still overjoyed with the outcome.

Other cases underscore the value of FETCH to not only the humans it serves, but the pets.

One gentleman came in, leaving behind two Rottweiler/Pit mixes, which were ultimately surrendered to WHS.

“Ozzie was dangerous,” says Priem. “The best trainers at WHS worked with him for 10 months. They didn’t give up. We all saw a special light in his eyes, but there were times . . . I’d get ‘the call’ that he might not make it.

“Then one day it all just clicked, and Ozzie was a different dog. Shortly after, a veteran who had just lost his therapy dog came to WHS. Ozzie walked right up to him. The shelter staff told him, ‘He is your dog!’”

The partnership with WHS is vital to the success of FETCH. “At the drop of a hat an animal can get care and boarding at the shelter, while being in the protective custody of the Salem Health Foundation,” says Priem. “I’ll call and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got two Yorkies.’ They’ll ask if they need vaccinations; I’ll say yes, and they’ll say, ‘Bring them in.’”

“We’ve had pets at WHS for weeks at a time, belonging mostly to people facing health emergencies. But also who are homelessness, elderly, or have no family support.

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FETCH is strictly a private venture. Because volunteers go into unknown, potentially dangerous situations, Priem understands that for now, due to liability issues, it shouldn’t be a formal hospital service. “We assume all personal liability because the need is there, and worth the risk,” she says.  Starting with zero resources, Priem has created legal forms dealing with permissions, liabilities, and the like. She says the partnership between WHS and the Salem Health Foundation is invaluable. “They both fill a critical gap, because you can’t board a pet without current vaccines, and thanks to the foundation, we get that done quickly so our patients get peace of mind . . . and can heal.”

”Word of mouth has increased our work, which means staff really need us,” she says. “They really care about our patients, so I’ve become their hidden asset!”  If the need continues to grow, she says she hopes FETCH will become a more formalized hospital program.

For now, “A case manager [from the hospital] will call — I know there’s a pet in need just by the phone number — and I have forms for patients to sign so I can go feed the pet at home, or do whatever’s needed.”

Priem welcomes anyone interested in starting a program like FETCH in their community to contact her, and to use her forms. Volunteers are also needed to help with anything from feeding or fostering cats and dogs in their homes to donations of pet food and funds, which can be made to the Salem Health Foundation. Contact Priem at spriem@hotmail.com.


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Kristan Dael is a freelance writer and the alter ego of Jennifer Mccammon. She lives in Portland with her pups, and strives to produce articles that inform, edify, engage and entertain.

Land Rover’s gone to the dogs

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Land Rover recently announced that it is launching a range of premium Pet Packs to help Land Rover owners’ four-legged friends travel in the lap of luxury.

Each Pet Pack includes accessories to suit a range of requirements, including a premium quilted load space liner to protect against paw prints, a foldable pet carrier, an access ramp, a spill-resistant water bowl, and portable rinse system for muddy walks.

New app connects pet owners, caregivers

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The TrustedHousesitters app is a new way for pet parents to connect with caring, verified house and pet sitters who are willing to take care of pets for free. Available on the App Store, the app is free to download and enables owners and sitters to connect and stay in touch, no matter where they are in the world. 

Timed to celebrating the app’s launch, TrustedHousesitters compiled culminated a top 100 list, after two years of polling animal lovers in 130 countries about their favorite pet-friendly destinations. Several Oregon venues made the list, including Multnomah Falls, along with several Portland-area cafés — Bipartisan Cafe, Fleur de Lis Bakery & Café, and Barista Café.  

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Bipartisan was the most popular with animal lovers surveyed, ranking #59. Fleur de Lis ranked #62, and Barista ranked #86.  

Greg, Manager of the Fleur de Lis, said, “Dogs and other pets are always welcome . . . . They are considered to be just as important as our human customers. Our patio is comfortable for your pet year round”. 

Also making the list at #95 is Mark Ridges Winery, where pet lovers can soak up the views, live music and wine, while their pooch plays with the two resident Golden Retrievers. 

Tim Lyons, managing director of TrustedHousesitters said: “We are extremely proud of the pet-friendly cafes in Portland, they have put Oregon on the map as a pet-loving state. All four coffee shops and restaurants have had numerous recommendations.” 

See the full list of the 100 most pet-friendly places in the world at trustedhousesitters.com/top-pet-friendly-places.

New green groomer rolls in

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Local marketing professional Greg Robeson has closed his longtime agency to follow two of his greatest passions: dogs and the environment.

Oct 1, Robeson launched Green Whiskers, an earth-friendly mobile pet salon featuring technology that uses up to 90% less water than traditional methods. He began planning the business last year after attempting to schedule mobile grooming for his family’s Golden Retriever, Sally.

After receiving a call-back from just one groomer — which was booked for months — Robeson researched and confirmed a need for more local mobile groomers. He also discovered a grooming system that injects cleaning solution directly onto the fur and skin and then suctions the moisture, using less than one gallon of water (traditional shampooing can use up to 10). Best of all, the technology feels like a massage.

Robeson is committed to a calm, pampering canine experience and outstanding results thanks to an award-winning show groomer. Also in the wings —grain-free vegan cookies that in tests are getting great reviews.

Following the launch of Green Whiskers, Robeson plans to add more mobile salons in the coming years. In support of this, he is hosting a unique GoFundMe campaign, seeking a total of $15,000 from 30 dog lovers who will receive a year’s worth of free grooming.

Learn more at greenwhiskers.com.

A Community of Caring

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Life can deal harsh, unexpected blows. Events like job loss, a serious medical diagnosis, or divorce can turn a person or family’s life upside-down, often straining financial resources in the process. Anyone struggling to keep home, family, and life together well knows that when we feel most vulnerable, we want our pets by our side.

Petlandia is not only passionate about pets, but demonstrably committed to keeping pets and their people fed, healthy, and together. Fortunately for those in need, innovative, local nonprofits are there to help. You can help, too: next time you are at the pet store, consider buying an extra bag for one of the organizations below. To go even further, get another to keep in your car — chances are good while driving around town you’ll encounter someone who could use it.

Providing Sustenance

Knowing that tens of thousands of people struggle to feed themselves and their pets, the Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank’s primary focus is fighting animal hunger to help keep families and pets together and reduce shelter populations. This can be life-saving for humans and animals alike. One client shared that when her life went to pieces, if she’d been forced to give up her dog she might have also given up on life. 

In addition to serving more than 10,000,000 meals to date, the Pongo Fund introduced Pongo One this year, a state-of-the-art mobile veterinary hospital providing free care for the pets of very low-income and homeless people, including seniors, veterans, and more.

In Clackamas County, the FIDO Pet Food Bank distributes food for dogs and cats and works with other agencies to deliver pet food to homebound seniors as well.

House-bound senior citizens often rely on Meals on Wheels America for meals, regular check-ins, and social interaction. In the past, workers discovered hungry seniors were giving up substantial parts of their own meals to feed their pets. Now, seniors with pets can request pet food along with their own meals.

In Washington County, the Cat Adoption Team partners with Meals on Wheels to deliver pet food to homebound clients.

Hope and Care

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When families struggle just to keep everyone fed, an unexpected medical bill can be catastrophic. Routine care, which can prevent big vet bills later in a pet’s life, isn’t always an option.

Good Neighbor Vet answers this need with clinics at partner businesses like pet supply stores and neighborhood retail outlets. Affordable rates for products and services and no-appointment-needed clinics held on weekends make it accessible to some who might not otherwise be able to find time while juggling work and family to get to the vet.

PAW Team works to bring life-saving care and medicine to pets of people experiencing homelessness and poverty. Clients include the terminally ill, disenfranchised youth, and military veterans.

Animal Aid is a broad-reaching organization with deep roots in the community. In addition to operating a shelter for homeless animals, the organization partners with PAW Team to spay and neuter pets through the C-SNIP program, and operates a Care Fund for emergency veterinary assistance in partnership with Portland veterinary clinics.

Keeping Families Intact

JOIN helped nearly a thousand local people last year transition from the streets to safe housing. The organization collects pet food and supplies so people can care for their animals while rebuilding their lives.

The Pixie Project is well known for its work in pet rescue and adoption. But the organization also works to keep pets in their homes by providing food, medical care, medications, and spay/neuter surgeries. 

Resources

AnimalAidPDX.org

CatAdoptionTeam.org/catfoodbank

FidoAniMeals.org

GoodNeighborVet.com

JOINpdx.org

MealsOnWheelsAmerica.org

PAWTeam.org

PixieProject.org

ThePongoFund.org


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A Portland native, Kennedy Morgan, has been around dogs her entire life - from the multitude of strays near the country home of her youth to the crew she calls her own now. Vegas, her retired agility superstar (Great Dane) has been her primary inspiration for all things dog in the last decade, including her passion for writing.

Recreation Mecca for People and Pets

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Around here, whether we’re into snowshoeing or savasana, we often include our furry friends in the adventure.  Here’s a sampling of our regional bounty, from the playful to the practical.

These Shoes Were Made for (Dog) Walking

Petlandia is perfectly perched within easy playtime proximity to mountains, beaches, deserts, and rivers. Naturally it is also home to companies that make everything from running shoes and water socks to insulated parkas.

Now one local company is offering gear for the most popular outdoor adventure: walking with dogs! The Reshod shoe is built to protect walkers from the elements — or even their dogs' paws — whether traversing forest trails or neighborhood sidewalks. 

Portland walking coach and shoe designer Carmen Jackinsky says her Reshod design protects the tops of feet in case they get tromped on, and has a patented midsole that lets walkers easily shift their weight to counteract tugs from an exuberant pooch. Combined with treads designed to grip on slippery surfaces without trapping debris and an even-keeled “zero-drop” footbed for smooth strides, these great new kicks just might become a NW staple.

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Take it to the mat

At Purringtons Cat Lounge, yogis share the mat with adoptable cats for an hour of all-levels yoga followed by a meditative session of lap-warming, purrs, and head bumps. At the lounge on Portland’s NE MLK Boulevard — where visitors can order wine, coffee, and snacks in the cafe — staff say yoga with cats is more than a novelty. 

Purringtons helps cats find homes while encouraging people to relax and socialize among feline friends. They say it’s about joy, happy energy, and “lighting the fire of compassion.” Sunday evening classes offer a warm fuzzy way to prepare for the week ahead.

At PuppYoga in rural Forest Grove, yoga includes warm fuzzies from round-bellied puppies. Trainer Kristin Tarnowski raises assistance dogs, starting their specialized training and socialization almost as soon as they’re born. She saw a chance to socialize pups while treating visitors to adorable wiggles and cuddles, and PuppYoga was born.

Puppies arrive in a cart, like a special delivery of puppy breath and cuddles. Instructors lead classes through puppy-centric asanas like balancing in tree pose while cradling a wiggly pup.

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Rover-Friendly Romps

We also love our fun runs and walks infused with canine cheer. Many local animal charities offer dog-friendly events for all fitness levels. The biggest — Oregon Humane’s Doggy Dash — draws thousands of dog lovers to McCall Waterfront Park each year. Every May, people and pooches walk or run, eat breakfast, shop, play in fountains and doggie pools, and socialize in pure Petlandia style.

During warm-weather months, Animal Aid hosts a variety of pet-centered fitness events. Fitness Fur All features a mix of free and donation-based events including yoga with or without cats, a Bark-be-que, animal massage lessons, and a morning trek through Mt. Tabor. Offerings also include classes like pet nutrition and CPR/First Aid.

Resources:

AnimalAidPDX.org

OregonHumane.org

PuppYoga.com

PurringtonsCatLounge.com

Reshod.com 

- Michelle Blake

Beacon in animal welfare

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In the ongoing fight against animal cruelty, neglect, overpopulation, and homelessness, Petlandia is a beacon of justice and compassion. Here, we have a long history of passing laws and supporting programs that save lives.

Milestone for Oregon Humane Society

As the region’s oldest animal welfare organization, OHS has been fighting animal cruelty since before Portland had paved streets. This year, as the organization marks its 150th birthday, its Portland shelter achieves some of the highest pet adoption numbers in the western US and supports Oregon’s only dedicated team of animal cruelty investigators.

In 1884 and 1885, when mistreated horses used in farming and transportation were a common concern, OHS helped pass the first statewide humane laws. Legislators signed a law imposing a $100 fine and/or 60 days in jail for “Whoever overdrives, overloads, deprives of necessary sustenance, or cruelly beats” an animal.

Today, OHS Staff Attorney and Investigative Lead Emily Lewis says the region’s animal-friendly laws make Oregon a leader. Senate Bill 6 is a celebrated example, and one of Lewis’ favorites in her seven years at OHS. In that groundbreaking 2013 bill, lawmakers increased penalties for certain crimes against animals. It’s significant, she says, in that it “captures Oregonians’ reverence and respect for animals, acknowledging that they’re sentient, and experience pain, stress, and fear. They’re not just regular evidence in a case.”

Oregon is progressive for adding to the list of violations that are felonies, Lewis continues. “If someone has a prior conviction for certain domestic violence crimes, it can make an animal abuse crime a felony versus a misdemeanor. Also, if committed in front of a minor, that’s acknowledged.”

Lewis says she can’t imagine working in any other part of the country, but even in humane-minded Oregon, there’s always more to do. One example is the Oregon pre-conviction forfeiture law, which lets judges and humane agencies put animals in new homes while their alleged abusers await trial. In the past, shelters sometimes held animals in limbo for months or years while the legal wheels slowly turned. “Almost every year we work to make it stronger and more applicable to the cases and issues we’re seeing,” Lewis says.

At the shelter and on her unique team of law enforcement officers, Lewis says, “We’re always looking to help more.”

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Fences for Fido  Unleashes a Humane Trend

When a dozen Portland friends teamed up in May 2009 to build a free fenced yard for a dog named Chopper, they unleashed more than a dog. The friendly yellow Lab mix had watched the world go by from the end of a chain because his family couldn’t afford to fence their corner lot.

When news outlets picked up Chopper’s story, urgent pleas to help other dogs flooded in, citing dogs who had languished alone on chains, exposed to the elements, sometimes for many years.

Volunteers — this writer included — recall that the work took on a life of its own. As they formed the Portland-based nonprofit, Fences For Fido, and scrambled to meet the unrelenting need, the momentum seemed to pick them up and run with them.

Less than a decade later, that group of friends has ballooned to several hundred volunteers who’ve unleashed more than 1800 dogs in Oregon and SW Washington. They’ve also helped change Oregon tether laws and inspired others across the country to follow suit.

Oregon House Bill 2783 took effect January 1, 2014, restricting the number of hours a dog could be tethered to a stationary object and clarifies legal requirements for appropriate animal housing, bedding, and care.

In the years since, states and communities across the US have seen a proliferation of 90-plus laws either limiting or fully banning the practice of keeping dogs on chains. Fences For Fido volunteers supported many of those changes, guiding activists, providing sample bill language, and sharing tips through the group’s outreach effort, dubbed “Unchained Planet.”

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Multnomah County  Folds Up the Circus Tent

Responding to pleas from animal advocates and a flood of testimony and letters from residents, Multnomah County Commissioners voted unanimously July 12 to ban circuses and traveling shows that use exotic animals.

Local resident Andrea Kozil launched the effort in March, approaching Commissioner Sharon Meieran with proposed language for an ordinance. “Wild or exotic animals used in traveling animal displays suffer severe and extended confinement,” Kozil says, and the acts perpetuate the demand for the sale and breeding of the animals. After visiting an exotic animal show to see the practices for herself, Meieran told Kozil she’d champion the ban.

Portland resident Kelly Peterson, who works for the Humane Society of the United States, says her organization counts a total of 137 US communities and four states with similar bans. “I’m so pleased that Multnomah County has been added to such a distinguished list, especially since Oregon continues to be ranked as the second most animal-friendly state in the nation.”

- Michelle Blake

For every creature there is care

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Here in Petlandia, our quirks and eccentricities include a love of unique pets. From beloved backyard chickens to ferrets, clown fish, bearded dragons — and dogs and cats — area veterinarians are prepared with the best medical care to keep our motley menageries in top shape. With everything from high tech to high touch, following are examples of the special creature care you’ll find.

Birds of a feather

Treating feathered friends is quite unlike treating dogs or cats. So, what to do when your African Gray Parrot or Henny Penny needs a doctor? Consider The Avian Medical Center in Lake Oswego. Treating all variety of farm fowl to exotics since 1984, services include routine and preventive care, diagnostics, surgery, pharmacy, and boarding. 

For the love of cats

When finicky felines need veterinary care, transporting them in a little box to a place that smells like DOGS . . . well, we all know how hard that can be.  

Never fear. That’s the approach of cat-centric clinics like The Cat Hospital of Portland in Sellwood-Moreland. This cats-only clinic is a fear-free practice designed with feline comforts in mind. Offering a full range of veterinary care, boarding and grooming services, staff say some kitties even find visits enjoyable. 

Oh, so exotic

Imagine a modern Doctor Doolittle who treats nearly any critter that swims, flies, or slithers. Yep, in Petlandia we’ve got that.

At Northwest Exotic Pet Vet in Beaverton, staff put education at the forefront of the patient relationship, making sure caregivers have the info and resources to provide the best possible care for their exotic pets. The clinic offers a full array of service, from routine care to surgery, microchipping, and medical boarding. 

Avian and Exotic Veterinary Care in Northeast Portland is home to the only two board-certified exotics specialist veterinarians in Oregon and SW Washington, meaning they meet extra education standards. The clinic welcomes birds, reptiles, amphibians, rodents, fish, primates, and exotic canine or felines, with services ranging from pharmacy and retail sales to boarding, diagnostic care, and drop-off services. 

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Southwest Animal Hospital in Beaverton rounds out our tour of the United Nations of pet care. This clinic, which accepts donations for research to advance exotic animal medicine, emphasizes education along with a full range of wellness, diagnostic, and surgical services. 

Care for Every Need

Pets need not be exotic to need specialized care, and our community has them covered too. From cardiology to dermatology, cancer care to dental services, we have an array of special-focus practices whose doctors work alongside primary-care vets to become part of a multi-discipline care team for your dear ones. You’ll find just a sampling of them here in our resource list.

Resources:

Bird care:

AvianExoticVetCare.com

TheAvianMedicalCenter.com

Cardiology:

HeartOregon.com  

Cat Care:

PortlandCats.com

Dental:

AnimalDentalClinicNW.com 

Dermatology & Allergy:

AnimalDermatologyPDX.com

Exotics Care:

AvianExoticVetCare.com

NorthwestExoticPetVet.com

SWAnimalHospital.net

Integrative:

IrvingtonVeterinary.com

PNWVisitingVet.com

TwoRiversVet.com  

Oncology and Surgery: 

VCSSpdx.com

Rehabilitation/Injury Management: 

Back on Track at BOTVRC.com


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A Portland native, Kennedy Morgan, has been around dogs her entire life - from the multitude of strays near the country home of her youth to the crew she calls her own now. Vegas, her retired agility superstar (Great Dane) has been her primary inspiration for all things dog in the last decade, including her passion for writing.  

Celebrating Joan Dalton, founder of Project POOCH

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On any given day, Joan Dalton walks with a group along the razor-topped perimeter of MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility in Woodburn, Oregon. She’s watchful for opportunities to praise and encourage her dog walkers — a select group of the facility’s incarcerated youth — and the dogs once considered unadoptable.

This is Project POOCH, which Dalton founded while working as vice-principal at MacLaren’s Lord High School. She saw parallels between abandoned dogs and the youth at her school. “Because of how they’ve been treated and the environment in which they were raised, they’ve acted out,” she says. “They are considered dangerous, so they’re locked up.”

Dalton saw hopelessness in too many students. Many had given up on school, most lacked skills or training, and their chances of finding meaningful employment upon returning to the community were low. Knowing the strength of the human/animal bond from research and personal experience,  she believed the dogs and youth could help each other.

Her love for animals began when her childhood best friend was a dog named Bugsy. He waited with Dalton for the school bus every morning and met her again each afternoon. They were inseparable.

One traumatic day, Bugsy caught one of the family’s chickens. Her parents took Joan and her siblings inside. Her mother pulled the blinds while her father got his shotgun. Joan knew exactly what this meant. Neither parent spoke a word.

The experience stayed with Dalton. She knew Bugsy wasn’t bad; he just hadn’t known better and had been left unsupervised.

Decades later, pondering ways to help her students earn high school credits, Dalton thought of Bugsy, and the many shelter dogs rejected for their behavior. She formed a vision to rehabilitate such dogs while teaching her students communication, job, and behavioral science skills.

She’d eventually leave her position as vice-principal and take a significant pay cut to head up POOCH, working grueling hours, even selling her house to cover living expenses.

Beginning with one youth and one dog, Project POOCH grew every year, as youth learned patience and accountability, developed caring bonds with dogs, and celebrated as previously unadoptable dogs went to permanent, loving homes. Later, youth would learn additional skills by helping remodel campus areas into a kennel and study area and creating an agility course and a meditation garden.

Over the years Dalton has worked to add more components to the program, including expanding kennels to teach construction skills and bringing in trainers, groomers, and veterinarians to deepen the youths’ knowledge. She brought in K9 officers to show youth different careers working with dogs .

The program became a model far and wide. POOCH graduates have a low recidivism rate, and Dalton has helped participants find employment upon release from MacLaren, realizing one of the program’s early goals. A number of youth have gone on to college with the help of scholarships from donors. The barrier-busting program has been featured in magazines, newscasts, and on Animal Planet. A Japanese film about POOCH airs regularly in Japan.

Now planning to hand over management to a new director, Dalton will be taking her work home with her. [NH1] She’s outfitted her home to provide sanctuary to older POOCH dogs who have never been adopted. Living among retired canines, she will write her memoir about POOCH.

“Hopefully it will raise awareness that everyone deserves a second chance. Whether it is an animal with behavior problems or a person who has been incarcerated, love and hard work can turn a life around,” she says.


POOCH dog Felix: Winning

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Eight years ago, Oregon State Penitentiary Assistant Superintendent Michael Yoder called Joan Dalton with an unusual request: he needed a dog to keep geese off the prison recreation yard.

Dalton knew just the dog — Felix. His parentage was a mystery, “So the POOCH youth compared him to photos in dog books and decided he most resembled a Munsterlander.” Experts describe the breed as affectionate, intelligent, and natural hunters that thrive on exercise.

Felix fit the description. Immediately, Dalton says, “he went wild chasing geese. Felix was a bit of a showoff as he demonstrated his skill and intelligence.”

Soon Felix began visiting the infirmary, improving inmate and staff morale. Inmate Michael McNeely, at OSP since Felix arrived, says, “Everybody loves Felix. He’s so smart; he can tell if somebody needs loving. Some people in here never get a visitor, and Felix makes a big difference to them.”

Inmate Steve Johnson handles Felix’s daily care, but others are quick to help. His popularity even pays his expenses: inmates and visitors line up to pay $1 for a photo with him.

And while the geese keep Felix challenged, so far, Felix is winning.


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Nancy Hill is a photojournalist currently living in Portland, although she anticipates moving to Salem very soon. As a child, Nancy's family always had a collie. She's continued the love of the breed all her life and now has a collie named Casper.

                       

Get your costume ready

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Vancouver’s Furry Friends cat rescue has a plan for this year’s fundraiser that could fill your Instagram feed. Organizers at the all-volunteer rescue encourage guests to attend in costumes that celebrate the historical spirit of the legendary Three Musketeers — but with a feline flair.

The fundraiser, happening Saturday, Sept 15 at Vancouver’s Firstenburg Community Center, supports operating costs for and improvements to the rescue’s recently purchased Halfway House, which expanded shelter capacity. 

Whiskers, swords, and costumes are optional, but registration is required. Get tickets and details at FurryFriendsWA.org.