Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'
Wendy Reimer responded immediately when she got a report of a large dog chained up with no shelter, who had been standing in the cold northwest rain for some time.
"We take it very seriously," says the Oregon Humane Society Investigator of three years. "When we get a call of concern [about an animal] from our citizens, we're gonna get there as quickly as possible."
When she got to the residence, Wendy noticed the gate was open and a large "Beware Of Dog" sign was posted. She knocked on the door, introduced herself to the woman who answered, and proceeded to explain why she was there.
"She looked at me like I had two heads," Wendy remembers.
The woman then led her to the spot in the yard where the dog sat. "I haven't had a break-in since I put that statue there," she said.
Unfortunately, most of Wendy's other calls about chained and neglected pets are all too real. But that reality is the reason why, after 17 years as a vet tech, Wendy left that relatively cushier profession to become a humane investigator.
"I worked on the flipside of humane investigations, so I saw all the pets that were being cared for by their owners," she explains. "It gets redundant. I wanted to see how that other side was. I wanted to help people."
As it turns out, Wendy has been able to not only see the "other side" of pet ownership, but has also been able to create positive change when a pet's circumstances are less than ideal. While sometimes that involves removing a pet from a home, many times problems can be solved by simply offering support.
"I do a lot of educating of the public," she says. "Setting them up with resources like Spay and Save, The Pongo Fund, and Fences For Fido (FFF)." In the case of the latter group, Wendy doesn't just pass along a name and number — she's an active volunteer who participates in fence builds for the dogs she refers to the organization.
It was this dedication to animal welfare that led to Wendy being named the FFF "Chopper's Hero of the Year" at their annual gala last May.
"Wendy has been a tremendous resource, and a lifeline, for our organization," says FFF Founder Kelly Peterson. "She immediately believed in our mission, and most importantly, in our small fledgling organization."
Wendy was also very involved in the passage of Oregon's new Anti-Tethering Law, an event this ebullient pet advocate says is her proudest moment. Since the law took effect this past January, it's been a great help on the front lines. "It's a huge talking point when I go out there and I see a dog that's tethered," Wendy says. "They'll tell me, 'Well, he jumps on you.' Then I always ask them to look at it from the dog's perspective. The dog's stuck to a chain, he sees his family but he can't interact with them. How would you feel? Isolate yourself and see how you're going to act socially. You're gonna start hugging people randomly, too!"
That knack for serving up straight talk sweetened with compassion and humor is Wendy’s trademark. Her continuing effectiveness, however, is thanks to the fact that she's discovered the secret to avoiding burnout: Homemade lasagna and action movies.
"I like it when things blow up," she laughs.
Wendy's admirable ability to set boundaries is something many animal welfare workers find hard to do. "When I come to my front door, my day is done," she says emphatically. "Life is really short, and you just need to step back and enjoy what you have and who's in your life."
In Wendy's life are husband James, three spoiled felines named Tiger, Whiskers and Pumpkin, and a hamster named Henry who was hand-delivered to Wendy's front door — likely the result of a neighbor who knows where she works. "When someone sees an OHS truck in the driveway, they figure it's safe," she says.
Also safe at Wendy's house would be reptiles, rodents and large tarantulas — but expect a minor freak-out if you're any kind of small house arachnid. "Forget it; oh no, I'm gone. See ya," she shudders.
Other than that, Wendy says she's a laid-back but determined person, and feels the shoe that best reflects her personality is a flip-flop: a free spirit who nevertheless hangs on tight to what's important.
Which makes it no surprise that when confronted with a dog statue on that call a couple of years ago, she had the perfect solution for the homeowner to prevent future visits from OHS.
"I told her she might want to put up a fake doghouse, too," Wendy says.
About our Sponsor
Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years. In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare. Proprietors Michael, Randy and Avani live in Sherwood.
Michele Coppola is a Portland-based air personality for 99.5 The Wolf and copywriter for Entercom Radio. When she's not talking, writing, or pursuing quality couch time with husband Bryon and their dogs, Cindy and Lucy, she's also a proud volunteer for Fences for Fido and Family Dogs New Life Shelter.