Archive for April, 2013

AMONG THE ANIMALS: Second Chance Rescue saves homeless pets with needed special care

Dr. Valerie Sherer and Preston

Dr. Valerie Shearer and Preston

By Christie Lagally

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

Originally published in the Queen Anne and Magnolia News and City Living Seattle

April 5, 2013

[Update: Preston (left) has been adopted since the writing of this article.]

Every rescue group has a creation story, but this one is unique. It begins in the hearts of Dr. Steven Weinrauch and licensed veterinary technician Michelle St. Mary, as well as the many volunteers who rose to the call to provide top-notch veterinary care to shelter and homeless pets.

Weinrauch, a local veterinarian working at the time for a national, corporate-run veterinary hospital, saw a great need. The Gold Bar puppy mill had been raided, and a lot of those dogs needed medical care. So together with his future business partner, St. Mary, Weinrauch’s wife, Kathryn (a fellow veterinarian), and many other willing veterinarians in the Puget Sound region, Weinrauch attempted to open his hospital and give the dogs the care they needed.

But not everyone was on board: Weinrauch’s employer did not approve. Use of company hospitals and resources to help non-paying clients — let alone dogs without owners — was not allowed. Weinrauch and St. Mary, of course, took care of the dogs anyway.

That was four years ago. Since then, Weinrauch and St. Mary have expanded their initial ambition to care for homeless pets into a successful veterinary practice that carefully integrates their philanthropic values into every aspect of the business.

Both Drs. Kathryn and Steven Weinrauch and St. Mary now operate Second Chance Rescue, with a network of veterinary hospitals, including three they created from the ground-up: Northpointe Animal Hospital in Lynnwood, Main Street Animal Hospital in Mill Creek and Snohomish Station Animal Hospital in Snohomish.


Preston napping in his foster home

Preston napping in his foster home

A philanthropic mission
When you walk into the Northpointe Animal Hospital, it is obvious that the facility was built to suit a practice offering quality veterinary care and the ability to accommodate the needs of all patient needs — including those animals coming from shelters into the care of Second Chance Rescue.

This model, a synergistic combination of nonprofit and business, is not just about sharing space. Every part of Weinrauch and St. Mary’s practice has a philanthropic arm. Drug suppliers are asked to donate medicine for rescue patients when the company makes an order for antibiotics or arthritis medication meant for regular patients. Suppliers of vet-prescribed products, like prescription dog or cat foods, are asked to donate bags of food for the Second Chance dogs and cats.

Even in the construction of the new Northpointe hospital, St. Mary and Weinrauch asked contractors to donate a certain amount of their time to support the rescue.

The result is a fine example of socially conscience entrepreneurship that serves animal clients with or without human owners.

But because of its specialty services, animals taken into the rescue are referred by groups like PAWS, not directly from the public. Kay Joubert, PAWS director for Companion Animal Services, explained that Second Chance is one of its Placement Partners, a trusted organization with which they transfer animals to ensure proper care and the best chance for the right adoptive home.

Second Chance came with a glowing recommendation from the Everett Animal Shelter, which rescued the Gold Bar puppy mill dogs. Joubert said that the decision to transfer a dog to Second Chance depends on the needs of that animal and whether Second Chance has the right foster home to give an animal long-term care.

Preston at the park

Preston at the park

Currently at Second Chance, 7-year-old Preston is up for adoption. True to its mission, Preston is under the care of Second Chance because of his epilepsy. This gentle soul needed special attention to control seizures and receives that from Northpointe veterinarian Dr. Valerie Shearer.

In fact, every person who works for St. Mary and Weinrauch’s hospitals also gives their time to the rescue of dogs and cats. Shearer also serves as Preston’s foster family until the right home is found.

A new solution
Second Chance Rescue appears to have done more than create a new rescue group: It created a new solution to help homeless pets.

“We have a wonderful collaboration with Second Chance,” Joubert said, adding that PAWS also consults with Weinrauch on medical cases within its shelter system.

The advantages of having an animal-rescue focus on specialty veterinary care are clear. Dogs and cats become homeless for a variety of reasons and come to shelters and rescue groups with many complex needs. Some need a trainer, some need a breed-specific rescue and some, like Preston, need a generous dose of expert veterinary care from the dedicated volunteers at Second Chance Rescue.

For more information about Second Chance Rescue, visit Information on PAWS can be found at

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is host of Living Humane on KKNW 1150 AM ( and writes a blog called “Sniffing Out Home: A Search for Animal Welfare Solutions” at To comment on this story, write to


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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Pasado’s provides safe haven for abused animals

Lamp Chop as a baby sheep

Lamb Chop as a baby sheep

By Christie Lagally

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

January 10, 2013

Originally published in the Queen Anne News and City Living Seattle

The grunts and oinks from Bentley and Oscar started up immediately as we walked into their stall at Pasado’s Safe Haven. Stacie Martin, the sanctuary director of operations, was giving us a tour, and she kept saying we should come meet the pigs. But clearly, we were there for the pigs to meet us.

Stacie Martin and Bentley

Stacie Martin and Bentley

Bentley a stout, pink Potbelly pig had a lot to say — particularly where to scratch on his back and grunts of hello to my husband, who joined me on the tour.

Pasado’s is a unique place as a sanctuary for all types of animals, but also for their work changing law. In its nearly 15-year history, the organization has pressed through anti-cruelty laws that made many types of animal abuse toward companion and farm animals a felony in Washington state.

The sanctuary is named for the loss of a loved one: a beloved donkey named Pasado, who was brutally beaten and killed by teenagers. In the wake of his death, the founders of Pasado’s Safe Haven made it their mission to require stiff penalties for animal cruelty and to see that justice is served.

In that fine tradition, today, Pasado’s employs three animal-cruelty investigators and, this year alone, has re-homed or provided sanctuary to more than 700 animals in need. Many of the sanctuary animals are rescues from cruelty investigations.

Chickens at roosting hour

Chickens at roosting hour

A better life

A chicken barn full of white to red, big to small chickens, roosters and even a rogue turkey was our next stop. Martin explained that 50 of the white birds had come from a factory farm in Turlock, Calif., where 50,000 hens were left to starve to death earlier this year. Local animal-control agencies found 17,000 hens dead on arrival.

Animal Place, a farm-animal sanctuary in California, took more than 4,000 of the hens, and other organizations like Farm Sanctuary and Pasado’s took hens as well.

Now, with the freedom to walk around and to act like a chicken, these hens — unlike their pig neighbors — had little concern for our presence at the twilight roosting hour.

But the difference between the conditions shown in a photo of battery-caged chickens on the barn wall and the busy, nesting white hens before me was not just visual — it was palpable. These animals had been rescued from horrible conditions, and they intended to live their lives uninterrupted from now on.

Goat turned in for the night

Goat turned in for the night

Our tour continued to meet some goats tucked into piles of wood chips for the night. Whoopi Goatberg came to the stall door to observe and say hello to Martin.

“We have a bunch of animals named for celebrities,” Martin explained, rattling off a list that included Michelle O’Llama, Ellen Deheneras and George Plummy.

‘Guests of honor,’ not meals

Pasado’s is built on 85 acres of rocky, steep, forested land just east of Seattle. Generous donors have enabled continuous building and rebuilding to accommodate all types of animals, from goats to cats.

Dali Llama protecting his barn

Dali Llama protecting his barn

With the exception of the abusive pasts that so many of these animals suffered, this sanctuary is farm life as it should be: safe, comfortable, clean and honest. By its very existence, it is advocacy against the modern factory farm.

As we entered a central hillside barn, we met Dali Llama, the protector of his herd. Nonviolent and clear in his convictions, as his name suggests, Dali watched over a donkey, two ponies, three little pigs and three sheep: Lady Baa Baa, Bo Peep and Lamb Chop.

“We give some of the animals names that reminds people of the food they eat.” Martin explained. The intention is to bring awareness to the fact that precious lives are lost for meat consumption, and Lamp Chop was certainly precious.

Roaming the barn with sheep and pigs, you cannot help but be reminded that these are the lucky ones, because modern agriculture has turned barns into factories where animals are caged and crated indefinitely and where antibiotics must be used to prevent sickness in atrocious and unhealthy conditions.

Lamp Chop all grown up

Lamb Chop all grown up

So this Thanksgiving at Pasado’s, human guests ate a gourmet vegan meal prepared by chef Bridget McNasser, and an honorary meal was served to the resident turkeys as reminder of the new role that animals can play during the holidays: “where turkeys are the guest of honor and not the main course.” The event was a fund-raiser for the sanctuary and a reminder that the holidays need not be about meat.

Our tour with Martin was completed with a walk past some tail-wagging dogs and feral cats.

Eric saying goodnight to Benley and Oscar

Eric saying goodnight to Bentley and Oscar

New things to consider

As my husband and I drove home, we reflected on each of the sweet faces and unique personalities we had met in such a short evening at the sanctuary.

While thinking of Lamp Chop’s serene presence to Bentley’s informative oinks, my husband asked, “Shall we have Tofurky or the vegan Field Roast for Christmas dinner?” I’m still deciding, but delighted to know I have lots of options for a humane holiday meal.

For more information on Pasado’s Safe Haven, visit 

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is host of “Living Humane” on KKNW 1150 AM and writes a blog called “Sniffing Out Home: A Search for Animal Welfare Solutions” at  HYPERLINK “” To comment on this story, write to

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A chimpanzee sees the sky for the very first time

Just over a month ago, Kathleen Conlee, Vice President for Animal Research Issues for the HSUS, was on Living Humane Radio to talk about the release of some federally owned chimps from the New Iberia Laboratories.  This is video of some of the chimps arriving at Chimp Haven, our national chimpanzee sanctuary (video courtesy of the HSUS).

Note that Chimp Haven is in need to donation to help release and house more chimps.

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