Archive for September, 2013

AMONG THE ANIMALS: Foster care: ‘A shelter without walls’


Mo, a foster cat from PAWS

Sept. 19th, 2013

Originally published in City Living Seattle and the Queen Anne News

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

My husband, Eric, and I had presided over a two-dog, one-cat household for a long time before one of our dogs passed away in May. We were not ready to commit to another dog. Instead, we decided to foster cats and dogs from a local rescue group and help out one animal at a time.

We signed up with the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) since its shelter is close to our North Seattle home. There are also foster programs through the Seattle Animal Shelter (SAS) and numerous private rescue groups. Smaller rescue groups also depend on foster families to care for homeless pets because they do not have a brick-and-mortar shelter.

Eric and I acquired the requisite training to volunteer and to learn how to engage with the foster-care system. We learned about pickups, drop-offs, vet appointments and how to encourage good behavior in the home so our foster animal will be adopted.

I was ecstatic when PAWS’ foster-care coordinator Rebecca Oertel called to say she had a dog needing care for two weeks. By the end of the day, our confident yet tiny foster dog, Mariah (a Chihuahua mix), was firmly established in our home and was spending her Friday night in a rambunctious play session with our dog, Toby.

Toby loved every minute of his new playmate’s company. They chased and played tug of war (with both sanctioned and unsanctioned socks). At times, my cat Buca would sit high on the counter and watch Mariah bounce around the living room like a ball in a tennis match.

Toby and Mariah

Toby and Mariah

As a puppy, Mariah needed guidance on house training, but she quickly absorbed new commands like “sit” and “stay.” She was a joy to have in our home.

When I got a voice mail that a family was keen on adopting Mariah, I was overjoyed, yet I braced myself to miss her petite and energetic spirit. Toby, Eric and I took Mariah back to the shelter together, and the abundance of kisses and hugs were natural at such a moment to say goodbye.

New foster family members

That day, Oertel introduced us to Mo, a 20-pound Maine Coon-mix cat with a positive outlook and polite disposition. In our extra bedroom, Mo hunkered down in the closet. But within a day, he found the lounge chair and amply filled it as if the space between the arms was destined for a giant, long-haired, white cat.

Mo was a perfect gentleman toward dogs, cats and people. He even graciously notified me when it was time for his litter box to be cleaned, and he kept himself and his surroundings in order. Indeed, he was a perfect houseguest, complete with good “meow” conversations in nearly comical tones.

We found it exceptionally difficult to take Mo back to the shelter so that he could meet some potential adopters. Mo awaits adoption at PAWS Cat City in Seattle’s University District.

Our current foster dog, Choco (a Chihuahua mix), is about 2 years old and started out timid around new people. Within days, she learned that life at the Lagally house is safe for dogs, and she found good company in my cat, Buca.

Choco and her shoe pile

Choco and her shoe pile

Like Mariah and Mo, Choco’s unique personality is a delight to discover. Chaco loves shoes, and she collects them from all over our house — from closets, shoe racks or the back porch — and piles them on the couch. No shoe is ever damaged — just displayed as yet another glorious find. As we take joy in and offer respect for Choco’s shoe pile, she seems to learn that people are not so scary after all.

Rewarding connections

Animals at SAS or PAWS typically need temporary foster care to recover from a cold or surgery or to take a break from the shelter. Foster families come from all walks of life, including working people, families, apartment dwellers and homeowners.

“We literally have all lifestyles represented, said SAS spokesperson Kara Main-Hester.

Main-Hester said that SAS regularly has about 130 to 200 animals in foster care and more during kitten season, and more than 700 animals per year are cared for by foster parents serving our local city shelter.

Similarly, PAWS placed around 1,600 dogs, cats, kittens and puppies in foster homes last year alone.

“The foster-care program creates a shelter without walls,” explained Oertel, who emphasized that PAWS can always use more foster families, which, in turn, helps PAWS care for even more animals.

For me, not only do foster-care programs serve an important role as part of the companion animal-shelter system, such programs also give foster parents the rewarding, heartwarming chance to connect with some very precious souls who we might otherwise never get to encounter in our journey through life.

For more information on local foster-care programs, visit the Seattle Animal Shelter website at, or contact PAWS at

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a writer and the editor of “Living Humane,” a news site providing information on humane-conscious lifestyles at She also writes a blog called “Sniffing Out Home: A Search for Animal Welfare Solutions” at


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AMONG THE ANIMALS | Walk and dine for the animals

Cats City Bobcats at PAWSwalk 2012

Cats City Bobcats at PAWSwalk 2012

Aug. 30th, 2013

Originally published in City Living Seattle

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

September is around the corner, and our favorite outdoor fund-raisers for animals are coming soon. Take down these dates to join the Greater Seattle community as we muse in our love of animals. On Sept. 7, 21 and 22, you can walk or dine to help dogs, cats, farm animals and wild animals — simply pick your event or perhaps events!


On the morning of Sept. 7, you and your dog may wish to take the bus to Marymoor Park in Redmond, Wash., for the Progressive Animal Welfare Society’s PAWSwalk. This annual fund-raiser supports the work of PAWS Companion Animal Shelter and PAWS Wildlife Center. Their joint facility in Lynnwood, Wash., is designated to receive wild animals for rehabilitation and release, and they find homes for more than 3,000 cats and dogs per year.

PAWSwalk registration opens at 8 a.m., and the walk starts at 10 a.m. Snacks of vegan and vegetarian food will be available for purchase, and a beer garden and mimosa garden open at 11 a.m.

If you register for PAWSwalk early, you can start or join a fund-raising team. Kara Gerhert, a volunteer at PAWS Cat City adoption center in Seattle’s Roosevelt neighborhood, serves as team captain for the Cat City Bobcats. Their team is one of PAWSwalk’s top fund-raising teams, but they are looking for more team members.

Gerhert explained that her team is named for the “Bobcats” comic written by Seattle resident and author of “The Oatmeal,” Matthew Inman; hence, the Oatmeal Bobcats logo on its fundraising page.

To donate or join a fund-raising team, visit

Eric the Pig at Farm Sanctuary - Photo Credit Matthew Prescott

Eric the Pig at Farm Sanctuary – Photo Credit Matthew Prescott

Walk for Farm Animals

Sept. 21 is Seattle’s Walk for Farm Animals at Green Lake Park. This event is a fund-raiser for Farm Sanctuary, an organization providing rescue and sanctuary for abused farm animals and educating the public on the atrocities of factory farming.

Accompany your dog for a walk around the lake and, afterward, gather at the Green Lake Community Center (7201 E. Green Lake Drive N.), where local vegan and vegetarian restaurants — including Araya’s Vegetarian Place, Pizza Pi and Veggie Grill — will offer their specialties.

Ben Greene, co-author of “The Vegan Athlete: Maximizing Your Health and Fitness While Maintaining a Compassionate Lifestyle,” will be a guest speaker, and local pianist Gary Finkelstein will perform.

There will even be vegan dog treats from Pike Place Market proprietor and Adventure Days owner Melody Price. Price will offer four flavors of “nuggets,” including fruit, calming (lavender), peanut butter and breath (with parsley).

Seattle’s Walk for Farm Animals is held from noon to 3 p.m. Visit to register.

Veggie Grill is also hosting a pre-walk fund-raiser at its South Lake Union location on Sept. 7, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and it will donate 50 percent of proceeds from your meal when you mention the fund-raiser for Farm Sanctuary.

Veggie Grill is a Los Angeles business transplant that offers focuses on giving back to the community. “We love to work with local nonprofits, especially those aligned with our values,” said Keith Treiman, general manager for the South Lake Union restaurant. Treiman said the restaurant has also had fund-raisers for the American Heart Association and the Special Olympics of Washington.

Walk for the Animals, FidoFEST

On Sept. 22, University Village hosts Seattle Humane Society’s (SHS) Walk for the Animals and FidoFEST. This annual fund-raising event supports SHS’ mission to provide medical care, shelter and loving homes for homeless dogs and cats and offer pet spay/neuter programs for low-income residents. SHS also provides an extensive program of dog-training classes, including Puppy Head Start, Canine Good Citizen and Doga: Yoga with Your Dog. SHS even holds Kitten Kindergarten.

The SHS Walk for the Animals starts at 10 a.m. (registration at 9 a.m.), with walkers heading south through the Union Bay Natural Area trails.

Bring your dog, because FidoFEST is after the walk. This event features a “Top Dog” contest. The entry fee is $10, and you can sign up during on-line registration or the day of the event. The winning dog will be featured on SHS’ promotional materials in the coming year, but competition could be tight, with more than 1,000 dogs expected to attend.

If you register early for the Walk for the Animals, you can develop your own fund-raising page on the SHS website and raise funds ahead of the walk. Visit to get started.

Needing your help

The hardworking staff and volunteers of our local animal organizations like PAWS, Farm Sanctuary and Seattle Humane Society do much of the animal advocacy, rescue and adoption services in Seattle. However, people may not realize that these organizations depend almost entirely on fund-raising events and donations from citizens like you and me.

I can’t think of a better way to spend a September weekend than a walk around the park and a chance to share good food and great company with Seattle’s vast community of animal supporters.

CHRISTIE LAGALLY writes the blog “Sniffing Out Home: A Search for Animal Welfare Solutions” at She also hosts the new “Living Humane” radio talk show on KKNW 1150AM. To comment on this column, write to

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Donate and take action against the dolphin slaughter and kidnapping happening now in Japan

Right now as you read this, Japan is hunting some of the most intelligent beings on earth, dolphins, and kidnapping some of them for captivity!   Please take a moment to help stop it by donating, protesting and letting the world know we will not tolerate this despicable slaughter.  You can see the live stream video from the dolphin slaughter/ capture site in Japan happening now.

As recounted in the documentary, The Cove, dolphins are brutally harvested in a blood bath and some kidnapped from their families to be taken to aquariums for public display.   You can watch The Cove now and take action.   Even more importantly, you can help fund the efforts by Sea Shepherd Conversation Society to stop the slaughter and kidnapping of the world’s dolphins.

Visit the Sea Shepherds Cove Guardians webpage.  You can see the live stream video from the dolphin slaughter/ capture site in Japan happening now.

Please donate to Sea Shepherd now to help expose this horrific blood bath.  And there is more you can do…

Contact the Authorities:

Help us end the brutal Taiji dolphin slaughter by voicing your concerns to the authorities in Taiji as well as Wakayama Prefecture and the Japanese Embassy or Consulate in your area.

Japanese Embassies Worldwide: 

Mr. Yoshiki Kimura – Governor of Wakayama:
FAX: +81-73-423-9500

Wakayama Prefecture Office, Fishery Division:
TEL +81-73-441-3010
FAX: +81-73-432-4124

Mayor – Taiji Town Hall:

Taiji Fishermen’s Union:
TEL: +81-73-559-2340
FAX: +81-735-59-2821

Hotel Dolphin Resort / Dolphin Base:
TEL: +81 0735 59 3514
FAX: +81 0735 59 2810

Japan Fisheries Public Content Form:

Contacts via Twitter:
US Ambassador to Japan @AmbassadorRoos
Japanese Prime Minister @JPN_PMO
US Embassy in Tokyo  @usembassytokyo
Political Minister at Japanese Embassy in London @norishikata

Spread the Word:

Follow Operation Infinite Patience on social media and share with your friends and family. Ask them to help us end this atrocity.

Cove Guardian Facebook
Sea Shepherd Facebook
Google +

Educate others on the link between the captive dolphin industry and the Taiji dolphin slaughter. Discourage your friends and family from visiting dolphinariums or participating in captive dolphin programs. More info here.

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