Archive for August, 2016

AMONG THE ANIMALS: Responding to Animal Emergencies

Sheila Markman and Josie with ALDF Car Shade

Greenwood resident Sheila Markman and her dog Josie with the ALDF Car Shade. Photo by Christie Lagally

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in City Living Seattle

June 2016

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

At any time of the day, we may happen upon an animal in distress.  Whether you pass injured wildlife on the road, see a dog in a hot car or an injured kitty on the street, it is our responsibility to respond in this animal’s time of need.  Luckily, with just a little information and a few supplies, it is easy to respond to animal emergencies no matter where or when you encounter them.

As summer approaches, you hear frequent reminders to never leave a dog or other animal in a hot car. Unfortunately, many people do not understand that even on a cool day, the inside of a car can reach deadly temperatures in minutes, even with windows cracked.  If you see an animal in a hot car, it’s important to respond immediately, take action and personally ensure that the animal gets to safety.   

Jeff Pierce, Legislative Council for the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) says that his organization started a campaign on this issue about two years ago.  Pierce outlines that all states have animal cruelty laws, but some states have specific laws addressing dogs in hot cars including laws that empower good Samaritans to rescue an animal if law enforcement cannot get to the scene in time.  You can visit ALDF’s website,, for more information.  

Here in Washington state, it is a class 2 civil infraction under RCW 7.80.120 to leave or confine any animal unattended in a motor vehicle or enclosed space if the animal could be harmed or killed by exposure to excessive heat, cold, lack of ventilation, or lack of necessary water.

Individuals who encounter an animal in this situation should immediately call Seattle Animal Shelter or Regional Animal Services of King County. If humane officers cannot be reached, call the police department or 911.  It is vital to stay at the scene to direct law enforcement to the animal and ensure she is rescued.  In Washington state, humane and police officers are empowered by the law to rescue an animal from a hot car “by any means reasonable under the circumstances.” 

Education is key to ensuring dogs or other animals are not left in hot cars. Greenwood resident Sheila Markman said she has encountered situations at her workplace where dogs had to be rescued from hot cars. Hence, Markman recently got a sun shade from ALDF that reminds fellow drivers to call 911 if you see a trapped dog.

“It’s extremely deadly,” she said.  

Other types of animal emergencies should also be addressed with urgency.  Whether you find a free-roaming dog, an abandon chicken or injured wildlife, it is our responsibility to take action. We cannot expect other passersby will even notice the animal.  While getting an animal to safety may seem daunting or inconvenient at first, being prepared with some common supplies and a few simple steps allows you to help the animal quickly and easily. 

Stephanie Bell, Cruelty Casework Director for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Emergency Response Team, explains that if you encounter a trapped animal the most important thing is to stay calm, remain at the scene and call for help from there, if needed. Rescue of the animal may be impossible if the animal disappears.  Having someone keep an eye on the animal is paramount, Bell said.

Second, make every effort to expedite assistance for the animal.  Ensure you have a cellphone at all times (even on short walks) with the numbers for animal control (Seattle Animal Shelter), the local police department and your local emergency vet clinic and wildlife rescue center.  In Seattle, the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) can advise you on matters involving wildlife in distress. 

Wildlife cases—especially in the springtime when baby animals are roaming with their parents—can be complex.  A healthy fledgling bird may not need assistance and intervention may actually cause harm, but you may need guidance on how to engage a clearly injured baby opossum safely.  Bell explains that you should always consult a wildlife expert on the proper steps to take.

“Local officials rely on members of the public to do their part to assist animals in distress,” Bell said, adding that being prepared with an emergency kit ensures you have supplies on hand to respond to most emergencies.  A kit should include gloves, a leash, towels, gauze strip, a carrier, and some treats or a pop-top can of cat food.  These supplies enable you to catch a free-roaming dog to take her to the shelter or transport an injured cat for veterinary care.  PETA also sells an Animal Rescue Car Kit with some of these supplies.  

For more information about responding to animals or wildlife in distress, visit


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AMONG THE ANIMALS: A discussion on the humane economy

The Humane Economy Book Coverby Christie Lagally

Originally published in City Living Seattle

July 2015

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

Social justice movements in the last century have cemented rights for women and minorities, given access to the disabled and provided equality to the disenfranchised. This transformation took us through times of intolerance to increasing inclusion for humans, but this almost-linear progress has not been so straight-forward for animals.

With the rise of factory farming and sped-up slaughter operations, establishments of puppy mills, animal use in entertainment and an era of intensive animal testing, the necessity to protect animals became an uphill battle as our economy grew into an industrialized state.

But my recent discussion with Wayne Pacelle, CEO and president of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), helped me understand why the growth of capitalism — which has been an impetus for intensive animal abuse in many industries — can now be a driving force to protect or free animals from that very abuse, while benefiting consumers and corporations alike.

Pacelle will visit Seattle for a lecture and discussion on these topics encapsulated in his new book, “The Humane Economy: How Innovators and Enlightened Consumers are Transforming the Lives of Animals.” The April 30  lecture, at the University Book Store (4326 University Way N.E.) at 3 p.m., is open to the public.

AL Dogfighting Rescue

The Humane Society of the United States and The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, at the request of the United States Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, assisted in seizing 367 dogs in Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia in what is believed to be the second-largest dog fighting raid in U.S. history. The HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle is seen here with one of the dogs rescued from the case.

Making progress

I met Pacelle four years ago, when he visited Seattle and spoke about the need for corporations, like Walmart, to reject some of the cruelest practices in agriculture, such as gestation crates for pigs and battery cages for egg-laying hens, which restrict animals from any natural movement for years. This Walmart-scale of industrial reform would be groundbreaking, Pacelle said in 2012, and yet, within just a few years, HSUS announced Walmart would adopt significant commitments to animal welfare to source animal products.

Now, these types of economy-shaking reforms are taking hold in industries from food service to wildlife management, and in The Humane Economy, Pacelle tells this incredible story of progress for animals happening right before our eyes.

“Reform is accelerating at a pace that is startling,” Pacelle said, adding that much like the fall of the Berlin Wall foretold the path away from communism, the number of companies pledging to remove some of the worst forms of cruelty from their supply chains increases every day.

Similarly, a recent high-profile announcement by SeaWorld to reform treatment of orcas and end the practice of forcibly breeding these intelligent beings and compelling them to perform is certainly evidence of a more humane economy in development. In a world that exploits animals in every conceivable way, it is enlightening to realize the influence of corporate and economic incremental change, as seen at SeaWorld or Walmart, as first steps against massive institutionalized cruelty.

But Pacelle’s book doesn’t just land on incremental progress. “The Humane Economy” captures compelling stories of new and rising companies striving to take animals out of the supply chain altogether, thereby working to genuinely solve long-standing cruelty issues and change our economy permanently. National brands like Beyond Meat (which makes plant-based chicken) or Hampton Creek Foods (which supplies mayonnaise and dressings without eggs) are changing the landscape of the food industry by commandeering market shares with animal-friendly alternatives without sacrificing quality or taste.

Likewise, alleviating the suffering of animals in entertainment is plenty of motivation to spur innovation. Pacelle writes about the incredible history of animals often brutally abused in movies to create scenes of drama and how developments such as computer-generated imagery (CGI) are replacing animals altogether.

Further, “The Humane Economy” tells how we came to terms with the largely non-productive, morally problematic and abusive testing on chimpanzees, now that an end to this practice in the United States is within sight. Chimpanzees in federal laboratories will now be released to an already-full network of sanctuaries, including the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest (CSNW) here in Washington State.

CSNW co-director Diana Goodrich announced plans for sanctuary expansion to be completed in several phases to house 10 to 20 new chimpanzees. But community support is needed for the expansion, and CSNW is holding a fundraiser on April 30 at The Foundry (4130 First Ave. S.) in SODO, where Pacelle will be a special guest presenter that evening.

A different future

Starting today, we can be the change we want to see for animals.

“We may be physically separated from the supply chain, but we aren’t morally separated,” Pacelle explained, adding if we are separated by 1,000 miles or 10 miles, we are connected to the cruelty involved in the production of commodities.

Pacelle’s book outlines how consumers can grow a humane economy by voting with our dollars and choosing products that don’t harm animals. Further, Pacelle reminds us that getting involved with an animal protection organization like HSUS or CSNW has a tremendous impact.

“There is no substitute for organized, collective action for animals,” Pacelle writes.

So whether that action is at the corporate, nonprofit, community or individual scale, participation in the humane economy is an active choice to propel progress for animals from today on forward.

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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Food Empowerment Project comes to Seattle

Loren at Sonoma Chicken Save

A Food Empowerment Project volunteer protests as chickens are trucked into a slaughterhouse during the night. Photo courtesy of the Food Empowerment Project

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in City Living Seattle

March 2016

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

In our interconnected world, we can never truly separate the fight for the rights and dignity of humans from the fight to protect the lives of all animals. It can be confusing to hear some people say that advocacy to protect animals could be a distraction from the global need to address human social welfare, but this is simply not the case.

Yet, history has only begun to tell this interconnected story. Cesar Chavez, renowned civil rights leader, labor activist and co-founder of the United Farm Workers Association, advocated for the rights of migrant farm workers while living his convictions to protect all animals.

“I became a vegetarian after realizing that animals feel afraid, cold, hungry and unhappy, like we do,” Chavez said. “I feel very deeply about vegetarianism and the animal kingdom. It was my dog Boycott who led me to question the right of humans to eat other sentient beings.”

Today, our responsibility to pursue the protection and fair treatment of humans and animals alike is being realized by Food Empowerment Project (FEP), an organization that recently opened a chapter in Seattle. FEP helps us recognize the impact of our food choices.

“We encourage choices that reflect a more compassionate society by spotlighting the abuse of animals on farms, the depletion of natural resources, unfair working conditions for produce workers, the unavailability of healthy foods in communities of color and low-income areas, and the importance of not purchasing chocolate that comes from the worst forms of child labor,” states FEP’s mission.

Working locally

Animal- and human-rights activist Lauren Ornelas founded FEP after she got pushback from individuals who felt that advocating for human rights alongside animal rights was “hurting the movement.” She sought to show that just because something is vegan does not mean it is cruelty-free and started FEP to educate others on how to live a life of least harm.

FEP now takes a multifaceted approach to these issues. The organization supports families and children of farm workers, bears witness and exposes the cruelty at a chicken slaughterhouse in California and highlights the working conditions at chocolate plantations. Ornelas also speaks regularly at conferences on vegan food justice.

Seattle resident Anika Lehde championed the effort to start a Washington chapter of FEP after she heard Ornelas speak. Lehde felt that FEP shared many of the values that people in the Pacific Northwest care about, such as access to healthy food, farm worker rights and social justice, as well as animal rights.

Lehde and fellow volunteer Fernando Cuenca have implemented two projects as part of the launch of FEP in Washington state. Lehde is coordinating FEP’s effort in Seattle to educate the public about chocolate made with the worst forms of child labor, including slavery.

Lehde explains that some chocolate may seem to be cruelty-free just because it is vegan, when it is actually sourced from areas where child labor is common practice.

Theo choc

A Food Empowerment Project volunteer protests as chickens are trucked into a slaughterhouse during the night. Photo courtesy of the Food Empowerment Project

Lehde is working with local Seattle chocolate companies, such as Theo Chocolates and Hot Cakes Chocolates, to certify their products as “Food Empowerment Project Recommended.”

Lehde says that at least 10 companies in Seattle are now FEP-recommended; some of these chocolates are available at Vegan Haven, a grocery in Seattle’s University District.

As a local volunteer for FEP, Cuenca is arranging a school supply drive for children of migrant farm workers from July 11 to July 25; details will be announced on the FEP website at

Ornelas explained that FEP started the school supply drive to support the children of farm workers; a similar drive will take place in Portland, Ore.

“It’s not an act of charity,” Ornelas said, regarding the impetus for the multi-state FEP drives, “but we are trying to right an injustice.”

Lehde says more Seattle volunteers are needed who share a conviction for social justice and animal rights. Those interested in fundraising, tabling, researching chocolate companies and helping with the school supply drive should contact

FEP also operates a companion website for vegan Mexican food ( and provides its website in both English and Spanish to reach a broader community.

No separation of rights

FEP takes a unique, but very necessary approach, to human and animal social justice issues because we simply cannot separate human and animal rights.

For example, the ignored welfare of slaughterhouse workers, who are often injured by exposure to chemicals or knives or sickened by unhealthy conditions should be challenged just as much as the brutal treatment and unjustly slaughter of chickens themselves.

FEP helps us see that each of us has the power to challenge injustice because “food is power.” We can select chocolate that is FEP-recommended, and we can opt for vegan food, so that our food choices every single day are truly a force for social justice for all beings.

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AMONG THE ANIMALS | Pet-friendly Seattle


A dog on a Seattle city bus. Courtesy of Metro.

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in City Living Seattle

February 2016

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

After a long workday, it is important to me to spend time with my animals in the evenings and weekends. However, that “dog and cat time” is also the only time I have to run errands, get exercise or visit friends. So I’m taking a lesson from a few Seattle residents who have found ways to include their pets in everyday activities.

Seattle is friendlier than most cities when it comes to taking your pets along for the ride. Since pet-friendly restaurants and social outings are common, King County Metro Transit (Seattle’s provider of bus services) ensures that you and your pets can travel together. Metro is one of the few major metropolitan transportation districts that allows dogs — and other animals in crates — on buses.

“[D]ogs were allowed on buses as far back as anyone can remember, even on predecessor Seattle transit systems,” explained Metro Transit spokesperson Jeff Switzer.

Amy Parsons and Murphy

A dog on a Seattle city bus. Courtesy of Metro.

Amy Parsons moved to Seattle about two years ago with her Corgi-mix, Murphy, and decided she didn’t need her car to get around. From their Queen Anne apartment, Parsons and Murphy either walk or take the bus for nearly all their transportation needs, from visiting friends at a dog-friendly bar to their trips to doggie day care.

“Everyone seems to be pleased about it,” Parsons said, regarding the reaction of other Metro riders who often give Murphy plenty of attention on the bus.

Ned Ahrens  King Co Metro 1Metro allows dogs and other animals to ride the bus at the discretion of the driver, who may limit the number of animals on the bus or address any issues that may arise. Animals in carriers don’t need to pay, but large dogs on leashes can get their own ORCA card, Switzer said. Smaller dogs, like those who sit on their owners lap, don’t pay a fare.

“The bus is part of our community, and riders are pretty good-natured about sharing a ride with animals.” Switzer said. “It brightens people’s day.”

Parsons moved from Minneapolis, where dogs weren’t allowed on the bus, and said it was a perk that Seattle buses allow dogs.

“I love the convenience of it,” said Parsons, who added that Murphy, a mid-sized dog, doesn’t usually pay for his ride and finds his “seat” on the floor under the benches.

Zelda Rests while amy bikes 2 - BEST

A dog on a Seattle city bus. Courtesy of Metro.

Getting some exercise

While eco-friendly transport with your dog allows their inclusion in many parts of your life, one Seattle resident has found a way to share exercise time with her cat. Wedgwood resident Amy Webster recently learned about feline exercise wheels and set one up in her home. Getting a cat exercise wheel allows for freestyle exercise for indoor cats.

“It’s my resolution to give my companion animals a better quality of life,” Webster said, regarding her motivation to provide exercise opportunities for her indoor cats, Zelda and Indie. “Zelda is a very active cat, and I could tell she wanted more.”

Amy training Zelda (cat) - BEST

A dog on a Seattle city bus. Courtesy of Metro.

Webster is training Zelda to use the wheel with cat treats and encouragement. Zelda, a tall, sleek cat with both brains and beauty, happily engages in the activity.

“It’s a bonding time, and both of us look forward to it,” Webster said, regarding her twice-daily training sessions with Zelda. “My dream is to have her running on the wheel, while I’m exercising on the bike.”

Pet-friendly homes

While including pets in our lives takes some creative thinking at times, one of the most crucial ways to ensure we can share our lives with cherished family members is to find the right place to live. Yet, many people with pets know that apartment hunting can be limited by pet exclusion or restriction policies.

Robert Pregulman, founder and editor of Seattle Dog Spot, an online community on living with dogs in the Seattle area, diligently compiled a one-of-a-kind list of Seattle rentals that include pets. Pregulman takes the apartment hunt one step further by including information on the type and number of pets allowed and weight or breed restrictions.

Pregulman said he gets a lot of email from people about finding a pet-friendly apartment where some breeds of dogs, like pit bulls or bully breeds, might be accepted. He said that a lot of apartments have breed restrictions, and he felt it was important for dog owners to have that information.

Pregulman also recommends double-checking pet policies prior to renting to ensure it hasn’t changed. To obtain the Seattle Dog Spot list of pet-friendly rentals, visit to download it for free.

As our society becomes more sensitive to the rights of all animals, it is only natural that we will find it easier to include them in our communities. After all, the artificially constructed belief that animals should be excluded from everything from hospitals to restaurants is slowly being broken down.

Luckily, progressive institutions like Metro or local apartments and creative local residents lead the way to ensuring a more inclusive future for animals.

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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Local innovations saving animals


Medical professionals learn trauma surgical techniques on Simulab’s TramaMan. Photo courtesy of Simulab

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in City Living Seattle

December 2015

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

In many ways, 2015 was a banner year for animals in Washington state, as voters, activists and government officials made significant strides.

In March, a coalition of environmental, labor and animal rights group spoke out in force and stopped a proposed “ag-gag” bill that would have criminalized the exposure of animal cruelty.

In May, thanks to state legislators and citizen lobbyists, Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law new protections for animals, including broader definitions to prevent staged animal fighting and legal protections for police who rescue dogs from hot cars.

Finally, in November, with the support of local institutions like Vulcan and The Humane Society of the United States, Washington voters approved Initiative 1401, effectively banning the sale of ivory and other body parts from endangered animals.

While activism is effective to bring forth animal protection laws, these wins can seem few and far between when we face the realities that animals are abused and killed every day for meat or even medical training.

Yet, experience has shown us that innovation, alongside activism, can be one of the greatest forces for change for animals, and right here in Seattle, two companies are addressing issues of animal use by offering superior alternatives.


Medical professionals learn trauma surgical techniques on Simulab’s TramaMan. Photo courtesy of Simulab

More humanlike simulators

Simulab is a Seattle-based company that designs and manufactures human-body simulators, such as the TraumaMan, to provide highly effective medical training and to displace the use of animals used for teaching surgical techniques.

Simulab president and COO Doug Beighle explains that approximately 40,000 doctors each year are trained using the TraumaMan simulator, which substitutes the use and killing of approximately 10,000 animals annually, and simulators are now used in the majority of medical training programs in the United States.

Simulab makes simulators to train for approximately 70 procedures and focuses on providing the most realistic soft-tissue that can be surgically cut and even bleeds. This allows doctors to train on human-relevant, reusable models, unlike training for surgery on animal bodies, which can only be used once for first-time cutting before an animal dies.

Furthermore, improved patient safety is the result of better-trained medical professionals using these advanced tools.

“As a company, we are all about patient safety,” Beighle said, adding that simulation has been clinically validated to be a superior training method.

While simulators are common in the United States, Simulab works in partnership with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to provide TraumaMan to medical programs in Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. Programs in these countries may not be able to afford the capital costs of transitioning away from animal use, Beighle said, so PETA, in collaboration with Simulab, underwrites the capital and recurring costs to use simulators, which reduces animal use in these countries.

Roast Forager Right Angle

Field Roast’s Forager’s Roast. Courtesy of Field Roast

‘Grain meat’

Simulab’s innovative spirit to address human and animal issues is a theme that can be seen in other Seattle companies, as well.

Seattle-based Field Roast Grain Meat Co. is making an impact every day for people and animals by offering the tastiest plant-based sausages, frankfurters, roasts and even cheeses available at most local supermarkets and even at Safeco Field. These replace some of the most common animal products with healthier, plant-based alternatives and spare the lives of countless animals each year.

Field Roast president David Lee, who founded the company in 1997, explained that his goal was not to imitate meat but to make a real-food product acceptable to meat eaters that could go “toe-to-toe” with animal products.

Field Roast makes “grain meat” from wheat, mushrooms, lentils, spices and herbs, and the term “meat” is used in a traditional sense to simply mean “solid food,” he said.

Lee adds that the target Field Roast customer is someone who may still eat some animal-based meats but finds they really enjoy the rich flavor of Field Roast.

CO.TC.CH Chao Trio2

Chao Cheese, made without animal products. Courtesy of Field Roast

Furthermore, Field Roast continues to innovate to offer products that customers find often better than animal products. Last year, the company introduced a line of sliced cheeses, called Chao Cheese, made from fermented and seasoned tofu, and a new wild mushroom roast, the Forager’s Roast, typically served at holiday meals.

With the addition of these two products last year, Lee estimates that approximately 451,143 chickens, 7,713 pigs and 2,256 cows were saved this year alone when customers choose Field Roast meats instead of animal-based meats.

While we always have a responsibility to speak out against cruelty and abuse, it is not the only action we can take. Animal use has a long history, which is often perpetuated by human need.

When companies and individuals can find innovative solutions to meet these needs by providing superior products and services, many of the most abusive forms of animal use will, as they have in the past, simply find their place in the history books.

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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Protection orders keep pets safe from domestic violence


Honeybee, kitten found in a box. Courtesy of Rachel Bjork

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in City Living Seattle

November 2015

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

Greenwood resident Rachel Bjork got a bit of a shock recently during her nightly walk with her dog, Mika. As they passed an intersection, Mika became interested in a non-descript shoebox that had been sealed shut and placed under a laurel bush. Bjork inspected the box, but unlike Mika, she ultimately found it unremarkable because trash is often left on the corner.

box note

Honeybee, kitten found in a box. Courtesy of Rachel Bjork

A moment later as she walked away, Bjork heard a loud meow. She paused, finding it difficult to believe a kitten would be sealed in that box and left on the street corner. But sure enough, Bjork picked up the box, and the meows got even louder.

Bjork quickly brought the kitten home and found the box had a note reading, “My mommys boyfriend is mean to me. desperat for loving home L,” in what appeared to be child’s writing.

After Bjork shared this story on social media, the kitten was quickly placed in a foster home through Meow Rescue in Kirkland and named HoneyBee.

But the note from the person who left the kitten suggested a larger problem than a single homeless, abandoned kitten. The person’s note seemed to indicate that the kitten was in danger from an abusive boyfriend and, hence, the “mommy” was likely in danger herself.

“We don’t know what bad situation this person is in,” Bjork said. “They may not have access to resources.”

Rachel Bjork posting note 2

Honeybee, kitten found in a box. Courtesy of Rachel Bjork

Bjork suspects the person who left the kitten felt she had no alternative to abandoning her. So Bjork decided to leave a note in the location where the kitten was found in the hopes that the kitten’s owner might discover it.

“I figure they cared about the kitten, and I wanted to let them know she is OK,” Bjork said. “I also included a number for New Beginnings.”

(Victims of domestic violence or even those in scary relationships can call New Beginnings, a nonprofit support center providing a 24-hour hotline at 206-522-9472, free resources, transitional housing, children’s services and emergency shelter. People can also call the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Abuse, which operates a hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE and offers financial, housing and legal assistance.)

It’s not uncommon for people to stay in domestic violence situations to protect their pets. Abusers may use the threat of violence or actual violence against an animal to control their human victims. To get to safety, victims may feel they must abandon their pets.

“This person may not have known about animal shelters,” Bjork said.


State, federal legislation

Thankfully, in 2009, the Washington state Legislature passed a pet protective order bill, House Bill 1148, entitled “Protecting animals from perpetrators of domestic violence.” The bill was passed with the help of The Washington Federation of Animal Care & Control Agencies, The Humane Society of the United States and several other groups.

The bill states, “The Legislature finds that considerable research shows a strong correlation between animal abuse, child abuse and domestic violence. The Legislature intends that perpetrators of domestic violence not be allowed to further terrorize and manipulate their victims, or the children of their victims, by using the threat of violence toward pets.”

Dan Paul, Washington state director of The Humane Society of the United States, explained, “Basically, victims of domestic violence can expand the protective orders to cover pets as well, so that they are not abused as a way to get back or further victimize the spouse or significant other.”

This law also allows the court to assign custody of the pet exclusively to the victim and inflict penalties against the abuser if s/he tries to prevent removal of the pet.

While this 2009 law applies only to Washington state, the U.S. House of Representatives is currently considering a bill to help protect victims of domestic violence and their pets nationwide. The Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act (HR5267) “amends the federal criminal code to prohibit threats or acts of violence against a person’s pet under the offenses of stalking and interstate violation of a protection order.”

If enacted, this bill would also direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture to award grants for programs that support “victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking and their pets” and would express Congress’ encouragement for more states to include pets in protection orders, as is already the case in Washington state.

For this important bill to be enacted, your representative needs to hear from you. You can quickly contact your U.S. representative by visiting Let your legislator know that victims and their pets both need protection and assistance and this bill makes that possible.

For everyone’s safety

While domestic violence is a difficult issue to converse about, it is a good reminder of how much our society depends on our relationship with animals. Our pets provide comfort and family, especially in times of uncertainty. Hence, ensuring that all animals are protected from violence is an important step forward — not just for the safety of animals but for the most vulnerable members of our human society, as well.

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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Lost and found


Lost Dog sign work well to find a missing family members.  Photo courtesy of Missing Pet Partnership

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in City Living Seattle

October 2015

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

Whether you live in a neighborhood, apartment complex or downtown, pets that have strayed from their home, have been stolen or even intentionally abandoned are commonly reported on neighborhood websites.

In my Seattle neighborhood, every day a dog is found roaming the streets or a cat reported missing. Even chickens, turtles, birds and guinea pigs are frequently reported as lost or found.

Luckily, well-intentioned neighbors try to help these animals, but it is not always clear what steps to take.

Additionally, while the Seattle Animal Shelter (SAS) offers services during business hours, you need to find other options after-hours to ensure an animal’s safety.

Toby_Zizka_Rosie with the dog licenses

Lost Dog sign work well to find a missing family members.  Photo courtesy of Missing Pet Partnership

Where to start

Whenever you find a stray animal, report it immediately. You can call SAS from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

SAS also maintains an online Lost and Found Database called Reuniting Owners with Missing Pets Systems (ROMPS) found on the SAS website ( On ROMPS, anyone can quickly report the details of a found pet and upload a picture. Pet owners can search the database and contact you via email.

Conversely, if you have lost a pet, enter your pet’s information on ROMPS, and if it is found by another person, you may be reunited more quickly.

If an animal is found within city limits, you can drop off a found animal at SAS on Tuesdays through Sundays, from noon to 6 p.m. Otherwise, animal control services are available daily if an animal needs to be picked up.

Each day, SAS’ Lost Pet Hotline is updated at 6:30 p.m., and it lists the animals that are currently on stray hold at the shelter.

You can also check the adoption listings on the Shelter website to see if your animal is shown there.

SAS director Don Jordan warns that you shouldn’t depend on the description of a pet to determine if he is at the shelter because every animal could be described differently.

Jordan says the best way to identify your pet is to visit SAS during lost pet/adoption hours. If the animal isn’t claimed after three business days, it is spay/neutered, provided a microchip and put up for adoption.

If you find a stray animal after 6 p.m., you will need to house him until the next day.

Posting on other neighborhood websites like Craigslist or NextDoor or asking your mail carrier if she recognizes the dog are good ways to reunite the animal with its family.

Jordan says it is also good to walk the animal around the neighborhood to see if neighbors are familiar with him.

If you have lost a pet, you should take immediate steps to find it and not just wait till it returns. Even free-roaming cats keep regular schedules, and you will know when yours is likely lost.

Furthermore, if a cat is trapped in a garage or shed without access to food or water, its life could be in jeopardy within one day, due to the serious consequences of dehydration in cats.

This is yet another good reason that providing your cat with an outdoor enclosure (like a catio) is strongly encouraged, rather than allowing it to roam the neighborhood.

Similarly, well-maintained fencing and strong latches on your gates can prevent most dogs from getting loose.


A pet investigator searches for a cat.  Courtesy of the Missing Pet Partnership

Ensuring a found pet

If your pet is lost, consider getting some expert advice. The Puget Sound-based Missing Pet Partnership (MPP) is a nonprofit group that educates people on how to find missing pets. Its website ( provides a wealth of information on how to find an animal — whether it’s a panicked dog or a cat in unfamiliar territory.

SAS takes in 4,000 animals per year on average, and a large majority are stray animals. MPP founder Kat Albrecht explains that missing and unclaimed pets fuel the homeless pet population in our communities, so recovering lost pets is an important undertaking.

MPP also maintains a database of pet investigators for hire to help you find your pet. Albrecht explains that if you cannot search for your missing pet yourself due to work, mobility issues or other commitments, getting a pet investigator soon after your pet goes missing may be a good choice.

As a longtime advocate for recovering lost pets, Albrecht also trains pet investigators online; see for training opportunities.

To protect your pets, a microchip is highly recommended, but you must keep your information up-to-date with the microchipping company. Then, always obtain a license from SAS for your dogs and cats.

The best insurance to get your pet home is to ensure it wears a collar with its license at all times, plus tags with your name, phone number and address. Your neighbors may not be able to read a microchip, so a collar with tags is the fastest ticket home for your beloved family member.

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