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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Shelter finding home for chickens

Greyson the Rooster at SAS

Greyson the Rooster at SAS

by Christie Lagally

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

May 2014

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

Coreena the Hen graciously allowed me to spend some time getting to know her when I visited the Seattle Animal Shelter (SAS) last month. She had laid an egg in a makeshift nest in the Critter Care room at SAS, and occasionally, she sat on it with pride.

One of several hens surrendered to or rescued by SAS each month, Coreena has an unknown history; she was found wandering in a Seattle neighborhood. SAS waits three days for the chicken’s owners to claim their lost animal.

“It’s never happened,” said Killy Keefe, SAS’ Critter Care team lead volunteer. Keefe explains that, although plenty of chickens are found wondering Seattle, their owners rarely claim them.

Coreena was soon joined in her cozy kennel at SAS by two other hens. Keefe said that chickens are often surrendered because the hens are no longer producing eggs. Chickens only lay eggs consistently for two years of their lives; yet, they can live to be 10 years old. For surrendered hens, the onus is then on SAS to find the chickens new homes.

SAS spokesperson Kara Main-Hester said choosing a new home for a chicken means screening applicants carefully. Chicken adoption is a commitment to care for that animal for a lifetime, and chickens like Coreena are only adopted out to homes where they will be cared for as a pet, like a dog or a cat, and not be killed for meat.

“They need to be part of the family,” Main-Hester said.

In just a week, Sharon Miller of Whidbey Island adopted Coreen and her two hen sisters. Miller keeps hens and roosters as pets in small flocks on her farm.

“They have personalities like cats do,” Miller said of the unique nature of each of her 14 resident birds.

Miller’s vegetarian/vegan family keeps the chickens as pets, although she says it is a bonus to have a fresh eggs once in a while from her flock. Miller became a vegetarian after seeing a truck full of chickens being transported while stuffed in tiny cages. Naturally, Miller found this mistreatment incompatible with her love of these creatures.

Only hens allowed in city

Coreena the Hen at SAS

Coreena the Hen at SAS

In Seattle, residents can keep only female chickens (hens); male chickens (roosters) were banned several years ago. Unfortunately, people purchase their chickens from local hardware or animal feed stores as baby chicks or purchase the chicks online, and at that age, there is no easy way to tell if you are purchasing a hen or a rooster. Residents inadvertently find themselves violating the ban on roosters.

“It’s been noticeably increasing in the last few years,” Main-Hester said, regarding the number of surrendered roosters to SAS.

This was the case with Greyson the Rooster, a glorious, tall, red-and-brown bird who was weary of surroundings at SAS. Roosters like Greyson are re-homed at local sanctuaries, instead of being adopted out to Seattle residents.

Although SAS is happy to re-home the roosters, indiscriminant sale of baby chicks to the public leads to shelters and sanctuaries having to provide short- and long-term care for these animals whose future was apparently not considered prior to purchase.

“People need to know there are consequences,” Main-Hester said, about the sale of baby chicks in Seattle.

Currently, the sale of farm animals is not regulated in Seattle, but Main-Hester said one possible solution is to ban the sale of roosters. Since it is difficult to determine the sex of chicks, perhaps it would discourage their sale.

An ‘unjust’ relationship

Sadly, the plight of chicks in industrialized hatcheries, where the vast majority of birds like Greyson and Coreena are born, is heartbreaking and unacceptable. Since only hens lay eggs or are raised for chicken meat, approximately 50 percent of the chicks born in factory barns are killed once they are identified as male.

In a recent undercover investigation by Mercy for Animals, a chicken hatchery in Canada owned by Maple Leaf Foods was found to be committing egregious acts of cruelty against baby birds. Undercover video shows employee flinging chicks by their fragile wings, scalding chicks with hot water and drowning them and shoving chicks into machines and grinding them alive.

Unfortunately, these atrocities are not specific to this one facility and have been documented by several animal-welfare agencies around North America.

Yet, there are easy ways we can change this unjust relationship that humans currently have with chickens. First, consider reducing your consumption of eggs and poultry to help save the 9 billion chickens that are killed every year in factory farms.

If you wish to house backyard chickens, be sure to “adopt — don’t shop,” much like the mantra to avoid purchasing puppies born in puppy mills.

Finally, commit to care for your chickens for their natural lifetimes in honor of their gift — not just of eggs, but also of spritely companionship.

For information on chicken adoption, visit

To learn about advocating for chickens, visit

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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Zoo needs to retire elephants to sanctuary

Elephants Watoto and Chai in their stalls at the Woodland Park Zoo. Photo courtesy of Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants

Elephants Watoto and Chai in their stalls at the Woodland Park Zoo. Photo courtesy of Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants

by Christie Lagally

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

April 2014

(c) Pacific Publishing Company


The evidence against keeping elephants in captivity keeps mounting. Recent findings published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” show that elephants can distinguish between different human languages and discern whether men or women are speaking in a recording played for the herd. Multitudes of studies like these over the last 30 years have led us to the undeniable conclusion that these creatures are thoughtful beings with independent intelligence and vast awareness.

Wild elephants live in close-knit matriarchal family groups and need a warm climate and wide-open spaces to roam. These are just some of the conditions that can never be met for elephants that are held in captivity in zoos and circuses.

Like the evidence against keeping elephants in captivity, the calls from the Seattle community to retire the elephants at Woodland Park Zoo (WPZ) to sanctuary also are mounting. In December 2012, The Seattle Times published a two-part exposé on the horrific conditions for elephants in zoo and circus industries, including at WPZ. Since then, the Times has published four editorials calling on WPZ to retire elephants Chai, Bamboo and Watoto to sanctuary and chastising WPZ for its relentless and abusive elephant-breeding program.

Each day, more and more voices call for elephant retirement. Former WPZ director David Hancocks and former Seattle City Councilmember Judy Nicastro both have written op-ed pieces for The Seattle Times advocating for the elephants’ retirement and citing the “physical, social, psychological and emotional deprivation” they suffer at WPZ and their need for “autonomy, huge spaces, companionship of their choosing and a warm climate.”

For the last decade, The Seattle Times has published countless letters to the editor from citizens who empathize with the plight of the WPZ elephants and want them retired to sanctuary. Further, a recent survey commissioned by Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants shows that 62 percent of Seattle voters believe the elephants should be moved to a sanctuary immediately.

Yet, 16 months after The Seattle Times articles and as of this printing, there are no public plans by WPZ to retire the elephants or improve current conditions.

Instead, last September, WPZ’s Elephant Task Force, appointed by WPZ to review the elephant exhibit, released its findings. The Task Force majority recommended retaining the elephant exhibit and starting a breeding program, while a minority strongly recommended improving conditions for the elephants in the short term and then “discontinue its elephant program.”

Public input

The City of Seattle contracts with the Woodland Park Zoological Society to run the zoo. The zoo receives approximately $6 million per year ($6,478,611 reported on 2012 income statements) from the Seattle City General Fund and an additional $4 million per year ($3,983,460 in 2012) from the King County Special Property Tax Levy. Hence, taxpayer dollars account for approximately one-third of the zoo’s total annual budget of around $30 million.

The zoo’s elephant program costs approximately $787,470 per year, according to Task Force documents.

With one-third of the zoo’s income coming from taxpayers, it is reasonable that public input on the ethical decisions of keeping or retiring these elephants to sanctuary should be voiced, heard, considered and immediately acted upon.

In recent months, a new organization has formed to help local residents voice their support for elephant retirement. The Community Coalition for Elephant Retirement (CCER) seeks to unify, and therefore amplify, the voices of citizens who support sanctuary retirement for Chai, Bamboo and Watoto, and I, too, have lent my voice to CCER’s cause.

CCER’s message is simple in that we as a community are calling on the WPZ to start making plans to move Chai, Bamboo and Watoto to a sanctuary accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. CCER is asking the community —including you, me and our friends and neighbors — to give a shout-out for elephant retirement just like The Seattle Times editorial board and our community leaders have already done.

CCER is making this advocacy very easy: Simply go to Facebook and “Like” the CCER page to add your name to the list of supporters. Every “Like” counts to help the zoo understand that compassion for the plight of captive elephants is truly a community value.

Also, visit the CCER webpage at to learn about Chai, Bamboo and Watoto and how to get involved and make sure the voices for the elephants are heard.

Undeniably, it’s time to move these precious three souls from their rainy, one-acre exhibit at the Woodland Park Zoo, to live out their lives as permanent snowbirds in a sunny sanctuary. It’s time for them to retire.

Following the herd

To date, 27 zoos in the United States and Canada have closed or plan to close their elephant exhibits for the same reasons that apply to Seattle’s WPZ exhibit.

As a community it has always been our job to call out and rally against injustice, cruelty and abuse. Seattle has faced many such challenges in the past and has shown that when a community advocates for the voiceless, the community benefits — even when it means a diversion from the status quo.

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a writer and the editor of Living Humane ( She also writes the blog “Sniffing Out Home: A Search for Animal Welfare Solutions” (

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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Vegfest celebrates joys of vegetarianism

Author and Chef Miyoko Schinner

Author and Chef Miyoko Schinner

by Christie Lagally

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

March 2013

(c) Pacific Publishing Company


Nearly every day, I am inspired to hear the majority of people I meet say they love animals. I take joy in meeting every doted-over dog, cat, horse and bird in Seattle.

We make it a priority to ensure our animals are safe and free from harm. We also support organizations that care for and rescue animals that would otherwise be out of our reach to save.

For this reason, I am grateful for organizations that advocate for the humane treatment of farm animals, such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and similar groups. These organizations bring animal cruelty into the light of day so that we, as a community, can make positive changes in our lives and in our laws to protect all animals.

Recently, HSUS exposed a slaughterhouse in New Jersey where baby calves are severely abused and beaten before they are killed. Baby calves are routinely taken from their mothers at birth so the cow’s milk can be sold to humans, and the slaughtered babies are sold as veal.

HSUS also exposed a hog farm in Kentucky found to be feeding mother pigs remnants of deceased baby pigs. Seen on undercover video, all of the mother pigs were indefinitely confined to gestation crates so small that they could not walk or even turn around. This cruelty of extended confinement and forced cannibalism in our meat and dairy industry is intolerable to people who love animals.

Although we are far from Kentucky or New Jersey, we can make a big difference to help animals by reducing our consumption of meat and dairy and shifting to a vegetarian diet. And, as it turns out, what is good for the animals is also good for us.

“The consumption of animal products is completely unnecessary,” said Stewart Rose, vice president of the Vegetarians of Washington.

A plant-based diet is highly recommended by doctors and dieticians as a powerful tool for the prevention and even reversal of many common diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and several forms of cancer, Rose said.

Sharing cooking techniques

In Seattle, vegetarianism is a celebrated part of our community, and this year’s celebration begins with the 13th-annual Vegfest ( at the Seattle Center’s Exhibition Hall.

On March 29 and 30, carnivores, omnivores and herbivores are all invited for the biggest food-tasting event in town. More than 200 food companies will serve around 500 different kinds of delicious food, including a special tasting section for kids.

“At Vegfest, you’ll discover that being healthy never tasted so good,” Rose said.

Chef Miyoko Schinner made a splash at last year’s Vegfest with her book “Artisan Vegan Cheese.” Schinner visits again this year for cooking demonstrations, alongside local chef Sunita Shastri, who will feature Indian cooking techniques.

Chef Bianca Phillips joins Vegfest from Memphis to teach Northwest residents to cook vegan soul food from the Deep South. Mexican, Thai and American food cooking demos fill out the weekend and remind us that vegetarianism is a tradition from around the world.

Vegfest features an expert lineup of physicians, including cardiologist Dr. Arun Kalyanasundaram from Swedish Medical Center, who will give talks on health matters. Dr. Esther Park-Hwang, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist, will discuss preventing common women’s health problems with the adoption of a healthy lifestyle. Several doctors will offer onsite health screenings.

Our friends from the Northwest Animal Rights Network (NARN), Mercy for Animals and Fur Bearer Defenders, among others, will be at Vegfest to share messages about living more humanely.

The Humane League (THL), a national organization that just opened a branch in Seattle, comes to Vegfest for the first time. THL provides outreach, including a “Team Vegan” running group and initiatives to encourage us to try Meatless Mondays.

Starting young

In recent years, several school districts (including Los Angles, Detroit and Oakland, Calif.) have adopted Meatless Mondays to help fight rising childhood obesity rates. The program has been suggested for Seattle Public Schools, as well.

“If Seattle Public Schools went meatless for one day a week, it would save 25,000 animals per year,” said THL-Seattle director Rachel Huff-Wagenborg.

Last year, Public School 244, Queens Elementary in New York began serving only vegetarian meals. Since then, school officials have reported a rise in attendance, test scores and attention spans of their students.

Transitioning to plant-based meals in public schools is a growing trend. Amie Hamlin, executive director of the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food, will also be featured at Vegfest to speak on the topic.

Vegfest is a family-friendly event with kids’ foods, story time, a kids’ stage and clown; admission is free to children under 12 years.

Whether you are vegetarian, transitioning to plant-based foods or want to learn about better food options, Vegfest offers a celebration of a lifestyle that is good for your body, your mind and your heart that loves animals.

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 To comment on this column, write to

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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Seattle Audubon Society’s work is for the birds

Birding in Seattle.  Courtesy Seattle Audubon

Birding in Seattle. Courtesy Seattle Audubon

by Christie Lagally

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

February 2013

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

In the cold, dark days of winter, the chirps of neighborhood birds seem to be heard more sparingly, and it can be easy to forget Seattle is brimming with wildlife through the end of winter and into early spring. Birders know this all too well, as members of the Seattle Audubon Society (SAS) make good use of the winter months, enjoying the resident flocks right here in our own backyard.

The Seattle Audubon Society was founded in 1916. Its mission is to conserve habitat for birds and other wildlife through education, community involvement, funding and advocacy. The organization hosts birding trips for small groups and neighborhood walks open to the public, as well as classes for children from elementary age through high school.

SAS communications coordinator Jennifer Leach explained that members enjoy and appreciate birds, and they work to foster that connection to nature through conservation and bird habitat protection.

This winter, Seattle birders participated in the Christmas Bird Count (CBC). The event takes place on the last Saturday of December, and participants walk within a 15-mile radius from Downtown Seattle in search of birds. An experienced birder leads birdwatchers of all experience levels. This year, 186 participants volunteered their time; roughly 48,000 birds were identified representing 126 species in Seattle.

SAS recently announced that the population of Anna’s hummingbirds, seen in high numbers in this year’s CBC, has increased more than 700 percent in 15 years.

“It’s likely that more and more people have learned that hummingbirds can be fed through the winter, and so a lot more people leave feeders out all year now — this alone may account for the great increase,” explained ornithologist Dennis Paulson, working with SAS.

The CBC is an example of citizen science, initiatives where volunteers from our community participate in the documentation of wildlife and the natural world. The information collected is used by SAS and by policy makers to help shape future decisions on city planning and habitat conservation.

Additionally, the CBC data is provided to the National Audubon Society to be added to a nationwide database.

Other birding opportunities

If you missed the CBC, SAS hosts other citizen-science programs. The Neighborhood Bird Project is an ongoing survey in which volunteers record monthly sightings of birds in Seattle neighborhood parks. There are currently seven regularly counted parks, from Seward Park in Southeast Seattle to Carkeek Park and Magnuson Park. The goal of the Neighborhood Bird Project is to maintain an accurate understanding of species diversity in our area and to “[empower] citizens to advocate for wildlife habitat,” according to SAS.

The Puget Sound Seabird Survey (PSSS), another SAS citizen-science initiative, is a multi-month survey of shorebirds. The information collected helps inform decision makers in the event of an oil spill in Puget Sound that could greatly impact birds in our region.

Nestled in the heart of Seattle’s Wedgewood neighborhood, the SAS runs a birding supply store called The Nature Shop that sells bird-inspired gifts like jewelry and cards. The store boasts that it is “where the profits are for the birds” and, indeed, the store proceeds support initiatives at SAS.

Seattle resident Rachel Lawson serves as a volunteer at The Nature Shop, where she helps patrons find birding supplies like bird books and bird feeders. She also advises the public on how to create a bird-friendly yard by keeping cats indoors and planting native plants for the birds to feed.

In addition to her duties in The Nature Shop, Lawson serves on the SAS board of directors and leads birding field trips. She said that although she has been active in several other birding organizations, she appreciates volunteering for the SAS because they serve as an environmental advocacy organization to protect bird habitat.

Lawson also studied to achieve the title of master birder. She explained that volunteers can take master birding classes through SAS, and in turn, SAS gains a knowledgeable army of birding specialists to run classes and be field guides.

Although the SAS offers a diverse set of programs year-round, this coming May is its annual Birdathon. This affair is a fundraiser and a competitive birding event. Bird watchers challenge themselves and compete against other birders to find as many birds as possible and obtain pledges from friends, family and neighbors for each of their bird sightings.

To participate, start by finding sponsors and then sign up for one of many SAS field trips, or go birding on your own. Check the SAS website ( for more information this spring.

Stellers Jay by Alistair Turner

Steller’s Jay by Alistair Turner

In my North Seattle neighborhood, local birds remind us daily that nature is still close by, even within our city limits. From Steller’s Jays that chastise my dog as they perch on our roof, to the Anna’s hummingbirds that visit my neighbor’s bird feeder, our neighborhood would not feel quite like home without the wild birds.

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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Animal rights focus of upcoming conference


Animal advocates reminding people to not visit circuses

Originally published in  City Living Seattle

January 2014

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

A little education goes a long way, particularly when you are learning about the ins and outs of animal law.

On Jan. 31, the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) is hosting its annual Animal Law Conference in Seattle. The event is offered as continuing education for lawyers whose cases may involve animal products, animal advocates or animals in general. However, the event is also open to local business owners and animal-care workers, including veterinary practitioners and nonprofit professionals, who need to learn about the interface between animals and the law.

Animal law is a wide field of practice that includes matters from veterinarian malpractice to the representation of animal activists who are contributing to the animal-rights movement. Animal-related laws have gotten considerable media attention in recent years as some states and even Congress attempt or succeed in passing “ag-gag” laws, which ban people from filming and exposing cruelty in places like slaughter houses or puppy mills.

Diverse topics

Gemma Zanowski and co-chair Daniel Lutz planned the daylong conference to include topics from pet product intellectual property issues to free speech related to animal advocacy. The conference, entitled “Hear Us Roar: How Animal Law Issues are Shaping Modern Legal Practice,” draws lawyers from around Puget Sound to provide lectures and panels.

Zanowski is opening the conference with the lecture “Animals as Products: Pro or Problem?” This topic has many permutations in our society ranging from product liability, like a sick puppy from a pet store, to co-owning animals in cases of divorce.

The co-chairs have arranged for a wide variety of perspectives to be represented at the conference. Professor John Strait of the Seattle University School of Law is scheduled to present on ethics in animal law, including common dilemmas. Judge Jeanette Dalton of the Kitsap Superior Court will discuss her “behind-the-bench” perspective on animal law issues, including animals in domestic-violence protection orders.

Of special interest to retailers of pet-related products or services and to nonprofit animal groups, Susan Friedman, an intellectual-property associate patent attorney, is prepared to lecture on intellectual property and Internet law relating to animal organizations. Freidman says that knowledge of trademark and copyright protections is important for people starting their own animal groups. In particular, the reputation of an organization’s work should be secured by protecting the organization’s brand and name.

Among other topics, Friedman will discuss ways to protect intellectual property from misuse by others and additional legal concerns stemming from the use of different forms of social media.

Animal activism

The afternoon conference proceedings conclude with a panel of animal-advocacy experts. Jenn Kaplan, a local attorney with the Gilbert H. Levy Law Firm in Seattle, and Matthew Liebman, from the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), will speak, along with Darius Fullmer.

Fullmer is an animal activist who, along with five other individuals (and a corporation), was charged and convicted for communicating via email and the Internet about the need to end animal testing at Huntington Life Sciences in New Jersey. Kaplan, Liebman and Fullmer’s panel will cover the various aspects of free speech in the context of animal activism.

Kaplan practices criminal law in Seattle but also represents animal activists who have been charged for speaking out against animal abuse. With many years of experience in this field, Kaplan hopes to help fellow lawyers understand how to defend clients charged for exposing animal cruelty and speaking out against animal oppression. She will clarify the difference between free-speech rights, as opposed to making threats within the context of activism.

Additionally, Kaplan will share the importance of understanding the perspective of animal activists so their lawyers can effectively work for their defense.

Liebman is an ALDF senior attorney and provides conference-goers with information on “ag-gag” laws. Such laws have been proposed or even passed in states where animal-welfare organizations have been successful in exposing extreme animal cruelty, such as beating and skinning live animals in slaughterhouses or raiding dog-fighting rings.

To date, only one person has been charged under an “ag-gag” law. A young woman in Utah was charged for filming a factory farm from a public road, because some “ag-gag” laws criminalize even the collection of information. Liebman will discuss the implications of such laws as contrary to our First Amendment right of free speech.

Empowering all advocates

The Animal Law Conference is open for the public to attend. While many of us may not spend our days considering the technical details of animal law and cases of free speech, these issues can hit us hard when we are confronted with a situation of animal cruelty or neglect.

Neighbors who see chained dogs in an adjacent yard or communities outraged by animal-hoarding conditions may wonder why some situations are not against the law. Often, the details of animal protection and cruelty cases are complex, but knowledge of such issues can also give us the power to act and empower us to be better advocates for animals, whether they are neighborhood dogs or animals in factory farms.

To learn more about the Animal Law Conference, visit the Washington State Bar Association website at and search the conference title.

For more information on the Animal Legal Defense Fund, visit

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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Seattle Animal Shelter gets upgrades

Artist concept of the Seattle Animal Shelter renovations (photo courtesy of SAS)

Artist concept of the Seattle Animal Shelter renovations (photo courtesy of SAS)

by Christie Lagally

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

December 2013

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

Most weekend afternoons are bustling with patrons at the Seattle Animal Shelter (SAS) as families visit in the hopes of adopting a furry family member. But recently, the shelter has been a bit quieter while the building undergoes renovation of its dog kennels, a project that requires most of the animals to reside in foster care for more than a month.

In November, SAS foster families were called upon to take not just dogs but also rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters that were displaced by the renovation. Amazingly and generously, the shelter’s volunteer community rose to the occasion and took nearly every dog and small animal into its collective care.

Guinea pigs at SAS

Guinea pigs at SAS

Although few animals are currently residing in the shelter, fostered animals are brought in during open hours to meet with potential new families. On a recent Saturday, SAS volunteer Rose Torbin introduced me to some guinea pigs that were spending the day in the shelter lobby for an adoption event. Torbin is part of the Critter Team at SAS, and she is also serving as a foster parent to two rats, Lucy and Pixal, during the renovation.

Creating a better environment

It has been about a decade since the dog kennels had been upgraded. Thanks to an $80,000 grant from the Seattle Animal Shelter Foundation, $68,000 from the shelter’s Help the Animals Fund and $12,000 of city building funds, a three-phase project is being implemented to upgrade the entire facility.

Cat Condos at SAS

Cat Condos at SAS

As part of phase one, cat condos were purchased for the front corridor of the shelter just last year, and the in-progress kennel upgrades are designed to make the space more dog- and adopter-friendly.

Seattle Animal Shelter director Don Jordan explained that the kennels were once designed for a shelter where dogs did not stay long. But, today, the shelter boasts a 93-percent live-release rate for animals coming into their care. Live-release rates are a measure of how many animals can be successfully returned to their owner or re-homed upon arrival at the shelter, and this includes animals that are too sick or injured and must be euthanized.

The kennel upgrades were designed by SHKS Architects in Seattle, and major work was well underway by mid-November. The chain-link doors on each kennel were removed, and all poles and sound baffling were taken out so the floors and walls could be resurfaced.

Jordan explained that small dogs would often slip past the poles in the kennels; hence, the area was not safe for all dogs in residence. The newly renovated kennels will have glass doors with a visual barrier to calm dogs that are stressed by seeing other dogs nearby. Renovations are expected to be complete by mid-December.

Phase two of the shelter renovations will include upgrades to the facility’s HVAC system. Jordan explained that improving ventilation should help reduce incidences of upper respiratory infections (URI) that commonly inflict dogs and cats residing in shelters or kennels.

“Our goal is to create a healthy and happy environment as a whole,” Jordan said.

Rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs and other small critters will be the beneficiaries of phase three of the renovation project. Additionally, upgrades to the shelter’s kitchen and laundry areas are planned.

Donations are needed to help fund phase three, and the shelter will work with the Seattle Animal Shelter Foundation for longer-term planning.

Currently, critters are housed in four dog kennels separate from the main kennel room. The space is not ideal for smaller furry friends that are primarily housed in larger rodent cages placed along the walls. Upgrades to this area will include a more enriching space for these special creatures.

Community partnerships

During kennel renovations, the shelter is not taking in animals, but it has provided the public with alternatives for dealing with stray or surrendered animals. If you find a stray, you are asked to hold the animal and check for tags or ask a local veterinary office to scan for a microchip. With this information, list the animal on SAS’s Reuniting Owners with Missing Pets System (ROMPS) online database (

You can also post the found animal on local blogs or put up flyers around the neighborhood to find the owner.

In the event the animal’s owners cannot be located, SAS has partnered with local shelters, including Seattle Humane Society and PAWS, which have offered to take in surrenders during the temporary intake closure.

Jordan said that people have been very understanding when they find they cannot surrender an animal during the renovation.

Once phase one renovations are complete, the shelter will host a reopening event; watch its website for more information.

In the meantime, animals in foster care and cats residing at the shelter are available for adoption. You can visit the Seattle Animal Shelter at 2061 15th Ave. W. in Interbay, and follow the shelter’s progress as it works to make our local animal shelter increasingly comfortable, welcoming and safe for animals and people alike.

To foster, volunteer or adopt at the Seattle Animal Shelter, visit To learn more or donate to the Seattle Animal Shelter Foundation,

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a writer and the editor of Living Humane, a news site about 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: Doney clinic serves pets of homeless, low-income

Dr R (right) and Princess

Dr Radheshwar (right) and Princess

By Christie Lagally

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

Nov. 14, 2013

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

The Seattle rain poured down so hard on Pioneer Square this September day that only a handful of people were waiting outside of the Union Gospel Mission homeless shelter. I was told to watch for a long line of people with their dogs, cats, ferrets and other animals waiting on the sidewalk for the afternoon Doney Memorial Pet Clinic. But this Saturday was too wet, and instead, the group was indoors, enjoying each other’s company and waiting a turn for veterinary care for their animals.

For more than 28 years, Doney Memorial Pet Clinic has provided veterinary care to the animals of Seattle’s homeless and low-income residents.

As I took cover inside the Union Gospel Mission, the multi-purpose room was being arranged as an impromptu pet supply store, as Carol Dougherty and her fellow volunteers were frantically bringing in donated bags of dog food out of the drenching rain. Part of the mission of the Doney Clinic is to provide clients with pet supplies. Dougherty was setting up shop for the afternoon.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVolunteers at the Doney Clinic have their hands full on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month as they coordinate more than 50 people (and around 65 accompanying animals) who arrive early and wait several hours to see a veterinarian. Some pet owners are homeless while others are low-income, but they all share the compassion for their animals and the responsibility to get them veterinary care.

Seattle resident Bill Smith was waiting for a diagnosis for his senior Malamute-mix dog, Princess, who was having trouble with stiffness in her legs. Smith has been coming to the Doney Clinic for roughly 20 years with dogs that he has rescued and taken care of until the end of their lives.

“There are always dogs that need a home,” Smith said of the many dogs he has cared for over the years.

Dr. Mona Radheshwar, DVM, was one of three attending veterinarians volunteering her time and skills for the clinic. One after another, Radheshwar saw cats, dogs and a tiny little kitten. Meanwhile, a veterinarian assistant who was there to hold animals, also attempted to configure better lighting in the rustic basement exam room, and other volunteers mopped up a rain-soaked floor and checked patients into the clinic.

What’s needed most

The Doney Clinic was started in 1985 by Dr. Bud Doney to provide veterinary care for the animals of homeless and low-income residents in Seattle’s Pike Street Market area. When Doney passed away, local veterinarian Dr. Stan Coe was instrumental in reviving this service in 1986. He and two fellow board members of the Delta Society, Louise Garbe and Don Rolf, took on the mission to run the clinic.

Twenty-eight years later, these dedicated visionaries continue to ensure this service is available. From her Greenwood residence, Garbe takes care of paying the clinic’s bills and accepting donations from the public, and Coe regularly sees patients at the Doney Clinic.

Back in the attending room, Radheshwar provides Smith with some arthritis medication but also recommends X-rays of Princess’ back. In these cases, when additional veterinary care such as x-rays or surgery is needed, clients are referred to a local veterinary hospital.

Garbe explained that to help low-income or homeless residents pay for ancillary veterinary care, the Doney Clinic pays the cost for services rendered, but each client signs a contract agreeing to pay those costs back over time. Additionally, the local vet clinic graciously discounts its services for Doney Clinic clients.

As Smith arranges final paperwork for Princess, about 30 people and their animals are still patiently waiting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow, several hours into the clinic, many in the waiting room had picked up donated dog or cat food from the clinic pantry and were provided with leashes, pet beds, dog coats and other donated accessories to meet each animal’s needs.

A few new clients stagger in from the rain to see if there is any dog food left. Luckily, with today’s large donations, there was enough food to go around, but the shop was out of cat litter before the end of the day.

Donations of cat and dog supplies come from a variety of locations, including pet supply stores. All the Best Pet Care in Queen Anne maintains an ongoing collection bin for food and supply donations.

“[The Doney Clinic] often lets us know what they need most,” explained Amanda Fox of All the Best Pet Care. Fox said that when customers ask what would be helpful to donate, the store recommends items that the Doney Clinic needs. Donations of used leashes, coats and beds are also gratefully accepted from the public.

All playing a part

As the hectic afternoon began to wind down, I got a chance to pet a few dog ears and scratch the chins of some patiently waiting cats. I could not help but stand in awe of the enormous coordination it takes to bring the Doney Pet Memorial Clinic to life on these Saturday afternoons.

The volunteers, the veterinarians, the assistants and the dedicated pet owners each expertly played their part to ensure that this special community of animals gets the care they need.

To learn more about the Doney Memorial Pet Clinic or to donate or volunteer, visit

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

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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Art for Animals’ Sake


Sign at the gallery

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in City Living Seattle

Oct. 17, 2013

(C) Pacific Publishing Company

Photojournalist David Walega knows how to capture a potent moment in time for people and animals alike. Walega’s career has taken him to Africa and back covering stories from war to homelessness.

In recent years, this Seattle photographer now shares with others how art — including drawing, painting, ceramics and photography — can help us discover our inherent empathy for all animals.

Walega is the founder of Art for Animals’ Sake (AFAS), a Seattle-based nonprofit that provides education to support animal-cruelty prevention and awareness of animal advocacy issues through art. Along with animal advocate Melanie Sears and art instructor Jessica Ishmeal, this organization holds art classes and provides other opportunities for young people to learn drawing, photography and painting as a way to connect with animals. The goal of AFAS’s workshops is to instill a sense of compassion toward animals through the intimate act of art and to help the artist make future life choices with kindness toward animals in mind.

‘Black cat syndrome’

I met in Walega and Sears at a fund-raiser hosted by Wallflower Custom Framing in West Seattle, where local glass artist Shannon Felix was selling custom-glass black cat sculptures to benefit AFAS.

Black cat figurine

Black cat figurine

Much like the featured cat figurine, Felix’s studio, Avalon Glassworks, creates unique blown-glass art with stunning colors and deep tones reminiscent of Impressionist paintings. Felix explained that her previous experience sculpting animals was inspired by her leopard gecko, but this was her first time sculpting cats.

Felix and Walega collaborated to feature the black cat sculpture to bring awareness to the issue of so-called black-cat or black-dog syndrome. This is a phenomenon anecdotally seen by animal shelter workers in which black animals are often overlooked for adoption despite equally pleasant temperaments, compared to their lighter-colored counterparts. Walega explains that this may be because darker animals do not appear as well in photographs on animal adoption sites.

Bea Hughes, a coaching professional and fellow member of the West Seattle Westside Professionals business association, attended the fund-raiser and was picking out one of the cat sculptures when we met.

“I love that he’s doing this,” Hughes said about Walega’s work as both an artist and an animal advocate. “Artists can depict an element of society to call attention to their needs.”

(To purchase a black cat sculpture to support AFAS, visit

The human-animal bond

Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets (PSKS)

Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets (PSKS)

Following an assignment to document the daily lives of homeless youths in Seattle, Walega arranged one of the first AFAS workshops, where he taught drawing, fine art and painting to homeless youths and young adults at a shelter operated by Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets (PSKS) in Capitol Hill. PSKS ( offers support services to homeless youths and young adults, as well as to their companion animals. This workshop helped participants focus on their love for their companion animals by depicting them in works of art.

In 2012, AFAS began their “Day in the Life” project to document the relationship that homeless people have with their animals. With guidance from instructors, images produced by young, amateur photographers using disposable cameras tell a compelling story of the importance of the human-animal bond for homeless residents of Seattle. (Images of this ongoing project are on-line at

AFAS recently received a grant from the World Peace Earth Foundation ( and the Pollination Project ( to offer its Animals R. Terrific (ART) workshop this October. The event will focus on teaching compassion for all animals through art, and the event includes a plant-based lunch free of animal products. Trader Joes and Seattle’s Field Roast Grain Meat Co. are providing in-kind donations for the event menu.

The muses for the workshop will be chickens Pearl, Millie, and Gertrude, whose human caretaker will bring the gals to the studio for the afternoon. Although backyard chickens are legal in Seattle, most chickens in the United States live in cramped and cruel conditions in factory farms and are used for egg or meat production.

The ART workshop is a rare opportunity for teenagers to observe these animals in an art studio and learn to replicate their colorful feathers in paint and pencil.

According to Walega and Sears, this workshop gives students the opportunity to see chickens as individual beings rather than a meal.

The Animals R. Terrific Workshop is on Sunday, Oct. 20, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and is open to kids 10 to 15 years old. Visit the Art for Animals’ Sake website to learn more about this organization or to register for the workshop.

Another avenue

While animal advocacy comes in many forms ranging from direct rescue, sheltering, protesting or working toward legislation, using art to help people connect with animals opens up another avenue to share the reasons we must protect animals.

Art for Animals’ Sake is working through art to help people find the emotional awareness and empathy to consider the well-being of all animals in the choices of our daily lives.

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a writer and the editor of Living Humane ( She also writes a blog called “Sniffing Out Home: A Search for Animal Welfare Solutions” at To comment on this column, write to

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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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