PAWS Magazine

Issue 42, Summer 1999

PAWS finds homes for animals that fall through the cracks

Last year the PAWS shelter received close to 4,000 cats, dogs, and rabbits. The Wildlife Center received more than 5,000 wild animals. But what about domestic chickens? Or lizards? Or doves? These animals—animals that don’t fall within the domain of either the PAWS Companion Animal Shelter or the Wildlife Center—fall into the lap of Advocacy’s Vicki Nelson.

Vicki coordinates the PAWS Rescue Program. She has helped chickens, parrots, snakes, lizards, doves, pheasants, and dozens of other animals find appropriate homes. The animals generally come to PAWS as strays, having been abandoned by their original guardians.

"Usually someone will find the animal, and bring it to the Wildlife Center," said Vicki. But the Wildlife Center only accepts non-domesticated wild animals capable of being rehabilitated back into wild. So the Wildlife Center will call Vicki.

Vicki’s job is doubly difficult. Not only does she have to find a rescue home for the animal, but she has to help provide care for the animal until she does find a home.

Sometimes this means sharing her office with some noisy friends. Recently Vicki picked up two Cockatiels from a local Petco store. Someone had walked into the store, and dumped the birds and their cage on the front counter. They were emaciated, and missing large patches of feathers from stress-induced self mutilation. Vicki cared for the birds over the next several weeks as she tried to find them a rescue home.

"I probably called thirty different people," says Vicki. Finally Vicki was able to recruit a representative from the Seattle Pet Bird Club to take the birds.

Vicki has developed a network of local groups and agencies who are willing to accept rescue animals. Members of her network include Pasado’s Safe Haven, which accepts all types of rescued farm animals, Rabbit Haven in Gig Harbor, which accepts rabbits as well as small mammals, and Pig’s Peace in Arlington, which rescues potbellied pigs. Sandi Ackerman’s Best Little Rabbit, Rodent, and Ferret House in Lake City is a particular favorite of Vicki’s. "Sandi knows everything there is to know about rabbits," said Vicki. At her facility, Sandi rescues rabbits, gerbils, rats, prairie dogs, ferrets, hedgehogs, mice, sugar gliders, and other small mammals.

Vicki also has put created a network of individuals who are interested in rescuing farm animals and exotic animals. The Advocacy Department requires that people interested in rescuing an animal have prior knowledge or experience with that type of animal. The rescuers are required to sign a contract indicating that they will provide adequate medical care for the animal, and will guarantee a home for the animal for the rest of its natural life.

PAWS News readers interested in joining the Advocacy Department’s Rescue Network are encouraged to call Vicki Nelson at (425) 787-2500 extension 812 for an application. "People who fill out an application are under no obligation to take an animal," explained Vicki. "When I get an animal in, I start calling the people in the network. I don’t have any problem with people waiting for the right animal before they say yes."

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