Animal Aid PDX Celebrates 50 Years


The Grassroots Organization Gets a Mid-Life TransFURmation

It doesn’t get much more grassroots than a nonprofit whose mission sprouted on the grounds of Laurelhurst Park in Portland. It was there that Animal Aid’s founders, Jack and Kathryn Hurd, began rescuing abandoned pets and rehabilitating injured wildlife in 1969. The couple not only opened their hearts and home to these animals, but gave them a voice through Jack’s career as a radio talk show host.

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“As listeners tuned into Jack’s show, learned the plight of the animals the Hurds were saving, and shared their own stories and struggles as pet guardians, the concept of Animal Aid took shape,” said the shelter’s Director of Operations, Paige España.

The Hurds’ first step in assisting the community was to enlist the help of local veterinarians and pet supply stores who were willing to offer their services and products at a reduced rate. Jack and Kathryn paid for some expenses from their own pocket, and eventually Jack’s listeners began to donate as well. Over time, the couple acquired a core team of volunteers to help with fostering, adoptions, delivering food, and whatever else came up.

Flash forward to today, and the now 50-year-old rescue is still driven by the compassion of its volunteers, supporters, and a small dedicated staff. Animal Aid is focused on providing individualized care and a lifelong commitment to each of its animals, including those referred to as “Heartstrings pets”—those with special medical or behavioral needs.

Animal Aid PDX today. The organization also operates a free-roam shelter for cats, a network of foster homes for dogs and cats, and two partnership programs to help fun urgent veterinary care and dog spay/neuter surgeries.

Animal Aid PDX today. The organization also operates a free-roam shelter for cats, a network of foster homes for dogs and cats, and two partnership programs to help fun urgent veterinary care and dog spay/neuter surgeries.

“We’re focused on quality over quantity, which to us means providing as much time and resources to each animal as they need and working diligently to make thoughtful adoptions that result in forever where their personality and needs are the right match for a family’s expectations and capacity” España explained.

To accomplish their mission, Animal Aid operates a free-roam shelter for cats, a network of foster homes for dogs and cats, and two partnership programs to provide funding for urgent vet care and canine spay/neuter services.

“One of the really cool things we’ve been able to do is carry forward the collaborative relationship with local veterinarians that the Hurds helped establish 50 years ago, and our Animal Aid Cares Fund is a direct link to that,” said España. “Through this program, we partner with vet clinics to provide a monthly stipend they can pass along to their clients facing urgent and overwhelming medical or behavioral expenses.”

Many changes have taken place for the nonprofit over the decades, and particularly in the last two years as they embarked on a full shelter remodel, adding several new animal care rooms and renovating all existing spaces to allow the organization to increase its rescue capacity by 25 percent.

“We looked at all the ways we could improve our programming, and increasing our rescue capacity was at the top of the list. As a result of our renovations, we can do just that, in addition to increased enrichment for cats and dogs and improved work spaces for volunteers and staff. We’re just putting the final touches on everything, and already we’re seeing a positive impact on our ability to serve the homeless cats and dogs in our community.”

— Beth Ernst, Animal Aid Board President

In order to make the upgrades possible, Animal Aid kicked off their Shelter TransFURmation Remodel Capital Campaign in 2017, offering supporters the chance to help pay for the renovations with naming opportunities in recognition of their sponsorship. Learn more at or by attending Animal Aid’s open house on July 20th that will mark the official unveiling of the remodel.

In addition to their open house, be sure to mark your calendars for Animal Aid’s 50th anniversary party, Apawllo 50, when the rescue will celebrate in style.

“Animal Aid’s roots stem from building connections with others, animals and humans alike. So whether you can join us at our open house this summer, our 50th anniversary party this fall, or drop by the shelter for a visit sometime in between, we’re excited to welcome everyone to our rescue and celebrate this commemorative year with the community that made it possible.”
— Paige España, Animal Aid Operations Director

Matchmaker: The Dutch Bunny

By Megan Noes, Spot Magazine.

Size: Small (3.5 - 5.5 lbs.)

Grooming needs: Fairly Minimal  

Exercise: Moderate   

Environment: Rabbit-proofed room, exercise pen or a large cage

Temperament: Friendly, Easy Going, Intelligent

Life Expectancy: ~ 8 yrs.

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Interesting Fact

The Dutch rabbit is one of the oldest domesticated breeds and has a contested origin. It may be from the Netherlands or England in the mid-19th century. This breed is also known as the Hollander or Brabander.


Dutch rabbits are small but are not a dwarf breed. Their body, head and ears are compact and rounded. They have powerful back legs, which are longer than the front legs. Dutch have a short, soft coat and a characteristic color pattern. They have a white base color with six officially recognized different combinations including Black, Chinchilla, and Chocolate. The colors are distinct on the body with a white blaze up the face, white paws and – when seen from the side – a distinctive white triangle running from the shoulder to the front paws.


Dutch rabbits are known to be both friendly and intelligent and are a favorite of the pet rabbit world. In the past, they have often been the choice of pet stores. This quite sociable bunny can be very energetic and become bored without plenty of stimulation. Pet parents can have a lot of fun with interchangeable toys, from digging platforms, to cardboard boxes and puzzle toys to simple toys like paper towel rolls! Dutch are known to be easily trained, including for litter box use.

Common Health Problems

Rabbits’ teeth continually grow so they need to be regularly offered apple wood or other chew items to keep them even. The Dutch breed are prone to the same health issues as other types of rabbits, such as, GI stasis, respiratory disease, tooth misalignment, mites, and, in unspayed females, uterine cancer. Spaying or neutering your rabbit will not only help them live longer, healthier lives but will also help control the rabbit overpopulation issue. A dietary note is that though pellets play an important role in daily nutrition, a primarily pellet-based diet is like feeding a child cake every day. Hay should be the main source of food and prevent GI stasis (bacterial buildup and bloating.)  Rabbits also enjoy many fruits and vegetables, including basil and carrot tops, just in limited amounts.

Best Match

Rabbits are social animals that need exercise, a nice habitat, and grooming. A rabbit parent should be prepared to spend time every day interacting with and caring for their bunny. Rabbits do well in pairs, just remember to always spay or neuter before mixing genders even as young as 3 months. Bunnies need a minimum of three hours out of their enclosure daily. Wild rabbits would get about three miles of exercise each day. Keeping your rabbit as a house pet, as opposed to living in an outdoor hutch, can make it a lot easier for him/her to stretch their legs, jump, run and spend time with their people. Rabbits can be litter box trained, but you may from time to time be vacuuming some pellets off the ground.

The rabbit(s) will need a litter box, places to sleep and hide, food and water, toys, and things to chew in a spacious area. The food and water should not be near the litter box. Like cats, rabbits self-groom, but still need their nails trimmed regularly and their coat brushed if it’s long. Rabbits rarely require baths.

Above all, a rabbit’s best match is a loving home where they will be cared for their entire lives. Many rabbits find themselves in rescues and shelters as pet guardians may not initially consider the long-term commitment and time involved in their care.

Featured Adoptable

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This little guy is a Dutch bunny who is about seven weeks old and being fostered in the Eugene area. He is the sole survivor of a pair found in someone’s yard without their mama.  A petite little bun, he is growing fast and looking for his forever home! For more information, contact MJ's Bunny Barn at 541-908-3252

Meet an Adoptable Dutch Bunny

This little guy is a Dutch bunny who is about seven weeks old and being fostered in the Eugene area. He is the sole survivor of a pair found in someone’s yard without their mama.  A petite little bun, he is growing fast and looking for his forever home! For more information, contact MJ's Bunny Barn at 541-908-3252

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Spotlight on...Rhodesian Ridgeback

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The Rhodesian Ridgeback

Megan Noes, Spot Magazine

Size:  Large (70 - 80 lb.)

Grooming needs:  Minimal

Exercise:  High

Environment:  Adaptable to hot climates

Temperament: Athletic, Affectionate

Life Expectancy: 10 – 12 yrs.

Interesting Fact

Ridged hunting dogs roamed the land long before colonizers set foot in southern Africa. They were the trusted companion and hunting dog of the African Khoikhoi (Hottentot) people. Later, colonizers brought other dogs that crossed with the Khoikhoi dogs and produced a new kind of ridged hunting dog that was highly prized by big game hunters. By 1922, as big game hunting began to fade, enthusiasts drew from the Dalmatian Standard to develop the breed standard for what is now the 41st most popular dog in the U.S.  


The Rhodesian Ridgeback (nicknamed either Rhodie or Ridgie) is a strong, muscular and agile dog. Its frame is balanced and elegant; it’s bred for endurance rather than bulk. The most distinctive feature is, of course, the ridge of hair that grows against the grain. The ridge is clearly defined and symmetrical, starting right behind the shoulders and tapering to the hip. The Ridgeback’s coat color is “wheaten,” which implies the color of a ripe ear of wheat. It ranges from a pale-yellow shade, “fawn,” to a dark chestnut brown, “red wheaten.” The nose is either black or brown and the eye color reflects the color of the nose. Ridgebacks have strong, smooth tails with a gentle curve towards the end.


Rhodies are intelligent and intense, but also sensitive. Natural hunters and athletes, Rhodies have been known as lion dogs because they were fierce enough to corner a lion and keep him at bay while the hunter approached. At home, however, these performance athletes have a famously affectionate nature, known to be couch hogs who often cuddle with other pets or lean into their human companions. As snuggly and attached as they become with their favorite humans, they can be generally aloof with strangers. Beware of leaving food out as Rhodies are world class counter surfers -- no food is safe!

Common Health Problems

This is a generally healthy breed, but can be prone to elbow dysplasia, canine hip dysplasia, and hypothyroidism. Deafness and dermoid sinus are also occasionally seen in the breed.

Best Match

Rhodies tend to be clean and quiet around the house, lounging while the world revolves around them. This pup needs physical and mental enrichment and is a good match for people who enjoy getting at least an hour of daily exercise. Pet parents can offer running, hiking and other activities like obedience, tracking and agility classes to meet these needs. This breed usually gets along well with household dogs and cats but will likely chase cats outdoors. The best matches are usually experienced dog handlers, especially active single people and families with older children, as Rhodies may accidentally knock over little ones. Either way, once you’ve befriended a Rhodie, you've got a faithful friend for life.


Megan Noes lives in New York City, with her husband, Jacob, Frenchie Bulldog, Nono, and a revolving door of foster kittens. She works for a major animal welfare organization and loves her former home in the Pacific Northwest.