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

K9 Blood Donors are Lifesavers


Calamity Jane has donated 21 units in 5 years.

Calamity Jane has donated 21 units in 5 years.

Cancer treatment, severe injuries, treatment for autoimmune disorders and viruses like Parvo — these are a handful of the reasons why NW pets might need to receive blood transfusions. Without them, many pets would not survive. And keeping a ready supply is a year-round challenge, but demand peaks in the summer months.

As with human blood supplies, patients in emergency situations rely on hospitals to have a ready supply of the right blood type, in the right amount, at the right location when it’s needed. Human blood is largely collected and distributed by the Red Cross and its countless volunteer donors around the world. But veterinary hospitals rely on supplies from the Portland’s DoveLewis Blood Bank.

That blood bank, in turn, relies on the dogs and their human companions to volunteer for donations. Right now, increased demand at the DoveLewis emergency hospital and at other area clinic has created a critical shortage for several blood types.

The DoveLewis blood bank is putting out a call for new canine blood donors. “We call our donors Superheroes because they are truly saving lives,.” says DoveLewis president and CEO Ron Morgan. “Just one donation can help treat up to four animals.”

Calamity Jane donates blood at DoveLewis.

Calamity Jane donates blood at DoveLewis.

DoveLewis — which throws a yearly celebration of its active and retired blood donors, says Calamity Jane’s recent donations helped save the lives of a 3-year-old Australian shepherd suffering from rat bait poisoning and a 5-year-old pit bull with an autoimmune disorder.

Blood donations need to come from medium-to-large dogs (Greyhounds are revered as excellent donors), but they don’t need to be a particular breed or type. Dogs simply need to be at least 55 pounds, between 1-6 years old, current on vaccines, generally healthy, and good-natured about the donation process.

DoveLewis says the donation process is quick, easy, and painless for both the canine donor and the human companion. The blood bank will ask volunteers to commit to being regular donors for two years, with at least two but no more than six donations each year. In return, donors receive annual blood tests, exams, health screenings, and discounts on some products.

How to Help:

Go to the DoveLewis Blood Bank website for more information.

Foam-Covered Kitten Rescued from Garbage May Return Home

May 16, 2019

The 8-week-old male kitten rescued by a Washington County garbage collector is expected to make a full recovery and may soon return home. For now, he’s receiving care at Bonnie Hays Animal Shelter in Hillsboro, OR. While Washington County Sheriffs investigators continue their investigation, they say at this point the residents at the kitten’s home are not suspects.

"They have said they want the kitten back,” says Deputy Brian van Kleef, who acknowledged his department has received many questions about why the kitten would be returned. The kitten appears to have been born to a feral cat that the family cares for. Deputies collected evidence from the home’s property, but van Kleef says at this time the home’s residents are not suspects in the animal abuse case.

A garbage collector discovered the kitten on May 3 while collecting trash from the home on SW Minter Bridge Road, in an unincorporated area of Washington County south of Hillsboro. According to a WCSO news release, a driver was trying to empty the trash can using a hydraulic arm, when he noticed the contents weren’t emptying. After a closer look, the driver discovered a tiny kitten encased in sticky spray foam and hanging from his back legs inside the trash container. The kitten was making a whining noise, even with his head and face fully covered in the foam.

The driver took the garbage can back to the Hillsboro Garbage Disposal Facility, where workers freed the small gray kitten from the trash can and tried to remove some of the foam before taking the kitten to a nearby veterinarian for care. After treatment, the kitten was transferred to the Washington County Bonnie L. Hays Animal Shelter for care. The kitten remains at the shelter as of today.

The garbage can came from a property with two residences and multiple rented outbuildings. Investigators say that with so many people coming and going from the property, it’s difficult to determine who might be responsible, but they believe the act was intentional. Investigators recovered a can of spray foam from the property and are having it tested for fingerprints.

“We’re just hoping someone has a tip,” says Deputy van Kleef. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Corporal Brandon Talbott at 503-846-2700.

The kitten receiving care at a veterinary clinic after most of the spray foam was removed.

The kitten receiving care at a veterinary clinic after most of the spray foam was removed.

The kitten’s face and body, covered with spray foam.

The kitten’s face and body, covered with spray foam.

The trash can where the kitten was stuck, suspended from his rear legs.

The trash can where the kitten was stuck, suspended from his rear legs.

Life-Saving Research Animal Rescue Bill becomes Law in Oregon

Update: Governor Kate Brown signed this bill into law on June 13, 2019. You can read the entire bill’s language and see the vote history here.

Layla, a beagle who spent her first 1 1/2 years of life in a research laboratory, appears before a legislative committee.

Layla, a beagle who spent her first 1 1/2 years of life in a research laboratory, appears before a legislative committee.

May 2, 2019

Oregon’s Senate Bill 638-A would require public and private research facilities to offer dogs and cats to shelters and rescue agencies at the end of their research time, rather than euthanizing them, which currently standard practice.

With strong bipartisan support, no anticipated fiscal impact, and no organized opposition, the bill appears destined to find itself on the governor’s desk. Meanwhile, its committee hearings have been an unusually sweet break from the sometimes-contentious and always high-stress atmosphere in Salem’s capitol building.

When Portland-area elementary school students were assigned to research and form an educated position on a social issue, students gravitated to an issue involving pets. When they learned that laboratories commonly euthanize one- or two-year-old animals — most often beagles — when they’re no longer useful in research, they said they wanted to help change the fate of these animals. Learning that other states have bills requiring retired research animals to be placed for adoption, the students approached their state senator.

Appearing in a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on May 2, Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-NW Portland/Beaverton) waved across the hearing room to Layla the beagle. “I’m all about the beagles,” she beamed. Asked whether the state’s shelter and rescue organizations have the capacity to receive and place these retired research animals, the senator said, “Yes. The Humane Society is here and they’ll tell you that the capacity exists.”

The senator described the meeting where the young students initially approached her about introducing the bill. They were so well informed and persuasive that she didn’t hesitate to introduce the legislation.

The bill’s cosponsor, Representative Mitch Greenlick, (D-Portland) spoke of the beagle who once “owned” his family. “If you haven’t had a beagle, you don’t know the pleasure of having a dog who’s smarter than you,” he joked to the committee. “This is a bill we can all feel good about.”

Also in the hearing, Layla’s adopter described her dog’s first year of life. “She was in a cage. She never knew what would happen to her next.” When the dog was released at just 1 1/2 years old and came to live in Linn County with her adopters, “she walked on grass for the first time. She learned to take treats from someone’s hand. She rode in a car for the first time.” Now, at five years old, her life generally resembles that of any other family pet.

Sharon Harmon, CEO of Oregon Humane Society, wrote in testimony to the committee, “These cats and dogs still have the capacity to be companions and we have the skills to match the right people with these special animals. This bill would open the door to partnerships that could save thousands of lives and enrich the lives of those who take them in.”

The bill, which passed the Senate by unanimous vote in March, likely had its final public hearing on March 2 before the House Judiciary Committee. Committee members swooned at 2nd-grade students presenting handwritten testimony and raised their smart phones to snap photos of Layla the beagle.

Representative Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte) asked Layla’s adopter whether the 5-year-old dog is always so quiet. The beagle sat silently on her adopter’s lap, exchanging glances with grinning committee members and posing patiently for swarms of smart phones and cameras. “No,” her adopter smiled.

“Well, she’s a very well-behaved dog,” Rep. McLane commented, adding that he intends to vote yes on the bill.

Speaking on behalf of Spot Magazine, managing editor Michelle Blake told the committee, “Senate Bill 638 fits the character of our region. Until we eliminate the use of animals in laboratories, Oregonians do -- and will continue to -- embrace the opportunity to give those animals a second chance at a happy life. Even if they present with emotional or physical challenges, even if they require a special kind of home.”

Elle, a 2nd grade student from Portland, greets Layla in the lobby after testifying in favor of SB 638-A.

Elle, a 2nd grade student from Portland, greets Layla in the lobby after testifying in favor of SB 638-A.

Students testify about why they asked the senator to introduce the bill. Committee members capture the moment on their smart phones.

Students testify about why they asked the senator to introduce the bill. Committee members capture the moment on their smart phones.

SPLASH! Dock Diving

by Christy Doherty

As one of the fastest-growing canine sports in the world, dock diving is making a big splash with dogs and humans alike. Enthusiasts in the Northwest are fortunate that Hillsboro is home to an indoor dock diving facility.

The facility makes year-round practice and competition both possible and fun. “The dream of opening a combination rehab and indoor dock diving facility became real almost four years ago,” explains Diane Kunkle, certified Canine Rehab Practitioner, who co-owns Paws Aquatics Water Sports and Rehab with Julie Thomas.

In dock-diving events, dogs run the length of a dock and leap as far as possible into the water, competing for distance, height, or -- in timed events -- for speed. Human competitors throw a prized toy just out of reach, motivating dogs to keep their momentum and launch into the pool at the best-possible angle.

The sport offers variations on the diving theme. For example, an in-the-air retrieve event, the coveted dog toy is suspended four feet above the water to start, moving higher as dogs complete each level.

With its growing popularity, the sport is drawing a wider variety of breeds. “About 10 years ago, it was pretty much all Labs, but then the other breeds started to try it. Right now Whippets kind of rule the sport,” Kunkle explained.

When Spot Magazine attended a February dock diving event, a Whippet named Sounders jumped so far he touched the back of the pool -- a little over 33.5 feet. The impressive dive matched his world-record jump in December’s National competition.

It’s an equal-opportunity sport. Whether low-slung lap dog or tall Russian Wolfhound, in this game, size really doesn’t matter, and the mix of breeds is endless. The sport’s organizing body, North America Diving Dogs (NADD), divides dogs into two size divisions -- those 16 inches or taller at the withers, and those shorter. There are also divisions like novice, junior, senior, master and elite within each height category.

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Getting their Paws Wet

Dogs benefit from the equalizing effect of water, making the sport accessible to all sizes and ages. “All they need is a strong toy drive and a love for swimming,” Kunkle enthused. “We have two labs who still compete at age 14.”

Kunkle says new dogs get a slow introduction to the sport. “We start them off the side deck, only 8 inches off the water, before moving them to the dock,” she explained.

Jenn Zimmerly-Offinga of Hillsboro competes with Motive, a Boston Terrier whose food drive outpaces her interest in toys. The pair manage a compromise. “For Motive, it’s all about food,” Zimmerly-Offinga laughs. “She doesn’t work for free. Food IS her reward, and there’s no food allowed on the dock. We have to go flying right back to the crate, because she needs a paycheck. Some dogs are volunteers; some need a paycheck. Motive needs an edible paycheck.”

Her first diving dog, Hoodlum, was the 2015 NADD Senior Lapdog National Champion, inspiring many Boston Terriers and other “littles” to follow his example. Hoodlum’s success drew Zimmerly-Offinga’s friend from Canada, Mary Young, into dock diving. She has elite jumpers and announces at events.

Young’s dog, Swindle -- a female Belgian Malinois -- is an elite jumper who jumps far and high.  Swindle is “the best counter surfer around, and likes to sleep under the blankets at night curled in between her humans. She loves everything she does and gives 100% every time,” Young says.

Motive and Swindle went to Nationals last year, where almost 800 dogs competed. “I think there were about 20 dogs from the Pacific Northwest,” Zimmerly-Offinga enthused. The Pacific Northwest offers other diving event locales, including a mobile dock, but the indoor venue is a favorite of some dogs who -- like Motive – hate cold water.  “We call her Sensitive Sally because she doesn’t like to jump into cold water. She likes to jump at PAWS, because the water is warm.”

Zimmerly-Offinga is also training Frantic, a puppy Young gifted her. “Frantic is a Boston Terrier/Whippet/Staffy mix, all legs. He’s very cute, After I lost Hoodlum to GI lymphoma, I said I didn’t need another dog. At diving events, Mary kept saying I did, since Motive doesn’t like cold water. She ended up making a four-hour drive for a puppy I said I didn’t want, and she brought Frantic back.”

That’s what friends are for.

Diving All In

Competing with Quiver, the AKC National Champion Doberman, Teresa Ross of Vancouver, WA was amazed how quickly her dogs mastered diving. “We just started. Neither dog was swimming this summer; they were babies,” Ross explained. “and in August, Avatar was in her first competition.”

Dee Morasco of Amboy, WA was at the competition with her veteran Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Rex, who has been to Nationals in Florida three times. Morasco also brought along a puppy who was adjusting to the excitement. “I’ve been doing dock diving since 2003,” Morasco explained. “It’s a good family sport. Kids as young as 7 can be up there, because two people can be on the dock.”

It’s hard to just get a little bit into the sport. Mary Young confesses, “Oh yes I’m the addicted one. I have three dogs that compete: Swindle and Scandal, my two Belgian Malinois; and Quiz, an Australian Cattle Dog. They are all amazing!”

Immersed in dog sports for over 25 years, including flyball, agility, barn hunt, lure coursing, nose work, urban mushing, obedience, Superdogs and dock diving, Young finds “dock diving seems to be a much more family-friendly event and while people are competitive and want their dogs to do the best they can, the joy of watching all the different dogs and people on the dock is what it’s really all about.”  

Young still competes in agility and flyball, and teaches flyball classes at home in British Columbia, “But the dock diving community is powerful and much more welcoming for all newcomers of all the different size dogs/breeds/mixes – it just doesn’t matter.” 

A tiny jumper’s personal best may be nine feet where the big jumpers sail out 32 feet or farther, but “the human-dog team is what keeps people coming back,” Young asserts. “I live in BC Canada and drive to Oregon for all their events. What I love most about diving is the camaraderie amongst competitors encouraging and helping with each other. We are competitors, but most are friends first,” she said with a smile.

Maybe the sport is wildly popular because, at its heart, it’s all about fun – for people and dogs. “The dogs smile,” Zimmerly-Offinga laughed, “They really do. It’s such fun to see them with smiles on their faces when they’re jumping off the dock!”

Interested in seeing if your pup has a future in the sport? Kunkle offers introductions and assessments at PAWS. A first-time assessment is $65. “After that, dock diving lessons are $45. And on Saturdays from 2-5 there is open dock diving practice, at $25 per dog, no appointment required.” 503-640-4007

Diving events require registering with NADD – North American Diving Dogs - $35 for the life of the dog. Each competition has entry fees.

For information on registering your dog with NADD and finding an event, go to

Photo credit:  Amaya Frutkoff

Photo credit: Amaya Frutkoff

Photo credit: Landon Treanor

Photo credit: Landon Treanor

Ask An Animal Lawyer: How can I get active for animals and become an advocate in my own city?

Ask an Animal Lawyer

By Elizabeth Holtz, Animal Legal Defense Fund

I’m thrilled to answer your question, thank you for asking. While most of us deeply love our companion animals, millions of animals still suffer in the United States. From puppy mills to factory farms to egregious acts of cruelty against animals that go unpunished, we have so much work to do.  

A good first step is to connect with local groups in your area that are already working on animal issues. It’s as easy as going to Facebook and searching for “animal” plus your state. You’ll likely find either a state chapter of a national organization or local groups working on a wide variety of issues. Sign up to join their email lists, and you’ll be alerted when legislators are considering animal protection bills. You can also join the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s action alert list at

When asked, take action! Send an email, or even better, call your city, state, and federal legislators and urge them to protect animals by supporting positive (or opposing negative) bills. Other ways you can get involved are by attending protests (outside of a pet store that sells puppies or a roadside zoo, for example), volunteering at animal shelter, or fostering.

Want to take your advocacy to the next step? Work with your city or county legislator to enact an ordinance to protect animals – many animal control issues are handled at the local level. While lobbying at the state and federal level is important, it can be daunting for a single person. That’s often not the case in your hometown! I’ve met many people who single-handedly worked with their city council or county commission to pass an ordinance (the term for local laws).  Legislators at this level are usually much easier to contact. Especially in smaller to medium sized cities, you can simply pick up the phone or send an email and schedule a meeting for as early as next week. All you need is determination and background knowledge of the issue.

This column is too short to discuss all the laws that you might champion, but retail pet sale bans and protections for animals in cold weather are a few ideas to get you started.  Retail pet sale bans prohibit pet stores from selling puppies, kittens, and sometimes other animals, that come from breeders. Virtually all puppies sold at pet stores come from puppy mills, large-scale breeding operations where profit is more important than the animals. A retail pet sale ban requires pet stores to only offer dogs and cats from rescue groups or animal shelters – animals in desperate need of homes. Retail pet sale bans have taken off in the last decade with hundreds of cities and counties enacting them. As a result, California and Maryland recently became the first two states to pass similar laws at the state level. This is a great example of how change starts locally. These state laws likely wouldn’t be possible if smaller communities hadn’t taken the first step.

Protecting animals in cold weather isn’t a matter of comfort, it can be life and death. Dogs and other companion animals aren’t equipped to survive in low temperatures. They can quickly get frostbite and even freeze to death. Ordinances that require people to bring companion animals indoors when the temperature drops below a certain level (or in weather emergencies) are critical. Every year we receive reports of dogs freezing to death. In some cases, neighbors had complained or reported that a dog was left outdoors in extreme temperatures, but animal control was either powerless to act (or declined to). Clear ordinances – animals must be brought in if it drops below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, for example – are easier to enforce and thus more effective.

I hope these ideas help you get started in your mission to get active for animals. There are so many other areas you can get involved in at the local level – anti-tethering ordinances, bans on circuses with wild animals, ordinances protecting pit bull terriers – these two suggestions are just a start. Good luck!

As Campaigns Manager for Animal Legal Defense Fund, Elizabeth Holtz is grateful that her work allows her to educate people and empower them to speak out on behalf of animals. She earned her undergraduate degree at Pomona College in 2007 and her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 2011. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area with her husband Teddy, two rescue Chihuahuas (Alvin and the Colonel), and four rescue cats: Ripley, Prometheus, Jabba the Catt, and Pinguino.

As Campaigns Manager for Animal Legal Defense Fund, Elizabeth Holtz is grateful that her work allows her to educate people and empower them to speak out on behalf of animals. She earned her undergraduate degree at Pomona College in 2007 and her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 2011. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area with her husband Teddy, two rescue Chihuahuas (Alvin and the Colonel), and four rescue cats: Ripley, Prometheus, Jabba the Catt, and Pinguino.