It has been almost a year since Pet Helpers was founded, and we have been busy! We have thus far helped 27 pets get essential veterinary care that they would not otherwise have had, including emergency surgeries, dental surgeries, care for illnesses and injuries, vaccinations, spaying/neutering, and more. We have provided transportation to and from appointments when clients had no other way to get there.
Whether it is a benign situation, a serious emergency, or anything in between, our many services have been saving pets and their people from unnecessary suffering and anxiety. It is almost impossible to imagine a more fulfilling and effective way to channel our effort for the betterment of our community!
We can hear the concern in our clients’ voices when they first call us, often mixed with a resignation borne of the past dashed hopes that have defined their lives. They are hoping against hope that someone could really be willing to help them. What a glorious feeling to be able to say, “Yes, we can help you!”
Pandemic and Other Challenges
Meanwhile, veterinarians throughout Jefferson and Kitsap County and beyond have been so short-handed that appointments are booked months out. Three of the low-cost spay/neuter clinics had shut down for several months due to COVID, and two just recently re-opened. Our clients, most of whom who are accustomed to waiting for nearly everything in life, have been amazingly patient. Gradually, all who waited were taken care of, and many have responded with tears of gratitude. And our client base continues to grow.
Port Townsend desperately needs a weekend emergency vet clinic. Did you know that veterinary offices in our local area are closed on Saturdays and Sundays? There is only one – in Silverdale – open on weekends, for emergencies only, and they are booked so solidly that we have been unable to get pets in. When an animal has a life-threatening emergency, they cannot wait. We need an advocate to work with our local veterinarians to consider developing a rotating weekend on-call schedule. Can you volunteer to help in this endeavor? Please call or email the Pet Helpers Coordinator – see contact information at the end of this newsletter.
Our volunteers Bill, Marla, Lois and Jan periodically visit the homeless communities – Port Townsend’s new Mill Road encampment and the Tiny House villages – to meet the people and pets living there, and offer our services when needed. We have made some “friends for life” and sincerely enjoy getting to know these neighbors.
Pet Helpers volunteer Lois and her quilting group have been hand-making attractive dog scarves, which she will be offering by donation at a table near the Farmer’s Market in the spring. You will find her and some of our other volunteers there on Saturdays when the weather is good. Look for us in the grassy area in front of the Community Center, where our volunteers offer to dog-sit for folks who wish to go into the market area.
Lois has also created a pet supply donation bin that will be at various businesses on a rotating schedule. Currently it is at the Uptown Pub. The bin is for collecting new and used leashes, collars, dog blankets and coats, pet beds, toys, and so on. Some will be given to the pets of homeless people in our community as needed, and some will raise funds at our upcoming First Annual Pet Stuff Yard Sale in the spring.
Meanwhile, our volunteer Leslie is keeping up with postering and with monitoring our donation cans at Safeway and other retail locations. Keep your eyes open for the Pet Helpers donation cans at stores around town!
Our holiday campaign brought in several donations from generous patrons, for which we are immensely grateful. We also received a lovely grant from a charitable organization, which has relieved some of our stress because it will help pay for several upcoming spays/neuters/vaccinations, dental surgeries, and sick-animal appointments. We cannot thank our donors enough for caring about the pets who need our help!
So Many Successes!
In our last newsletter (November) we told you the stories of some of the pets we’ve helped. Since then, of course there have been many more.
Among them, we received a call from a lady whose rabbit needs urgent dental work and has lost half its body weight because it cannot eat. Rabbits are considered “exotic” by veterinarians, and there are none in the Peninsula area who will treat them. We found one in Bellevue that agreed to work with us. The bunny’s lady is saving up to pay for the ferry fare and gasoline to get there and back. We are taking care of the rest.
“Half-Pint”, an elderly Yorkie-Shih-Tsu, is recovering nicely from dental surgery. Isn’t that a sweet face? Half-pint says “Thank you” for helping me become pain free for the first time in years.
Newsletter – November 2021
We began in June of 2021 in response to the overwhelming need in our community. Since all pets deserve good veterinary care, we are determined to provide it. And we hit the ground running! To date, we have paid for essential dental surgeries, emergency assistance for injured pets, vaccinations, microchips, and more, for animals who would not otherwise have received this care.
We’ve developed relationships with several veterinary offices and with two local shelters that usually sponsor clinics. Our posters around town have been noticed, we’ve had a news article in the Port Townsend Leader, and an interview on KPTZ radio.
Meanwhile, due to the pandemic we had to wait several months to fulfill spay/neuter/vaccination requests. Finally, all of them were done. Just as we breathed a sigh of relief, more requests for dental surgeries, treatment by an avian specialist for a parrot’s illness, the need for emergency services for a dog attacked by a coyote, emergency care for a dog with paralysis and another with tumors all came up in just one month. Our financial capabilities have been stretched to care for them all.
Recently we received a call about Louie, who had been attacked by a coyote, and who needed emergency care ASAP. Of course we could not turn this injured pup away! Finding a veterinarian on call took three intense days (due to the current shortage of vets), and by the time Louie was seen, he was close to death. The vet was able to give him the surgery and antibiotics he needed, and Louie is making a miraculous recovery. His person called back to thank us for saving his life – and we are so grateful that we were able to make that happen! We’ve set up a GoFundMe campaign to pay for the huge emergency surgery bill of $3,370. To donate, please go to https://gofund.me/bfdb16cf
ZEUS – A SUCCESS STORY
Zeus’ person says, “Zeus for years needed to have his teeth fixed.. .there was nothing I could do about it due to the cost. When Pet Helpers told me they could help my boy, I was in tears. I owe all to Pet Helpers and their volunteers and to everyone who donated… I love you all with my whole being… there’s no way I could even pay any of you back for what you gave me.”
We also provided vaccinations for his other dog, Harley. Brian is pictured here with Zeus, on the right, and Harley on the left.
We are grateful for our wonderful volunteers! Here are some of their stories.
BILL TESTERMAN: “I am a retired veterinarian, recently moved to Port Townsend. I spent most of my working career in Western Washington, most recently in Anacortes. My wife, daughters and I served in the Peace Corps in Peru and Bolivia. There I worked in a veterinary college taking students out in the country to treat the animals where there was otherwise no veterinary care.”
LESLIE SAYLOR: “Recently calling Port Townsend home again, I’m more than glad to be a part of a non- profit with animals who benefit. This is my best friend Persia, who recently passed away.”
Lois made the table cover in this photo – Lois, Marla and Terri have been spending some of their Saturdays near the Farmer’s Market, where they offer dog-sitting for those going to the market area where dogs aren’t allowed. Donations collected from this service have been very helpful!
TERRI TEAS: Terri got us started with the above project, and has been maintaining our collection cans at local businesses. She is delightfully enthusiastic and outgoing – a real asset!
MARLA TANGEN: “I’ve been in Port Townsend for 7 years. My husband and I owned and operated a large cat boarding facility in Shoreline. Animals have always played a huge part in our lives, and I love the opportunity to help.”
CINDY OKYNCZK: “I am retired and work in Veteran’s Connect with OlyCap.” Picture here: Cindy with her dog Enya.
LAURIE RILEY: “I am grateful that my career in managing nonprofits and businesses, a lifetime of pet ownership, and experience as a veterinary assistant have given me the skills to coordinate services for Pet Helpers.”
If you love animals, please consider volunteering with Pet Helpers! We need people who can help in the following areas:
- Visiting encampments and tiny house communities (with a team partner) and talking to people, getting to know the pets who need veterinary care. You will be trained for this activity.
- Providing transportation to and from veterinary appointments.
- Interact with the public at events, providing information, passing out our brochures, and soliciting donations.
- Fundraising activities and projects.
- Creative solutions for emerging needs
- Office skills, graphic design
- Whatever your skills, if you love pets, your help is needed!
PET HELPERS IS FUNDED COMPLETELY BY DONATIONS from generous people like you. Please make your check payable to QUUF with “Pet Helpers” in the memo line, and send it to Pet Helpers c/o Laurie Riley, PO Box 1748, Port Townsend WA 98368
Where exactly do your donations go? You may request a financial statement showing funds received, expenses paid, and estimated upcoming expenses for pets on our waiting list. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org . Funds donated to Pet Helpers pay for veterinary care and related fees for the pets of the homeless people in the Port Townsend area. We print brochures and posters that inform the community of our work, and have minimal office expenses such as paper. Most other costs including gasoline are donated by our volunteers.
We are an all- volunteer organization and none of our workers or administrative people are paid.