The legendary Betty White is no longer with us, but her memory has inspired people across America to honor her on Jan. 17 — what would have been her 100th birthday — by donating money to help animals.
White was a well-known animal rights activist was quoted multiple times saying she liked animals more than people. For local animal rescues, any donation is helpful. The fundraiser encourages people to send $5 to a local animal rescue in honor of White on Jan. 17. Rescues are nonprofits that mostly work with volunteers to help save animals who are desperately in need of a loving home.
The mission of an animal rescue is to find pets that are hard to adopt or are in need of care, and provide them with training, medical necessities and a temporary foster family. This process hopefully transforms the animals into a pet that can be adopted into a permanent family.
A new animal rescue in the county is Josie’s Misfit Ranch, which won’t start taking in animals until March at the earliest. Founder, Marla Pugh, said she was inspired to start the rescue because her dog, Josie, was rescued just hours before she was to be put down.
“She’s (Josie) been kinda my rock, so to speak,” Pugh said. “Knowing that she was so close to not being in my life, I wanted to help other animals.”
The ranch focuses mainly on dogs but will accept any kind of pet when they officially open in a few months. Pugh said they intend to focus on animals who are hard to take care of whether they misbehave or have a disability that makes them difficult.
Pugh said any donations will be used to help build the ranch and provide future animals with the care needed to take care of them. This is the first fundraiser Josie’s Misfit Ranch is hosting and is appreciative of any help they receive.
Most animals that go through the rescue program do not spend a lot of time at the program itself. The goal of the rescue is to provide what an animal needs in terms or medical procedures such as spay and neutering, then provide the animal with a foster family that can take care of it, teaching it how to behave until it is ready to be adopted by a permanent family.
The Kittitas County Friends of Animals rescue is one of these organizations that focuses on getting animals to a foster family. In fact, the organization doesn’t even have a shelter to temporarily take care of animals they look after.
“There’s always a struggle to find donations,” Friends of Animals President Andrea Wing said. “We have a lot of supporters but there could always be more funds so that we can reach further or do more. We could always do more. There is a never ending supply of animals that need assistance.”
To add to the issues facing animal rescues, the Ellensburg Animal Shelter is currently short staffed, and is limiting the number of animals it can take care of. Since December, two of the three full time staff at the shelter left, leaving one person to care for all seven dogs, 11 cats and a rabbit.
The shelter is a section of the Ellensburg Police Department, and although it is short staffed and limiting the acceptance of animals, there is still a lot of space in case of emergencies.
There have been rumors over the weekend on social media that the animals in the shelter were going to be euthanized and the shelter closed down. EPD Captain Dan Hansberry wants to be clear that this is simply not true.
The shelter is encouraging people to not randomly surrender their pets, because they won’t be able to take care of them. Any new animals introduced to the shelter are only accepted if they have nowhere else to go or are in desperate need of care.
The shelter is looking to replace the missing employees, and interviews for the positions should begin sometime in the next few days.
The Saddle Mountain Rescue focuses on dogs, specifically older dogs who are close to being put down, and takes senior dogs from the shelter. The rescue is co-owned by husband and wife Christine and Jeff McCroskey, and has been open for over 20 years.
“I have a little place in my heart for old dogs and old people,” Christine McCroskey said. “We just feel that a failing in our society is taking care of old people and animals, that they can just be disposed of because they got old.”
However, Saddle Mountain is not a shelter, and can’t hold all the dogs in the county. Like other shelters, they work to find the dogs a foster home. They want to make sure the dogs are housebroken and good companion animals before finding them a “forever home.”
All animal rescues are looking for forever homes, foster homes, and donations to keep the nonprofits running and helping animals in need. To volunteer as a foster family for these animals, people can contact the Kittitas Friends of Animals at firstname.lastname@example.org, Josie’s Misfit Ranch at email@example.com and Saddle Mountain at 509-899-2790. Donations can be made at the Saddle Mountain and Friends of Animals websites, and to Josie’s Misfit Ranch at their GoFundMe account at https://gofund.me/c55ad79e.