Sara Penhallegon has devoted so much of her life to rescuing abused and infirmed animals, the garden section at Lowe’s should stock lawn statues in her likeness.
Her success stories came from the most heartbreaking beginnings: a near-death sheep seized in an animal hoarding raid, a one-eyed “bait dog” rescued from a dogfighting ring, a 6-inch reptile bought at a pet store who neglected to mention it would grow into a 6-foot dragon – Cases even the shelters won’t take.
These were the lucky ones who found their way to Sara’s Center Valley Animal Rescue, (CVAR) a nonprofit adoption shelter in Quilcene, Washington.
But this isn’t a story about the unthinkable cruelty of the human race – it’s about the inexhaustible generosity of the human heart.
Every day, 2 or 3 out of 30 volunteers visit the ranch, armed with mops, brooms, and armloads of attention to lavish on their “kids” with wings, claws, horns, beaks, scales, feathers and hooves.
A volunteer with kitties in the FIV (feline AIDS) room
“Donations are essential ..but nothing beats the deep satisfaction of hands-on, face-to-furry-face contact..” -A CVAR volunteer
Llamas and Emus who were sick or starving now graze in rolling pastures. Cats who were on death row now play together in large, cheerful indoor/outdoor toy-filled rooms – assigned according to whether they’re seniors, FIV positive, incontinent, or just your plain, garden variety kitties.
Sara takes in all domestic species: rabbits, chickens, turtles, pigeons, reptiles, you name it. Some young, healthy animals, like Barney the goat, are ready for adoption. Others need homes with extra love – like Taz, a diabetic kitty. But many, like Alexandria, a 20-year old iguana with a chronic bone disease, will never leave.
The reptile room is kept at a tropical 80ª
As a veterinary technician at Chimacum Valley Veterinary Hospital, Sara’s able to provide medical support to special needs animals . The more severe cases get help from veterinarians like Dr. Jan Richard, a large animal vet, and Dr. Tony Rogstad, who runs the Chimacum hospital.
Both doctors are well known for their humanitarian efforts, but they went above and beyond with Willy – a 2-year old gelding who had been brought in along with 16 other horses during a large scale rescue operation. Willy was near death with a gaping ruptured hernia. With no time to spare, Dr. Tony and Dr. Jan tag-teamed each other through four hours of emergency surgery, using the center’s cement floor for an operating table – while Sara’s parents rushed in medical supplies from Pilchuck. (continued on Page 2)