It’s a bit simplistic to say that my family moved here because of and for our animals. But in a way, what was good for them was also good for us.
I’d spent many years volunteering and leading animal rescue efforts, spay/neuter programs, and anti-cruelty campaigns; raising funds; planning events to help rescue, provide medical care and shelter and placing orphaned animals.
So when looking far afield for horse property in a clean and friendly community, our search brought us to this verdant place we had visited 30 years ago.
In Sequim, we found that dogs are mostly welcome and cared for, seldom seen on chains or wandering as strays, have access to off-leash dog parks, are seen happily accompanying their humans on trails and are even allowed in most assisted living centers.
Unlike where I came from, there are reasonable ordinances that encourage responsible pet guardianship, yet don’t limit responsible owners to just two animals, as long as they have current rabies vaccinations, are good neighbors and are licensed.
“People of Sequim are very protective of our pets,” says Lisa Hopper, the town’s animal control officer for eight years. “For many seniors, they are like their kids,” she adds.
We are fortunate to have nonprofit rescue organizations and shelters with proactive outreach and adoption events, that are embracing the national no-kill movement and, accordingly, enacting programs and networking to place all adoptables, regardless of breed or age. And, there is a horse rescue organization, a therapeutic horseback riding center and an agency providing animal-assisted therapy.
Why are animals so important to our collective quality of life?
Dogs, cats, rabbits and other small animals play with our kids; teach kindness, patience and responsibility; comfort the sick, injured and elderly; provide selfless companionship and unconditional love. Some with exceptional temperaments are certified to visit schoolchildren and patients in hospitals and nursing homes.
Specially trained, gentle horses teach self-confidence, trust and leadership in addition to providing freedom of movement for youth and veterans with disabilities. Some specially trained dogs even have a sixth sense for detecting seizures, cancer and migraines in their humans.
It’s time to ask ourselves, “What can we do for the animals that make Sequim such a wonderful place to live?”
The animals of Clallam County need our help now as never before. Both the Welfare for Animals Guild (WAG) and the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society are holding capital campaigns as they plan to move to their respective new shelters closer to Sequim in 2015. In this season of giving, let’s show our community’s commitment to improving the quality of life for all of its residents because not all best friends and family members walk on two legs.
Many people are excited to welcome these shelters closer to Sequim, where as many as half of all households have pets and there are more vet clinics and pet-supply boutiques than traffic lights.
In fact, one reason people live so long and retire so well here is many have pets, says Pam Scott, community relations director at Discovery Care Memory Center.
“Therapy dogs and the dogs that live here with their humans brighten everyone’s day,” Scott says. “It’s hard to be upset or depressed when in the company of a gentle, soft, happy dog. It gives all of us another chance to show love and be loved.”
How to help
So let’s welcome WAG and OPHS and the orphaned animals — our orphaned animals — closer to Sequim and help give them comfortable accommodations, safe and spacious play areas, and humane care while they await their forever homes. The sorely needed new OPHS facility also will give the agency’s humans a more pleasant place to work, where ofttimes the work is emotional and thankless. And it will be an inviting, cheerful place for the public to visit, volunteer and adopt.
It’s important to give now, at this most historic opportunity to help animals today and for years to come. Challenge your school, church, Scouting group or business to save all your coins for the animals. Donate the proceeds from your office football pool. Make a donation to honor the memory of a family member, friend or special pet you’ve loved. In lieu of birthday or holiday gifts, encourage friends and family to make donations in your name to one or more of these local 501(c)3 nonprofits dedicated to helping animals.
Merry Christmas, for the love of animals.
Cheryl Smith is a Sequim resident and featured columnist for the Sequim Gazette. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the web:
Native Horsemanship Riding Center, home of Peninsula Therapeutic Riding — www.nativehorserc.weebly.com
Precious Life Animal Sanctuary, Sequim — www.preciouslifeanimalsanctuary.org
Northwest Raptor and Wildlife Center — www.nwraptorcenter.com
Olympic Gentle Paws — (Animals, handlers visit patients, providing reading support for youths), 681-4440
Olympic Peninsula Humane Society — www.ophumanesociety.org
Olympic Peninsula Equine Network (formerly Eyes That Smile Equine Rescue) — www.olypenequinenet.org
Welfare for Animals Guild — www.wagsequimwa.org
Center for Whale Research — www.whaleresearch.com