Newsletter Fall-Winter 2007

In This Issue

Happy Birthday, Band of Brothers!

Dodge - Jersey/Guernsey cross. The most friendly and affectionate, with huge, beautiful, black-rimmed eyes. Named for dodging the bullet at the auction.

Martini - Holstein and unknown beef breed cross. Named for the replica of a martini glass on his left rear flank. Very affectionate and loves to be scratched under his chin.

Sparky - Holstein breed. The largest, strongest, hungriest, and most energetic of the three. Extremely vocal at feeding time.

Dodge, Sparky, and Martini, our three male dairy calves, celebrated their first birthday on September 28, 2007. One year ago, all three were born at different dairies and trucked to a livestock auction when they were one day old. Unwanted, sick, underweight, and unwilling to stand, they were to be shot at the end of the auction. The renderer had been called to pick up their remains. We could only try to save three. We picked them up, carried them to our van, and drove them home. Our big animal vet said two had a 50/50 chance of making it, and the small, dark-colored one, no bigger than a newborn fawn, had no chance at all. All three had diarrhea and had been exposed to strains of E. coli, salmonella, and coccidiosis from such a disease-infested environment.

They were placed in a small shed on a bed of straw under heat lamps with freezing temperatures outside. Each one received twelve painful shots each day for two weeks. The small dark calf began to lose patches of his coat with bare skin exposed. All we could do was lay with them, stroke their backs, talk to them in a soft voice, and listen to their painful sighs. It was necessary to force them to drink milk replacer to keep them alive. One could only hope and pray every day and night that their small, compromised bodies and a deep will to survive would somehow pull them through. Slowly the diarrhea subsided, their appetites increased, and they started to put on weight.

In late spring after being cooped up in a shed, they were let loose in the big pasture. What a joy to see the wonder in their eyes as they ran through the meadows, climbed hills, and explored stands of willows and firs. Best of all was meeting their big brother, Benjamin, a full-grown black and white Holstein. "Benny" had been rescued from a Skagit Valley dairy many years before.

All three calves have individual identities but all are gentle, affectionate, and - like any dog or cat - love to be petted. All are vocal as they listen and respond to human voices. In their innocence, they trust, and know that someone cares and they belong.

They are truly contented cows but, sadly, not one dairy cow in any mega-dairy across the U.S. will experience in a lifetime what Dodge, Martini, and Sparky experience in one day.

Probably only a handful of cows like them ever have a chance to live out their natural lives of 20 to 25 years. The other day-old calves at the auction with Dodge, Sparky, and Martini who managed to survive the brutality and misery will be slaughtered at 30 months of age. Most U.S. trading partners will not accept any cattle older than this due to the increased risk of BSD.

You can read more about the actual rescue on our website. See Meet the Animals: Band of Brothers

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Who's New

A Sad Story from East of the Mountains

In the spring of this year, we received a frantic call from a man making his way back from eastern Washington with a very young Great Pyrenees dog with him that he had just rescued. He was charged with emotion having done the admirable thing of picking up the dog and securing it in his van and was now faced with the reality of what he would do with the starved, dehydrated, smelly, unruly animal he had found in the woods, tethered to a tree with no identification. The dog was expectedly nervous, had obviously never been loved or cared for by anyone, and definitely had no manners nor house-training. He also appeared to be suffering from a severe ear infection. It was after dark when he called and we knew the trip to Sequim by ferry would not be feasible that night. We also require that all animals be spayed or neutered before we accept them. We asked the Good Samaritan if he could find a veterinarian who could neuter the pup before we took him and if he could at least keep him overnight. We called our good friends at Scrub-A-Pup and asked if they would be willing to be the intermediary for this transfer and also give the pup a groom and a bath. As usual, they were eager to help, and met the fellow at their shop in Edmonds. They all fell in love with this baby who was so dirty and unloved, yet so trusting. They did their magic with his fur, but every bone in his little body showed. A healthy Pyr should weigh about 110-150lbs and this guy weighed barely 70. They kept him at their shop in daycare for a few days and showered him with love and attention and took him to a veterinarian to care for his ear. They brought him up to us on a Sunday and we introduced him to the other dogs. The meeting went well, and he was soon part of the pack. He was even taken under the wing of Maxwell, the alpha dog, which is usually not the case. Max sniffed out his ear problem and spent lots of time licking it to make it better.

Our First Saint Bernard

Harley was recently acquired by Precious Life Animal Sanctuary from a woman in Oregon who had kept the two year-old, 180lb Saint Bernard in a 10x12 pen with no shelter for his entire life. He didn't even have a basic dog dish, but was fed on the ground. He escaped from the pen once, and chased and downed a neighbor's goat. He was pulled off and it could not be determined if he would have killed it. This incident sealed his fate. Two purebred Saint Bernard rescue organizations in Oregon wouldn't accept him, and the Southwest Humane Society had no kennel big enough to house him. Several months passed with Harley trapped in his pen, and the Humane Society couldn't place him. Some felt the best decision would be to euthanize him rather than subject him to more neglect.

We were contacted as a last resort and fell in love with his picture. We couldn't stand to see this beautiful animal confined to a life of misery and neglect. We drove to pick him up, and even though his living conditions were deplorable, he was heartbroken to leave the only life he had ever known. We adopted him and he has quickly adapted to life with six Great Pyrenees companions and assorted farm animals, rabbits, and feral cats. However, Harley took a mis-step on the grass shortly after he arrived and tore his cruciate ligament. He had a very expensive TPLO surgery and is recovering nicely. Your donations help us to continue to care for our animals in this manner.

Unwanted 30 Year-Old Olympic National Park Mule
Slight Limp

In early September of this year, Precious Life Animal Sanctuary received a phone call from an employee at Olympic National Park who is in charge of their Pack Mule Program. As Olympic National Park and other national parks can't use mechanized equipment to maintain roads, trails, fallen trees, etc., they strictly use pack mules that are ridden and carry supplies. The employee went on to say, "We work them pretty hard" for thirty years. After that they wear out and we make an effort to find a sanctuary where they can live out the last ten years of their life. None of the sanctuaries they called in Washington would take the three mules ready for retirement. Sadly, in some instances they have been given to a private party where they are not retired for their remaining years.

Precious Life Animal Sanctuary agreed to take Andrew, a thirty year-old in the most need due to his nervousness and a slight limp. He had worked at the park for 23 years as a pack mule. Over this period of time, the park employee became attached to "Drewsey" and wanted the best for him. On a fog-laden, rainy day in October, he was brought to the sanctuary and stepped out of the trailer to experience Mule Heaven on Earth. Andrew will never again have anything man-made on his back, and is totally free from any human wants or needs. For the first time in his life, he is free to roam independently with plenty to eat. He will have proper shelter this winter and receive lots of affection. His only challenge is to fit in with our two rescued wild mustangs. Even though they are only half his size, they totally dominate him. The adjustment will take some time for this gentle giant.

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Animal Quiz
(All Questions Relate to One Species)

  1. What animal do we fancy as a pet that is beautiful, affectionate, and playful, yet slaughter 8.5 million a year in the U.S. for meat?
  2. What animal is the third most-popular animal that is allowed to roam freely in our homes?
  3. What animal is mostly forced to live alone in a cage, even though they thrive on social contact with their own kind?
  4. What is one of the most beloved stuffed animals for our children, and a popular animal featured in children's stories?
  5. What animal is mass bred in deplorable factory farm conditions, cramped in cages, and barely able to move?
  6. What animal is most used in painful experiments for medical research?
  7. What animal has no uniform method of slaughter by commercial enterprises with the most common ways being stunning, neck breaking, pipe bashing, throat slitting, or by a .22 rifle?
  8. What animal's DNA was spliced with a Pacific Northwest jellyfish to glow green for a conceptual art piece?
  9. Which animal received as pets are mostly abandoned and end up being euthanized at animal shelters?
  10. What animal has no national animal organization to stand up and fight to improve conditions for them, although the species serves as a "storybook hero, cultural icon, and beloved pet"?

"A universe is, indeed, to be pitied whose dominating inhabitants are so unconscious and so ethically embryonic that they make life a commodity, mercy a disease, and systematic massacre a pastime and a profession."
Professor J. Howard Moore, Better World Philosophy

Answer to questions 1-10 in Animal Quiz: Rabbits

(Facts and figures taken from Stories Rabbits Tell by Susan E. Davis and Margo Demello.)

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100 Rabbits that No Sanctuary Wanted

For years, domestic rabbits, especially "Easter Bunnies" have been discarded at Seattle's Lower Woodland Park and several other parks by irresponsible, uncaring pet owners. While some of these rabbits have reproduced and increased their numbers, it comes with many casualties. Dropping off a terrified rabbit with non-native colors and a loss of instinctual defenses against predators which has become totally dependent on humans in a strange environment ensures that most will not survive. Sadly, all the park rabbits still face disease, viral infections, lack of a proper food supply, and critical injuries.

Most of the public is unaware that, while domestic rabbits are physically similar in many respects to our native species, there are many differences that are basic to their survival. America's wild rabbits, of which the cottontail is the most well-known, live alone in rocky outcroppings and desert terrain and some dig shallow holes. On the other hand, our pet rabbits are a European species that live in social groups and dig deep, wide, complex homes. This genetic characteristic is the primary trait which has made them unwelcome guests in our city parks and precipitated the decision by the Seattle Parks Department to remove them.

The Seattle Parks Department understood that a humane course of action had to be undertaken after the public outcry over "gassing" nuisance Canadian gees. They formed a coalition with animal organizations which included the Seattle Animal Shelter, PAWS, and the Pacific Northwest Rabbit Society and an attempt began in early 2006 to trap the rabbits. While numbers of rabbits were removed and sent to a sanctuary, the effort proved unsuccessful as a sufficient number remained to breed.

In the spring of 2006, Mark Pilger and Carrie Brittingham formed Friends of Park Rabbits, and they and their volunteers began an all-out effort to trap every single rabbit. The trapping ended successfully in January, 2007, with the capture of over 100 rabbits. The Seattle Parks Department provided a vacant chapel with a large main floor to house them in Discovery Park. Here they received extensive veterinary care and all were spayed or neutered. A search was immediately undertaken to find a permanent home. Many sanctuaries were contacted, but none wanted them.

Seven months later, with no prospects, Precious Life Animal Sanctuary was contacted and agreed to house them in a temporary enclosure while a permanent enclosure was built on the property. A one-of-a-kind, bunny-proof enclosure on over half an acre donated by PLAS which is totally netted above has been created. Extensive bulldozer and backhoe work was required to clear and erect the perimeter cyclone fencing and bury it deep in concrete. A wide array of individual houses with two floors have been built by volunteers and group housing in a partitioned bunny barn, bunny chalet, and a stone bunny bunker have been provided by PLAS. If for some reason the bunnies want to resurrect their natural instincts, they have permission to dig extensive warrens and nibble on natural grasses. This is indeed a natural environment where these feral rabbits and other abandoned park rabbits can enjoy great freedom and care to live out their lives. The rabbits will be moved to their new home by December 31, 2007. As anyone can imagine, this project has taken an incredible amount of time and labor and has required extensive personal retirement funds from the founders to complete. PLAS greatly appreciates donations for veterinary care and Honor brand rabbit feed, which many feed stores carry.

Everyone connected to this project including the citizens of Seattle should be very proud that a humane solution was found. In communicating with rabbit societies and animal organizations across the United States, we found that no facility of this kind exists. If Seattle Parks, Friends of Park Rabbits, and Precious Life Animal Sanctuary can accomplish building a first-class outdoor facility, hopefully it will influence other major cities facing the same problem across the U.S. to do the same.

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Donations and Feed Supplies Critically Needed!

Due to the many new animals we have acquired and the harsh winter weather that lies ahead, your donations are especially crucial at this time of year. In addition to monetary donations, feed supplies are equally as important. We would greatly appreciate Honor Brand rabbit feed, wet cob, horse feed, whole or rolled oats, bales of orchard hay or alfalfa (average cost $10-$12 per bag/bale), or gift certificates from any Seattle or rural area feed stores.

For a list of specific feed stores, look in the Yellow Pages or visit the How To Help section of our website.

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