A menagerie of creatures got the best present of their lives over the holidays. Rescued from a hoarding situation in Clallam County, 85 animals — ranging from a feral …
A menagerie of creatures got the best present of their lives over the holidays. Rescued from a hoarding situation in Clallam County, 85 animals — ranging from a feral miniature donkey to parrots to dogs — experienced their own Christmas miracle.
Sarah Penhallegon, founder of Center Valley Animal Rescue in Quilcene, filled in the rest of the story Monday.
“We were contacted by Clallam County Animal Control,” she said, to respond to an animal hoarding situation discovered right before Christmas.
The owner, who was currently hospitalized, was known to the animal rescue nonprofit.
“We’ve worked with her in the past to get dogs spayed and neutered,” Penhallegon said.
But when rescuers arrived at the farm, the scene was tragic.
“As of yesterday, we have pulled 85 animals out of filth,” she said Monday, “many emaciated and starving.”
An entire shed full of 50 birds unknown to animal control was discovered by rescuers while on the site. Without water and food, the freezing temperatures were the last straw for the struggling animals. One chicken, with a body score of 1 of 9, didn’t survive the ride to the rescue.
Everyone else is doing well, however. Local animal shelters have been called to help house the unexpected arrival of dozens of new animals.
“We’ve got at least temporary holding quarantine spots,” Penhallegon said.
Family members of the animals’ owner relinquished the animals to the rescue, Penhallegon said. They were able to retrieve some turtles and parrots from inside the woman’s house before they succumbed to the freezing temperatures.
Penhallegon and crew went out on the day before Christmas Eve to make the first sweep of the property. With the roads dangerously slick after the Christmas snowfall, a second trip had to be delayed until it was safe to return.
“The thought, ‘We can’t leave these animals out here,’” reverberated through Penhallegon’s mind.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about them,” she said.
Finally, she’d had enough waiting. Her husband Robert Heck and neighbor Keegan Butterfield geared up for a return.
“We got one truck stuck. It took chains and everything” to get it out, she said.
“Nothing like driving a whole bunch of animals around in a snowstorm.”
But the same snow that hindered travel worked in the rescuers’ favor in unexpected ways. It hindered the fowl, which made up the bulk of the animals, from fleeing, enabling the small crew to net, hand-catch, and herd birds into crates for transport.
Entering the owner’s house, several chickens were found in a cage.
There were no doors on the house, Penhallegon said, as well as no heat and holes in the ceiling.
After the animals were safely back to the rescue, they underwent health exams. Penhallegon was up until 10:30 p.m. Sunday with her headlamp on, examining poultry.
“They’re so full of parasites,” she said.
“They can’t leave until we get rid of all their parasites and get healthy,” she explained.
For some animals, that may mean a few weeks. But many animals have months of rehabilitation ahead of them.
With the unexpected addition of so many animals, the rescue could use a little extra help.
“We always need more volunteers,” Penhallegon said.
Donations of Scratch and Peck brand poultry feed, alfalfa hay, and alfalfa/grass hay mix would be welcomed, too, she added. Financial donations can be made directly at the Center Valley Animal Rescue’s website at centervalleyanimalrescue.org/donate/.