Imagine an area the size of Connecticut with no humane societies and where 95% of animals have never had a vaccination or been spayed or neutered. It sounds like the rural South or another country where animals are not valued, but that is not the case—it’s the Okanogan area in Washington State.
Tom Short with Okan Dogs is one of the few trying to help the homeless pets in this area. In three years, he has helped over 3000 dogs, about 2/3 of which are puppies. He is the one who gets the call when dogs are sick, injured or threatened with harm because they are a nuisance.
Okan Dogs sees a mix of breeds with about 10% bully mixes and the rest largely heelers, cattle dogs, and dingo mixes. The bully breeds are the hardest to place and where Tom sees the biggest need. Working with a local benefactor, Okan Dogs has started Danny’s Fund where he can get these bully breeds spayed and neutered for free.
Okan Dogs will also work with individuals to get moms spayed after a litter through the Mom’s Last Litter Program. However, all this work must be done through local veterinarians as there are no low cost spay/neuter clinics in the entire area.
A partnering group, Okan Snip has been working to get a clinic in the area and offering some help to low income residents. But, the need is great. Tom says that occasionally a spay/neuter clinic sets up on tribal land and there is a willingness to get those services. However, these are just not enough to make a difference in the numbers of dogs and cats in the area.
Even with taking in almost 700 animals last year, Tom helps them all find homes. He has been lucky in the past to work with rescue partners in Western Washington and Northern Oregon. Lately, his rescue partners have been dropping out. However, the need for help continues to grow.
Pawsitive Alliance recognizes the need to help the animals across Washington state and wants to help Tom reconnect with rescue groups and shelters that would be willing to accept transferred animals. Tom is willing and able to make the trip across the pass in his AWD van to meet rescue groups in North Bend, even during the winter months. Although he can’t guarantee what breed of dogs he can bring or whether he can bring puppies, Tom is willing to make the commitment to make sure “his” dogs find great homes.
Sometimes it takes an army and only by working together will we be able to truly make a difference for all dogs and cats in Washington State. If your group is interested in working with Tom, please let Pawsitive Alliance know (email us at firstname.lastname@example.org), as we would love to help connect you.