At Sunny Sky’s Animal Rescue, the team of mostly volunteers is doing whatever it takes to find the 700 animals it rescues each year their forever homes.
The animal rescue is located inside the East Main Animal Hospital, which takes in animals from 12 to 50 high kill animal shelters throughout Washington and California.
Under the helm of veterinarian Illina Berton, the organization has rescued animals for years, but it wasn’t until 2010 when the facility became an official nonprofit.
“She really takes in anything she can get,” volunteer Stefanie Dawson said. “Surrenders (owners putting their pets up for adoptions), strays, puppies and animals from high kill shelters.”
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Even when wildlife is turned in, Berton takes the critters to the right organizations to be rescued. In addition to finding the right home for lost wildlife, volunteers and staff work with dogs and cats with behavior problems until the problem is resolved and the animal can be placed up for adoption. Volunteers say the behavior problems typically stem from a lack of trust.
“They slowly begin to trust us,” Dawson said. “It’s sometimes a slow process, but it’s really rewarding.”
On top of working with the animals to begin to trust again, Dawson says the most rewarding part of volunteering is seeing the animals go to happy and healthy forever homes.
For the volunteers of the organization, the dogs and cats of the shelter become their family. For Dawson and another volunteer, Trudy Hintz, they’ve even taken rescues home with them for a permanent adoption, or for foster care for animals unfit for the shelter.
Dawson currently owns four rescues, and Hintz is currently fostering a dog with a skin condition, with the goal to nurse it back to health before it can return to the shelter.
“We just love these animals, and we are doing what we can to make it work,” Hintz said. “We’re here for the animals.”
Housed in an aging building, and as a nonprofit with limited access to resources, Sunny Sky’s is made up of a team of 50 volunteers, four kennel staffers, four vet staffers and Berton, and are always in need of donations and volunteers. The animals are fed a diet of donated pet food, and are let out six times per day, depending on staffing.
“We basically run on volunteers and donations,” Dawson said. “Since we run on almost just volunteers, we are in need of more volunteers, donations of pet food or toys, and of course, foster families willing to take dogs or cats in that can’t be in the shelter.”
With the goal of finding an animal’s forever home, Sunny Sky’s has a fairly strict policy in order to ensure their animals are going to the best homes possible. Potential pet owners are required to fill out an application, provide proof of residency, and either proof of home ownership or permission from a landlord.
Animals up for adoption can be viewed from 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
The dog adoption fee is $239 for dogs older than six months or $360 for dogs younger than six months. Cats and kittens are $109. All adoption fees include spaying or neutering, microchipping, current vaccinations and preventative flea treatment.
For more information on Sunny Sky’s Animal Shelter, visit sunnyskysshelter.org.