Category Archives: Blog

Setting the Pace: Sasha’s Second-Chance Story

Dear Friend of Animal Aid,

When we first met Sasha, her body told the story of neglect. Patchy fur and irritated skin from poor diet and probable food allergies long untreated. Sore hips and stiff limbs from a life spent looking through the crossbars of a crate. A frame ten pounds underweight and sensitive to unfamiliar touch. That last part is particularly important, because neglect is a psychological state as much as a physical one, and rescue animals carry those scars just as keenly.

Her body told another story, though, this one of acceptance, of resilience, of hope. We saw it in the way her eyes lit and ears perked when she spotted us; in the expectant tilt of her head and eager sway of her tail; in her inspiring ability, despite past treatment, to find joy in her human companions. Animals are constantly teaching us, even in those moments when we’re focused on the idea that we’re the ones helping them. Sasha had every reason to give up on humans altogether, yet she chose to trust—to nuzzle her sugar face into our hands and let us be her second-chance people. When she said yes, so did we.

Animal Aid was founded by a community called together in the name of animals just like Sasha: the neglected, the abandoned, the abused, the forgotten. It was a community united by a belief in our collective responsibility to be their caregivers, guardians, and friends, choosing to work harder, do more, be better, for them. 50 years later, we’re able to continue carrying forward that commitment each day because of your support. Because you’re as determined as we are to be there for animals in need, we’ll always be ready for our next mission, and many more second chances to come.

So many experiences were new or refreshed for Sasha when she entered into Animal Aid’s guardianship and the home of a loving foster family. The ability to roam free in a house, to play tug-of-war, nap on the couch, or simply wander from room to room with her humans. The opportunity for long walks in the fresh air, taking in the sights and smells of rain-soaked neighborhoods, backyard barbecues, and even the ocean after an exhilarating car ride out to the beach. The chance to stretch her limbs in her own backyard, enjoying the cool grass against her paws and sunshine on her back. With the addition of a prescription diet and some much-needed veterinary care, we’ve witnessed a transformation begin to take place in Sasha: the healing of her skin, the loosening of her gait, the strengthening of her physique.

Emotional healing works at its own pace, of course, and that process is different for every animal. For Sasha, neglect resulted in fewer opportunities for socialization, which in turn has made her sensitive to situations that may be commonplace for many dogs but are much less familiar to her. It’s a fairly small thing to be understanding of, given how understanding she has proven to be, and we’re extremely grateful for the ability to give our adoptables the time and resources they need because we are part of a dedicated community.

Sasha’s story is her own, but unfortunately it’s not unique. The needs of each animal who comes into our care are often difficult to predict, but the fact that they’ll need it is beyond a doubt. Your commitment allows us to serve rescue companions wherever they are in their journey—to not only take those next steps with them, but to allow them to set the pace. It’s what gives us the ability to welcome them with open arms into our rescue, to maintain an open mind as we learn about their needs, to present an open heart as they begin to get to know us, and, one day, to hold open the door that leads into their forever home. Sasha’s still waiting for that last one, but in the meantime we’ll stand by her and teach her and learn from her and love her and let her set her own pace. And when she is ready to say yes, so will we.

On behalf of all of us at Animal Aid, thank you for supporting our rescue and dogs like Sasha.


Paige España
Director of Operations

P.S. Animals who have faced neglect expect very little yet deserve so much. Help us give more rescue cats and dogs the care they’ve been waiting for by making a one-time or monthly contribution to Animal Aid today.

Community Care: The Animal Aid Cares Fund

Dear friend of Animal Aid,

Alfie. Shyla. Jinxie. Odis. Buster. Dolly.
Queenie. Crabapple. Chuck Mantooth.
Luna. Petey. Nutmeg. Felix. Pickles.
Momo. Saddie. Sassafras. Little Boss.
Remie. Betty. Roger. Buddha. Dacotah Marie.

These are the names of just some of the animals that have been a part of our Cares Fund over the past eight years. Created to help pet guardians facing urgent but overwhelming veterinary expenses, the Animal Aid Cares Fund provides financial assistance for emergency medical or behavioral care. To do so, Animal Aid works in collaboration with local veterinary clinics to offer each partner practice the ability to submit at least one grant request per month, at their discretion, to cover costs up to $500.00 per grant. In 2014, we further developed the Cares Fund by
establishing Helping Hands grants, which support animals adopted from our shelter whose health or behavioral conditions make their adoptions more financially challenging to their forever families.

This year, we’re expanding the Cares Fund to include more veterinary partners across Portland so that we can be a resource to pets and pet guardians throughout the city. We’ve also broadened our program to incorporate assistance for behavioral care, because we know that, right beside medical expenses, behavior concerns are one of the leading
reasons for an animal to be surrendered to a shelter. Since 2011, the Cares Fund has provided more than $33,000 in lifesaving grants. But we need your assistance to continue making our assistance possible: Will you help us reach our goal of raising $10,000 for the Animal Aid Cares Fund?

Unlike the cats and dogs in our shelter and foster program, we can tell you very little about most of our Cares Fund recipients beyond their names and what brought them to one of our partner clinics: Dental extractions.
Urinary blockages. Bladder stones. Heart problems. Ear Surgery. Knee surgery. Hematoma surgery. Splenectomy. Growth removals. Foreign body removals. Bites. Broken limbs. The list goes on.

With names like Chuck Mantooth, Sassafras, and Little Boss, it’s no stretch to imagine their personalities. We’ll have to settle for imagining them, too, because the moment when their journeys crossed paths with our rescue was brief. That’s okay, though, because that’s what the Animal Aid Cares Fund is all about: Quietly stepping in to assist those in need, and just as quietly stepping back out, so that those animals and their humans can get back to the work that
matters most—caring for each other.

The need never stops—in fact, every day it seems to grow—and the job of caring for a community takes a community. Can we count on you to care, too? Whether you’re able to give $5 or $500, your contribution to the Animal Aid Cares Fund helps pet guardians like your neighbor, or your friend’s neighbor, or the person you sat by on the bus ride home, or the family you stood next to in line at the grocery store, or perhaps, as we’ve found to be the case, someone you’ll never meet at all.

We don’t know who will need the Cares Fund next or when exactly they will need it, but we know
without a doubt that they will need it. And when that moment comes, we’ll get to learn their name and
their need, and much of the rest will be left to the imagination—to envisioning what the years after that
moment meant for those animals and their families. One thing is certain, however: Because of your
support, because you chose to care, that moment will be life-changing.

On behalf of all of us at Animal Aid, thank you for supporting our rescue, the Cares Fund, and animals in
need throughout our community.

Paige España
Director of Operations

P.S. If you are able, please consider becoming a sustaining donor to the Animal Aid Cares Fund with a monthly contribution to the program. With a donation of $50 a month (less than $2 a day), you can provide one additional lifesaving grant per year to an animal in need of urgent care.

In Memoriam

We celebrate the life of George Navarro, who sadly passed away on March 1. George and his surviving wife, Lucia, have been constant and ardent supporters of Animal Aid for nearly 50 years after becoming fans of our founder, Jack Hurd, in the 1970’s.

We fondly remember George as someone who had a giant space in his soul for creatures big and small. He consciously left a small footprint on this planet, but made a huge impact on our world. On behalf of all of the animals he helped over the last five decades and throughout his life, we thank him from the bottom of our hearts!

A Year in Review & Thank You

2018 was a significant year for our rescue as we commenced the second phase of our Shelter TransFURmation and completely remodeled our adoption floor and administrative space. We’re thankful for all of the animals who joined our shelter, our programs, and our hearts this past year and beyond, and we’re forever grateful for your support to make it happen.

As we continue into 2019 and our 50th anniversary year, we look forward to more peaceful purrs, more prancing paws, and more opportunities to be part of their journey into your arms.

Thank you for making this work possible.

Home for the holidays: Audrey & Midas

Dear friend of Animal Aid,

One thousand, one hundred and seventy-seven days. 

That’s how long bonded pair Audrey and Midas patiently waited to spend the holidays in their forever home. Rescued in 2015 from a backyard breeder alongside more than 40 cats and numerous snakes, Audrey and Midas came to Animal Aid having suffered physical and emotional neglect for their entire lives. We can only imagine the nightmares they experienced: scarcity and competition for food; lack of proper medical care; absence of human contact and comfort. Covered in mats and ear mites, and terrified of human touch, it was obvious that they had a long road ahead of them.

Thankfully, that road led them to Animal Aid, where instead of a cage, they were given a free-roam room, complete with windows for sunbathing, meals delivered straight to their cat tree, and plenty of cozy places to hide away from the people so eager to show them the kinder side of humanity. Because when you’ve been freed from a world of fear, sometimes what you need just as much as a world of compassion is a world of time. So it was time that we gave them. Time to explore their new landscape at their own pace. Time to observe us and assess our intentions. Time to snuggle into each other’s fur, just a little less burdened than they were the day before.

As a no-kill rescue, this is the bedrock of our work: to provide time—even if that means a lifetime—to our adoptables. It’s for animals like Audrey and Midas that this commitment matters most, and it’s through support from community members like you that we’re able to fulfill this mission. With your support, we’re able to open our doors to cats and dogs in need. With your support, we can provide them with individualized attention, including any and all medical or behavioral care. With your support, we have time to give them time to find their way home.

While we make it happen, it’s you that make it possible, which is why I hope you’ll choose to continue your support by making a year-end donation to Animal Aid. It only takes a minute to give, but the difference it makes for animals like Audrey and Midas lasts a lifetime:

• A $10 donation provides flea treatment or a microchip for an animal.
• A $60 donation provides a month of high quality food for a homeless pet.
• A $100 donation provides veterinary exams for four animals.
• A $300 donation provides a dental cleaning for a painful mouth.
• A $500 donation provides spay/neuter operations for 10 animals.
• A $1,000 donation provides surgery for an injury or medical condition.

Despite all that Audrey and Midas have been through, what stands out most about them is how incredibly bonded they are to one another. The love that they were denied by humans in those early years of their lives, they poured into each other. They became each other’s lifeline. And because of your generosity, we were able to provide them with the safety net they needed and the promise that they would always be together, whether at our shelter, in a foster home, or perhaps, one day, in a forever home of their own.

We didn’t know when Audrey and Midas would find their forever home, and honestly, we weren’t sure if Animal Aid might not end up being that place. And we were ready, should that be the case—to watch over them, to take care of them, to be there for them as long as it took. Then one day it happened: After more than three years in shelter and a lifetime’s worth of waiting, in walked the person who would spend several hours over several days visiting them, asking questions about them, studying them while being studied by them, and, ultimately, welcoming them home for the very first time.

Adoption delivery days at Animal Aid are always joyful, often tearful, and full of promise: The promise of new beginnings, nurturing companionship, and a lifelong commitment from Animal Aid to be there in whatever way our rescue animals, both adoptable and alumni, truly need us.

On behalf of all of us at Animal Aid, thank you for supporting our rescue and animals like Audrey and Midas.


Paige España
Director of Operations

P.S. While Audrey and Midas are home for the holidays, each day brings more animals who need our individualized care and lifelong commitment. Please help us to be their lifeline to a brighter tomorrow by making a one-time or monthly donation to Animal Aid today.

Mark your calendars for Giving Tuesday on 11/27

It’s TransFURmation Tuesday, and we’ve got our largest newly renovated free-roam cat room to share! We’re so excited to have this space nearly completed and ready to hand over to our rescue kitties, but we feel like something’s still missing….Be sure to check your inbox on Giving Tuesday on November 27 (that’s one week from today!) to find out how you can help us make this and our other 11 free-roam rooms into the purrfect spaces for our shelter cats! With your help, we hope to make this Giving Tuesday our most transFURmative one yet!

P.S. Haven’t heard about our Shelter TransFURmation remodel before? Learn more today at!

The Long Way Home: Neil the Heartstrings Dog

Dear Friend of Animal Aid,

Neil first came to our rescue in the fall of 2011, a young adult dog from a large county shelter who was suffering from the stress of life in a kennel. At the time, that’s pretty much all we knew about him. As we came to understand his likes (neighborhood walks, playtime in the yard, barking at friendly passersby), his dislikes (cats, lazy mornings, people invading his personal bubble), and his needs (patience, perceptiveness, an appreciation for his independent nature), Neil’s unique personality revealed itself to us. Three homes and seven years later, our journey to find Neil’s match continues. Neil is a Heartstrings animal: a harder-to-place dog in search of a meant-to-be companion.

Many of our Heartstrings cats and dogs are long-time residents who are still waiting for their forever family. They may be senior pets getting overlooked for the youngsters, animals with a medical condition, shy pets in need of extra reassurance, or animals with behavioral struggles due to abuse, neglect, or under-socialization.

That last description fits Neil. It’s likely that at some point during his early life, Neil experienced trauma that has made him react defensively to hands reaching for him. We can only guess what Neil encountered to create this reflex, and we can only imagine how hard it must be on him in a world where the common response to his wide, toothy smile and energetic disposition is to want to praise him with petting. What we do know is that Neil is in need of a little extra space, the freedom to be himself, and help to navigate his path through life with both tools for managing his fears and respect for his particular framework of happiness. When you give to the Heartstrings program, you help us provide the best care for every animal who enters our rescue and enters your heart—especially the ones, like Neil, who may be taking the long way home.

We know that you know Neil’s story, because it’s a story that is becoming all too familiar for homeless animals across our city and across the nation. It’s common to label dogs like Neil “difficult” or a “challenge,” but the real challenge lies with us. Will you join us in stepping up to that challenge? Together we can honor every Heartstrings pet’s individual needs. Together, we can work to make the world a safer, healthier, happier place for them. Together, we can be their next good thing.


Paige España
Director of Operations

P.S. Interested in learning more about Neil? Check out his full bio on our website and send your questions to Or, if there isn’t room in your home for a special needs pet, we hope you’ll find room in your heart and donate to the Heartstrings program and animals like Neil today.

Introducing the 24 Karat Kitty

Dear Friend of Animal Aid,

“Give me your hand, and I’ll have all the strength I need.”

If Goldie could speak our language, we think this would be her motto for life. Arriving at our shelter as a trembling bundle of matted fur, Goldie had every reason to feel a little more than fed up. At twelve years old, she looks closer to sixteen and weighs less than half of that, battling a persistent barrage of ailments: hyperthyroidism, kidney issues, a shaky body, an irritable left eye, and a right leg that goes in whatever direction it pleases (the result of an old, unknown injury). Having had a person to call her own for at least the past two years of her life, her human’s passing left Goldie homeless once more.

The key word here, however, is battling. Having come to us in an understandable state of duress, it was this frail kitty’s inner warrior that came out immediately. We see it in the way that she steels herself for her daily medications; in her resolute steadiness during another trimming to get rid of the mats in her fur; in the way that she approaches a tough road to better health with patience and a bit of well-placed moxie. She has patently refused to give in, and in spite of all that she’s dealing with, Goldie’s love for people shines through, bright and dazzling. It’s unmistakable, radiating outward when she looks up and sees you heading her way. Or when she’s fresh and rested and feeling particularly spunky. Or when you manage to find exactly the right spot under her chin that sets her foot tapping to a fluttering beat. Or, sometimes, when she simply rests her paw on your hand as if to say, “Please, won’t you stay awhile?”

When Goldie looked into our eyes and asked us this question, there was only one way we could respond: Yes, we’ll stay, for as long you need us.

At Animal Aid, that’s our commitment: To be there for homeless cats and dogs—whenever they need us, however they need us, for as long as they need us.

It’s a commitment to welcoming animals into our facility who aren’t thriving in larger shelters and working diligently to find them the best possible furever homes. It’s a commitment to operating a no-kill, free-roam shelter and a network of foster homes so that they never have to live in cages. It’s a commitment to arranging any and all medical care and training that will allow them to live the healthiest, carefree lives they can. It’s a commitment to providing a place to stay for as long as they need, even if that means the rest of their lives, and a lifetime return policy so that they will always have a safe haven. It’s a commitment to remodeling our shelter so that we can rescue more animals, and to partnering with other organizations so that pets and their people can stay together whenever possible. It’s a commitment to standing by our animals during all the stages of their life: young or old, healthy or sick, shy or headstrong, easygoing or in need of extra tenderness and time.

It’s a commitment that, like Goldie’s paw, we hold close to our hearts—but the truth is we can’t do it without your help. Will you join our commitment to Goldie and all of the animals in our care?

Your support allows us to serve our rescue animals in every way:

  • A $10 donation provides flea treatment or a microchip for an animal.
  • A $60 donation provides a month of high quality food for a homeless pet.
  • A $100 donation provides veterinary exams for four animals.
  • A $300 donation provides a specialist exam for a special needs pet like Goldie.
  • A $500 donation provides spay/neuter operations for 10 animals.
  • A $1,000 donation provides surgery to treat an injury or medical condition.

And if you are able, please consider the option to give monthly: With a gift of just $5 a month, your generosity will have an ongoing impact on the life of a homeless pet in need.

When you hear about animals like Goldie, a senior pet with a laundry list of special needs and more to come, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. For us, however, it’s part and parcel of our mission to reduce animal suffering and honor our pledge to be kind, compassionate, respectful, and responsible stewards. And in return, we’re gifted tenfold—with animated chirps of greeting in the morning; with gentle head butts of affection; with intricate, impressionistic nap time poses; with sage eyes full of love ready to be shared at the touch of a paw.

We’re committed to serving animals, and with your help, we’ll continue to shape new beginnings for the ones who need us most. On behalf of Goldie and all of us at Animal Aid, thank you for your support.


Paige España
Director of Operations

P.S. Though pets like Goldie never ask for much, they often need extra care to help them stay healthy and comfortable. Please consider making a one-time or monthly contribution to Animal Aid today so that all of our animals can put their best paw forward.

Become a part of the fabric of our shelter by donating to our facility remodel this season

“The heart dog is born with great purpose, but he looks like any other.
He will find you, walk by you, and leave you better than you were…
The heart dog is one you needed more than he needed you.”

– Cristine Dahl, “My Heart Dog”

Dear friend of Animal Aid,

If we asked you to tell us about your heart cat or dog, what would you say? Would you describe their physical characteristics in vivid detail or delve straight to the core of their personality? Would you share the day you met, your life together, the moment you knew they were the one? Would you break out in a smile or in tears? Perhaps you’d simply look us in the eye and share something that goes beyond words.

Our work at Animal Aid began from this same ineffable relationship. In 1969, we set out to provide for the animals in need in our community, and what we were provided with in return was an identity and a purpose. We found ourselves in the hearts of our rescue animals and made it our lifework to serve their needs first.

Now, nearly 50 years later, that bond and the mission that emerged from it are stronger than ever. But we need your help to see us through the next 50 years and beyond.

This summer, we broke ground on our Shelter TransFURmation Remodel Capital Campaign, a two-year, $300,000 renovation project that will expand our rescue capacity by 25 percent. Phase 1 of the remodel—completed this November—saw our ground floor converted from basement storage space to a second operational level of the shelter, including the construction of two new cat intake rooms, a new meeting room, and the refurbishment of our emergency dog kennel, laundry nook, restroom, and animal care supply storage.

When we begin Phase 2 in 2018, we’ll add three new cat rooms to our upper floor and undertake major renovations to our current animal care, administrative, and exterior spaces, including an upgraded lobby, a pedestrian walkway, and a giant cat tree that will serve as the focal point of our main free-roam cat room.

But what does all of this mean for the animals we serve?

It means we’ll be able to rescue more animals with behavioral needs like Bixby and Eugene, who both came to Animal Aid extremely frightened of the world around them. Now, through the attention and care of our staff and volunteers, the benefit of a free-roam shelter environment, and the time necessary to build their confidence, both cats have made considerable strides, with Bixby’s forever mom describing him as “the sweetest cat I’ve ever known.”


It means we’ll be able to foster more senior dogs like Barney and Ruthie, for whom a larger shelter environment is particularly overwhelming. Today, both pups enjoy the tranquility of their foster homes, with our emergency dog kennel ready to serve as a home-away-from-foster-home should the need arise.


It means we’ll be able to shelter more cats with medical or dietary needs like Gloria and Diego, whose food allergies used to leave them feeling itchy and uncomfortable and who subsequently benefit from a room of their own to maintain their special diets. These days, both kitties enjoy their own cat suites and room service meals catered to their specific needs.


Our work is only made possible through your generosity, and every dollar counts, now more than ever:

  • $10 will help pay for a giant cat tree and bench seating in our largest cat room, for greater enrichment and interaction.
  • $50 will help pay for a walkway between parking lots, for enhanced safety.
  • $100 will help pay for new windows throughout the shelter, for increased comfort and decreased utility costs.
  • $500 will help pay for cat condos, to give animals new to the shelter a chance to adjust to their surroundings.
  • $1000 will help pay for one of the 20 new or renovated animal care and administrative spaces throughout our facility, to expand our rescue capacity.

When you donate to our Shelter TransFURmation, you quite literally become a part of the fabric of our shelter, contributing to a loving refuge for countless animals now and in the future—animals who may be abandoned, abused, injured, or elderly; who may have special behavioral, medical, or dietary needs; who may simply need a safe place to rest their paws while they wait to find you.

On behalf of all of us at Animal Aid, thank you for supporting our shelter, our programs, and the animals that we passionately serve.


Paige O’Rourke
Director of OperationsP.S. Interested in other ways to contribute to our remodel? Visit our website to learn about room sponsorship opportunities and our donor recognition wall!