Animal sanctuary trying to overcome water shortage
|Photo courtesy Pasado's Safe Haven
MONROE — With the sound of papery swish, his head plunged into a feast of alfalfa and hay.
A full water bin sat to the side of 2,900-pound Blue, who munched contentedly. His barn, shared with eight other cattle, draws about 50 gallons of water daily. It usually auto-fills into insulated bins that draw from wells on the 85-acre Pasado’s Safe Haven site in Monroe. Lately, though, it is filled manually, several times a day.
“We’re kind of in a pickle,” sanctuary director Stephanie Perciful said. “There’s no record of where all of our water wells are. We don’t know if we have a leak or if our well is producing.”
The wells at Pasado’s Safe Haven started underperforming in July and now set off low-water-level alarms multiple times daily. The added work to delivering water doesn’t seem to impact the 200 to 250 on-site animals, but is “taking away from productivity” for the agency, Perciful said.
Pasado’s houses abused, abandoned, hoarded and neglected livestock and domestic animals that are taken from homes due to illegal treatment. The nonprofit does not publicly release its location, due to its role in housing animals that are evidence in court cases. The agency also sends an investigator to crime scenes, assisting law enforcement when animal cruelty is suspected.
Right now, Pasado’s resources are diverted to deal with a well problem that will cost approximately $500,000 to resolve, in a process that will connect them to the city water system as early as spring, but possibly in the summertime.
Water has been trucked in, first from Water Buffalo in Bonney Lake, near Puyallup, and now from Kenmar in Mount Vernon. Water activities to deal with the well problem are costing $2,500 per month, with that cost encompassing water being trucked in, port-a-potties, having animal-related laundry washed off-site, needing to purchase disposable items to avoid water use for dishes, and other tasks.
Other changes the sanctuary is taking are costing money, such as using reusable kitty litter boxes replaced with disposables. Comfort levels are challenged as well, with caregivers going without running water overnight, as the wells are shut down to refill. Pasado’s 39-strong human team uses portable toilets and hand sanitizer to reduce water use during the day.
The advice from an inspection was to “find the leak,” Perciful said, but Pasado’s cannot even guarantee where the wells are. Their system was built gradually, over the 25-plus years the agency has been in operation. Records do not exist for all the volunteer-constructed wells and piping onsite, she said. Surrounding residents have also had trouble with water resources, she said, suggesting that a plan to restore a well-system may be too expensive and lead to a dead end. So the choice was to seek a city water connection.
The daily need for the full sanctuary is estimated at 1,000 to 1,500 gallons a day, said Wendy Ogunsemore, Pasado’s communications director. Pressure washing is scheduled regularly in all onsite pens; animals sometimes need bathing, after being trapped in unsanitary conditions; and the animals receive veterinary care onsite, including spaying and dental work. Pigs needs a mud bath to keep from getting sunburned, and birds need ponds to cool off and bathe. Domestic animals from hoarding experiences are not litter trained or potty trained, and many need veterinary care, so laundry duties are plentiful.
Multiple barns are connected with dirt roads, traveled with a four-wheel drive or a Kubota utility vehicle.
The animals do not seem to notice a problem.
Poppy is a wiry haired, mix-breed Guinea hog with a content expression and an affinity for pumpkins and berries. She races to the gate of her pen, then roots and nuzzles the front of a running shoe as guests enter. Offering a welcoming gaze upward as if to say, “look how shiny my black hair is,” she moves in a half-circle and curiously nibbles to find out how socks taste.
“I’m the snack lady,” Perciful says, explaining the sanctuary-wide fame she has.
Perciful said the nonprofit agency houses dogs, cats, pigs, goats, donkeys, sheep, turkeys, ducks, chickens and alpacas. The animals are rehabilitated with medical care and socialized, and can stay indefinitely, or may be adopted as pets or members of hobby farms. As an official sanctuary, adoption rules are set by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.
Adopted pets “cannot be used for food, and no milked cows. They’d have to breed them and take their baby away,” Perciful said.
Many of the abused and neglected animals taken into Pasado’s were from homes where domestic violence took place, Perciful said. Hoarders are a second category found in their investigations. Ogunsemore said animal-hoarding is its own mental-health ailment, and once animals are taken away, the suspect will shift to another type of animal unless they receive care.
Pasado’s helps ease dark memories of animals taken from cruelty cases, by providing veterinary care, proper nutrition and adoptions.
Ziggy is a longtime resident. He is a turkey, with two close friends who visit him for his personality and back massage talents. Volunteer Sabrina Bonaparte lies face-down on the ground for Ziggy as he walks with clubbed, inward facing feet on her upper back, “I get several back massages a day,” she said.
“One of his favorite things is when I play music for him,” Brandon Blake said of Ziggy. He and wife, Sabrina, have been volunteering at Pasado’s for more than two years. “It’s changed our lives.”
Pasado’s has already begun the process of connecting to the Highland Water system, which will cost about $500,000 estimated to connect its 85-acre site to city water. The process is expected to be complete in the spring or summer. To donate, call 360-793-9393. The agency’s website to make a donation is www.pasadosafehaven.org/ways-give/
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