Without their services, many animals in need of aid would be left to their own devices and most likely perish.
In nearby Sultan, Pasado’s Safe Haven has been a voice for animals since 1998 when it was officially founded by Susan Michaels and Mark Steinway. The impetus to start the organization stemmed from the death of Pasado, a sweet, beloved donkey who lived at Kelsey Creek Farm in Bellevue. Twenty years ago, three teens broke into the farm and attempted to ride Pasado.
When he refused, they beat him; a beating so severe that it ultimately led to his death.
The community was outraged and work began the very next day to form an organization committed to the mission of animal rescue, rehabilitation and adoption.
At the time, there were no laws to protect Pasado and the only charge that could be filed against Pasado’s killers was trespassing.
It was obvious to many that someone needed to be an advocate for the animals and to fight for legislation to protect them.
“We catch the animals who fall through the cracks and cannot be serviced by other organizations,” explains Amber Chenoweth, media manager for Pasado’s Safe Haven. “We also take the animals who will not have a second chance — the old, broken and forgotten. We fondly call these animals our, ‘Imperfectly Perfect.’ They are the seniors, the blind, the deaf the incontinent, etc.” She adds, “Often times, an animal is in need of medical care or surgery and that has prevented them from being adoptable. We provide the necessary care to mend them, give them lots of TLC and then find them loving forever homes. Sometimes, their wounds are emotional because they have been abused or neglected. In this case, we also provide them with as much love, care and interaction needed until they are ready to move into a loving home.”
Currently, there are over 200 assorted dogs, cats, horses, cows, llamas, goats, chickens, ducks, pigs, turkeys and sheep at the sanctuary.
All are available for adoption unless they are part of a pending court case or otherwise noted as such by the facility veterinarian.
Chenoweth explains that the organization often assists law enforcement with cruelty cases and if an abused animal is at the sanctuary during a court case, that animal is considered as evidence in the case.
She says, “We cannot adopt them out until they are turned over by law enforcement.” The sanctuary is one of the few rescues that require an extensive screening process and home check before adopting out one of its animals.
Typically, over 100 animals are adopted out annually. A staff of 28 mans the place, including several anticruelty investigators who are available 24/7 to partner with communities, animal control and law enforcement in placing animals that are victims of cruelty and neglect.
These efforts are supported by a mobile spay/neuter program which services hundreds of animals each year, as well as awareness campaigns to educate the public, helping to identify and prosecute those who commit animal cruelty.
A cadre of 70 devoted volunteers is also involved in the sanctuary’s operations. “Our animals love it when people volunteer to just spend time with them —brushing them, interacting and showing them that they are loved,’ adds Chenoweth.
The organization solely relies on public donations to continue its life-saving efforts, as it receives no government funding or support.
Free group tours of the sanctuary are offered quarterly in order to increase public awareness of the organization’s work and its mission.
“People often see Pasado’s Safe Haven on the news fighting animal cruelty and they come on a tour because they are interested in wanting to learn more,” comments Chenoweth. “They want to meet the animals up close and be able to touch and interact with them.”
She notes that visitors are often most amazed by the farm animals because they don’t realize that a pig, for example, has a unique personality much like someone’s pet cat or dog at home.
Some of the favorite creatures that people meet on the tour include Lady Baa Baa, who came to Pasado’s as a distraught lamb after her mother was sent to slaughter, and Babs, the donkey, who was used as rodeo practice and was terrified of people when she first came to the sanctuary.
Chenoweth comments that when people meet these animals and are able to touch and feed them while hearing their stories, they form a real connection with them and realize that their lives have incredible value.
She adds, “They see that they are wonderful beings who should not be treated poorly and they make the connection that farm animals can feel happiness and pain and other emotions just like other animals.”
The sanctuary’s beauty also amazes visitors. It’s a picturesque place amid the foothills of the Cascades, providing a pastoral setting that is soothing to both humans and animals.
At the entrance is a sign that reads, “Sweet creatures who pass this way, once scared and alone, welcome to peace, for now you are home.”
Chenoweth explains that these words sum up what people see and experience at Pasado’s when they come on a tour.
She says, “You can truly see and feel the relief of the animals who once suffered, but now understand they are safe and loved. We want people to understand that animal cruelty is a crime and that it does not have to be tolerated. Speaking up and reporting animal cruelty not only helps the animal involved, but it helps humans, too.”
She notes that people who hurt animals are five times more likely to hurt a human being as well and adds, “By working together to keep animals safe, we can also keep our communities safe. We want people to know that animals’ lives often depend on a human to speak up and report animal cruelty so that they can be removed from the abusive situation.”
The sanctuary leaves a lasting impression on many visitors, while making them aware of the resources the organization has to offer. Some are even empowered to take action after touring the facility.
Chenoweth emphasizes that Pasado’s Safe Haven cannot fight the battle against animal cruelty alone. Increasing awareness of the issue is essential and the tours are one way to accomplish this goal.She adds, “We wish we could have saved Pasado. It breaks our hearts to think of how greatly he suffered in the end. That is our driving force every day – to make sure we do our best work for our namesake, in his honor, to ensure that other animals do not suffer like he did.”