PORT TOWNSEND – When Holly Stone Cabe saw the note, she almost passed out.
“It was almost $ 3,500, for one night,” she recalls.
Her dog Louie, attacked by a coyote in her yard just outside of town, needed emergency care. Cabe looked for a vet who would see him – and two days after the attack in mid-November, she took him to an emergency clinic in Poulsbo.
Cabe had also found Pet Helpers of Port Townsend, a new nonprofit run by volunteers.
It was this group that made the connection and provided the funds to take care of Louie.
“They saved my dog’s life,” Cabe said one morning last week while holding Louie, whom she calls a “mystery breed.”
The couple met two Pet Helpers volunteers outside the Port Townsend Community Center, where Cabe put up with the cold and wind in order to tell his story.
Louie “is the bravest dog in the world. He is very protective, ”she began.
“He’s very sturdy – all muscular. Usually when coyotes pass by, it barks at them. But it was a four-pack. Three of them fled. He fought with the fourth.
When Cabe found Louie, his throat was bleeding. He went into shock.
The dog underwent surgery during his short hospital stay and recovered at home.
Her sutures will come out soon; Cabe has another friend who sponsors this cost.
It was Laurie Riley, founder of Pet Helpers, who made all the difference, said Cabe, 66, with a disability.
Louie’s emergency care bill was way beyond his means.
Riley, who is also disabled and runs her organization from her home office, said Cabe is one of more than two dozen clients who have received help from Pet Helpers since its inception earlier this year.
Shelters on the northern Olympic Peninsula occasionally offer low-cost sterilization and vaccination clinics, Riley said, but even the reduced fees are out of reach for some pet owners.
Not to mention emergency care which can quickly run into the thousands.
Riley, whose experience includes serving as a veterinary clinic assistant and therapeutic musician in hospitals, has worked with those in need for many years. She saw what the two-way connection between humans and other animals means.
“If you have a pet, it provides a feeling of love and caring that cannot be replaced,” Riley said.
“Especially in difficult times, your pet gives you unconditional love. If you’ve lost your job or your home, when it happens to you, your pet is your lifeline.
www.pethelpersporttownsend.org is the portal for pet owners, potential volunteers and donors, while Riley can be contacted at [email protected].
She has about 10 members of her volunteer team, including a woman who paid a large vet bill with her personal credit card. A fundraising campaign is underway to help pay it off. It is the general policy of Pet Helpers to use donations to pay veterinary bills directly.
Meanwhile, Riley receives several requests for help each week.
“To refuse someone is just heartbreaking,” she said.
“We need volunteers and we need donations.
Marla Tangen and Cyne Okinczyc are two who have joined the Pet Helpers team – for similar reasons.
Pets “make us happier than we would be” and give us a reason to get up and get out of the house, Tangen said.
“This human-animal connection,” Okinczyc added, “is essential to our well-being.”
This holds true for anyone, regardless of their financial situation, believes Riley.
“Some people, who are better off, think that the homeless don’t deserve to have pets,” she said. But Riley saw the dedication her homeless clients show to their dogs and cats.
Many would prefer veterinary care at the grocery store for a month. They look after their pets before looking after themselves, Riley said.
“All animals deserve to be healthy,” she said, adding that her human customers have shown her deep gratitude.
Pet Helpers has made connections with people living in the Transitional Housing Village of Peter’s Place in Port Hadlock and Mill Road Encampment in Port Townsend – and with people who have housing but cannot start paying for themselves. veterinary care for a serious illness or injury of a pet.
An operation can cost a year’s salary, Riley noted.
Some clients need a Pet Helpers volunteer to arrange a vet appointment or drive to the clinic; “The more volunteers we have, the better things work,” she said.
The main thing, for Riley, Cabe, Tangen, Okinczyc and Louie, is love.
“He’s a good companion for me,” Cabe said of his dog.
“He’s a nuisance sometimes, but we all are. ”
Jefferson County Senior Reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]