Six Animal Rescue Groups in Thurston County Working Hard to Help Our Four-Legged Residents

cat adoption olympia
Photo credit: Gale Hemmann


By Gale Hemmann

Edward Jones Block AdAs Margaret Mead once famously said, “Never doubt that a small, thoughtful group of committed citizens can change the world.” Our local animal rescue groups are proof of this statement’s truth. Whether it’s cats or dogs, horses or birds, Thurston County is home to several nonprofit groups who aim to make life better for animals in need.

Animal rescue is a cause close to my heart. I began volunteering at the Feline Friends cat shelter in 2006. I can honestly say that my weekly volunteer shift there, socializing and feeding cats, has changed my life. I was looking for a positive way to channel my energy, and my work at the shelter – helping shy and scared cats learn to trust again, meeting other like-minded volunteers, and celebrating cats’ adoptions into “forever” homes – has given me a way to do just that. My Friday night shift at the Feline Friends Cat House and Adoption Center is the highlight of my week (in fact, I call it my “happy hour”).

cat adoption olympia
Feline Friends offers many great adult cats, kittens, and special needs cats for adoption. Here, Boston the cat relaxes in their warm, friendly shelter environment. Photo credit: Gale Hemmann

Feline Friends is only one of the groups in our area devoted to serving animals. I set out to learn a little more about each group and how we, as local residents, can help them. While each group has a unique mission, I found a couple of common themes. One is that all groups are pretty much entirely run by dedicated volunteers. The second is that all the groups strive to stretch limited resources to do the most good, and they count on (and greatly appreciate) your support to keep them going. All the groups profiled here rely on a combination of donations, fundraising, and sometimes small grants to help them continue their activities.

If you love animals, I encourage you to think about what you may have to give. Is it time to volunteer or attend a fundraising event? Offer a foster home for rescued animals? Donate needed supplies? The ways to help are almost endless.

Here are some of the groups in our area working hard on behalf of local animals:

  • Feline Friends: Feline Friends rescues and places hundreds of unwanted, abused and homeless cats each year. They house cats at their cozy, home-like Cat House and Adoption Center near Steamboat Island until they find their perfect “forever homes.” Feline Friends makes sure all their cats are spayed or neutered and up-to-date with vaccinations before being placed. As a long-time volunteer, I can tell you that this group truly works tirelessly to take good care of its cats. They are always looking for volunteers, foster homes (especially during kitten season), and of, course great permanent homes for their adoptable cats and kittens.
  • A volunteer holds a rescued baby rabbit at For Heaven’s Sake Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation in Tenino. Photo Courtesy of For Heaven’s Sake Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation
    A volunteer holds a rescued baby rabbit at For Heaven’s Sake Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation in Tenino.
    Photo Courtesy of For Heaven’s Sake Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation

    For Heaven’s Sake Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation: Started by the husband-and-wife team Claudia and David Supensky, this group rescues all types of injured and abandoned wildlife in our area at their lovely facility in Tenino. A dedicated group of volunteers works all hours to bottle-feed baby squirrels, rehabilitate injured birds, and care for many other animals. Run by loving hearts, their animals get top-quality care and are released back into the wild whenever possible. Spring brings many abandoned baby animals, so they especially appreciate your support right now.

  • Concern for Animals: Concern for Animals’ mission is “helping those who cannot help themselves.” In the last 33 years, CFA has helped thousands of local animals through providing veterinary services, spay and neuter, foster and adoption, and the Emergency Pet Food Bank. They serve low-income residents in Thurston, Mason and Lewis Counties. Their chief goal is to help keep pets with their families whenever possible. Your volunteer timemembership or donations will help keep this group going.
  • Covenant Creatures: Did you know that Covenant Creatures (CC) also provides outreach and services to pets of low-income people? They offer health checks, vet services, companion animal education, and food and supplies at their Care Center (income requirements apply). This unique group is truly appreciated by those who need assistance with caring for their animals. Several local veterinarians donate their time to the group. CC’s services often make the difference in allowing animals to stay with their families. You can drop off donations of supplies at several locations around town.
  • animal rescue olympia
    Hooved Animal Rescue of Thurston County rescues all types of hooved animals, including this goat. He is pictured here looking healthy and happy after being in HAROTC’s care.
    Photo Courtesy of Hooved Animal Rescue of Thurston County

    Hooved Animal Rescue of Thurston County: This group (HAROTC for short) formed in 1998 to rescue, rehabilitate and find homes for horses and other hooved animals in Thurston County. They specifically work with local law enforcement to rescue hooved animals that have been impounded due to neglect or abuse and offer them a second chance at life. They mainly receive horses, but have also taken in alpacas, goats, mules, sheep and pigs. HAROTC also provides horse owner education and emergency food and veterinary help when funds allow. To see truly amazing “before and after” photos and videos and to learn more, visit their website or Facebook page.

If you’re interested in helping out Thurston County pets in need, you may also wish to check out this ThurstonTalk article about Animal Services. We are lucky to have a wonderful shelter in our community, filled with caring staff and volunteers, and there are many ways you can help them.

Yet another way that these groups in our area serve animals is to offer low-cost spay and neuter resources for cats and dogs this time of year, as kitten and puppy season quickly approaches. Spaying and neutering your pets (and encouraging others to do the same) is one major way you can make a difference in reducing pet overpopulation and making sure every animal gets a home.

Volunteering together to help animals also makes a great family experience. For example, many shelters I spoke with have parent-child teams who come in to help care for animals. Children learn so much (and adults as well), and the family gets to spend time together doing something positive. A TV show or video game is never going to thank you – but one look into the eyes of a rescued cat, dog, or horse, and you’ll know the depths of their gratitude.


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