The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

By Diana Zimmerman
Wah. Co. Eagle 

Angel Wings brings care to unwanted animals


Debra Lawson-Bean’s move to Wahkiakum County in March of this year was one step closer to realizing her dream of creating a safe haven for rescue animals.

A woman of faith, Lawson-Bean turns first to God for answers to matters in all aspects of her life. A lifelong animal lover, she first had a vision of an animal shelter in 2001 and she has watched it slowly come to fruition.

Her new house sits on nearly 20 acres and is home to six dogs, twice as many cats, three times as many kittens, three goats and more fowl than you can imagine.

Her caretaker has a gentle heart and a way with birds. Right now she has a full time job just keeping up with the eggs. The two have become good friends and are united in their common goal of caring for the animals.

“She’s got chickens who will sleep with you,” Lawson-Bean laughed.

Lawson-Bean was a nurse before she started Angel Wings Rescue.

“I just transferred my care from people to animals,” she said. “There is so much nursing involved, especially with the kittens right now. They have a virus and are on their third antibiotic. It’s just a matter of hours and they can go. It happens so fast with this virus.”

She currently has five different litters. Some of the kittens are feral, but she’s put them in the room with the rest, hoping they will be socialized. It seems to be working.

She enjoys the kittens, but worries about each and every one of them. She must, they all have names and she knows each personality.

She also worries that people will see her as a drop off spot for cats. She’d probably take all of them if she could, but it’s just not feasible.

“I have so many cats, it’s crazy,” Lawson-Bean said. “I would love this community to support this shelter. Everyone is calling me and wants me to take their animals. I want them to know that I’m not the Humane Society. I’m a private shelter. We need funds to run this.”

“I’d really just like to help out in special circumstances.”

Lawson-Bean’s heart goes out to the man who has loved his cat for 15 years but now must move to a nursing home and cannot bring his beloved cat with him. Her heart goes out to a happy dog named Buddy who had a tumor on his head. The tumor is gone now, but it can come back at any time. Her heart goes out to the two cats who were starving and miserable when their owner died and left them to the mercy of a neighbor who couldn’t be bothered.

Some of her rescues have come to her hungry, sick, abandoned and abused.

There are always the ones that she hopes will be adopted, but after awhile they become part of her family.

“If they are with me a certain time, they stay,” Lawson-Bean said. "It’s not fair to them, they’ve bonded.”

So has she.

The dogs, cats and goats have names and they all have stories.

Kingdom Come is a big German Shepherd. The cats, whether full grown or kittens love him and will cuddle with him as he cleans them. One small dog named Raider is blind, but very loving.

“Raider was a rescue pup,” Lawson-Bean said. “He was in a situation where he was in a room with about 10 other dogs and his owner just threw food to them. He was a mess and his skin was horrible. He’s the great Houdini now.”

Blind or not, Raider still managed to find a hole in the fence and escape one time.

“I rescued Tom-Tom the cat from an old trailer park,” she went on. “The vet told me he didn’t stand a chance. He is crippled in the back and has a crab walk. He was flea ridden and skinny. He loves it here. Now if you pet him he slobbers.”

Delight is a little black kitten with breathing issues. He was feral but now follows Lawson-Bean everywhere.

“You couldn’t get near him at first,” she said. “But one day, he came up and touched my leg.”

She thinks he might have asthma. She brushes it off, but she has become attached to this one and she worries.

Outside are three goats named Duke, Duchess and Dandy. She takes them “goat candy” and they follow her around. Dandy has gotten greedy lately and doesn’t like to share so once in a while he pushes one of them away.

They are nervous little creatures and they’ll faint if you so much as look at them funny. Their legs stiffen, according to Lawson-Bean and they fall on the ground. A half a minute passes, maybe a full minute and they come to and stand up again.

Kingdom Come tries to herd them and a small black and white cat that lost an eye comes and sits down right in the middle of them all.

“That’s Star,” Lawson-Bean said. “Star loves to hang out with the goats.”

There are chickens, every breed imaginable, brilliantly plumed creatures and plain Janes. There is a pigeon that can’t fly and a family of ducks, with babies all in a row. There is a chicken who won’t raise chickens, but will gladly adopt the ducks.

They too have names.

“There are people who would like to volunteer,” Lawson-Bean said. “I’m going to set up a training class. There is a lot of work to be done, and it’s not just playing with the animals.”

One man dropped off a bag of food recently, for which she is grateful. Haying needs to be done and though many have volunteered, it hasn’t happened.

“It’s great work,” Lawson-Bean said. “We get such amazing satisfaction from it.”

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