Animal advocates see increase in calls


November 10, 2022

If the numbers are anything to go by, Wahkiakum Animal Advocates Group (WAAG) is providing a much needed service in the community.

“We had a very busy 2022,” WAAG President Rebecca Hompe said.

WAAG volunteers worked 1,300 hours in 2021. Up until September of this year, they’ve already worked 5,000 hours.

“That includes people taking animals for veterinary services, to making runs to pick up pet foods to take to the different food pantries, all the on call hours, taking calls and trying to help people with their animals, and requests for assistance from the sheriff’s department,” Hompe said.

WAAG has had 19 calls from the sheriff’s department so far this year. In 2021, they had a total of 15 calls.

Community calls for assistance increased from 200 in 2021 to 221 in 2022, so far.

The organization has gifted 3,200 pounds of dry food for dogs and cats and 600 cans of dog and cat food to local food banks.

They’ve provided financial assistance for the spay/neuter voucher program to anyone who has pets in the county, Hompe said, plus medicines, emergency medical, pet food, and foster care, doling out more than $3,700 for those things.

“We’ve spayed and neutered up to about 138 animals so far this year through the trap, neuter, return program and through the vouchers,” she added.

About 15 volunteers provide education, information, and referrals to pet owners or help out with driving or foster care.

The four members of the board, which is looking for a fifth member, handle the on-call schedule.

There are a lot of anecdotes.

WAAG assisted community members when a border collie and two puppies were found at the far end of Elochoman Valley Road.

“The puppies were easiest to catch,” Hompe said. “The adult dog, which they thought was the mother originally, was very elusive. WAAG was more of a support. It was a combination of people who set up cameras. Eventually a trap was brought in. It took nearly a month to catch the dog.”

When they did catch him, he was full of porcupine quills and about 20 pounds underweight.

“WAAG has a really good relationship with Animal Health Services in Kelso,” Hompe said. “They offer a discount to us if we have an animal in need. He was taken there for treatment.”

Luckily for little Romeo, as he was named at the time, a veterinary technician fell in love with him. She volunteered to foster him and to make sure he got the care he needed.

“She still has him to this day,” Hompe said. “He’s living the life.”

Sometimes WAAG gets a call when a resident has been taken to the hospital and their pets need temporary foster care.

"With the help of the sheriff’s department, we would go in and get those animals and take care of them, and then return them home,” Hompe said.

On another occasion, a local resident did not have access to water. Volunteers bottled water and brought it to her dog.

Once in a while, the organization might have animals for adoption, but they are not an adoption agency or a rescue.

At a recent Wahkiakum County commission meeting, Hompe shared the increasing numbers in hours, calls, and money spent. Last year was the first time WAAG asked the commissioners for financial support for taking calls from the sheriff’s department.

Hompe said that 30 percent of the organization’s finances came from county monies last year, while 70 percent came from private donations and through fundraising efforts.

“We are asking for some county support because our expenses have gone up, not to mention the demand has really surged this year,” Hompe said. “People have been extremely supportive and trying to help us do different fundraising things in the county.”

“People are struggling to pay their bills, they want to keep their pets in their homes, but they need help with some of the materials to do that.” Hompe said. “We’re trying to be there as that resource as well.”

An opportunity to support WAAG is coming up on November 19, when they will hold a pet food drive at the covered area at Elochoman Slough Marina from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The food and supplies they collect will be used to stock local food bank shelves before winter and the holidays.


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