Buddy, a tiny 7-year-old terrier mix, is nestled in the crook of Betty Ann Taylor’s arm, shaking. In October, a group of hikers found him in the woods near the Aubrey White Parkway. He had a broken leg, broken teeth and was so covered in fleas and ticks that he was anemic.
“I’m pretty sure somebody kicked this guy off a cliff,” Taylor said.
Taylor, a volunteer at the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Services, or SCRAPS, has been caring for him ever since. Buddy is nearly healed now; in the next few days he’ll get dental work.
Buddy is one of more than 10,000 animals SCRAPS rescued in 2015, said Janet Dixon, the organization’s development manager. Like Buddy, many of these animals were injured or lost by either accident or intention.
Moving to larger quarters in 2014 helped SCRAPS double the number of animals rescued, from 5,000 to 10,000 annually. The shelter focuses on finding homes for the animals it rescues, helped by more than 800 volunteers like Taylor.
“We couldn’t run without volunteers,” Dixon said.
Taylor has been fostering and tending to animals for 20 years, first in California and now in Spokane. She takes the most injured animals SCRAPS rescues, like Buddy.
“She is so valuable to us,” Dixon said. “These are the dogs no one else will take.”
Now that Buddy is nearly healed, Taylor will try to find him a new family. It’s a procedure she’s familiar with. Damaged animals come to her, she tends to them and then finds them good homes.
In her year and a half working for SCRAPS, she said, she’s fostered and subsequently placed 12 animals. None of those have been returned to the shelter.
Taylor said her passion for caring for animals started while working in Southern California, at a high-kill shelter. The shelter was so crowded, she said, they had to euthanize dozens of animals a day simply to make room for new animals. She said watching “perfectly beautiful animals” be killed inspired her to start fostering animals.
“I like animals better than people,” Taylor said.
Taylor said it can be hard to bond with an animal only to say goodbye, but getting them a new owner is important.
“The thing is, if I don’t move them out, I can’t move another one in,” she said.
Although Buddy is nervous and still recovering from his injuries, Taylor said he’s a loving and devoted dog, once he gets to know you.
“He wants to be with somebody and he loves to be with somebody, but it will take some time,” Taylor said. “It’s not going to happen overnight. They didn’t get damaged overnight.”
SCRAPS does euthanize animals, but only if the animal is so sick or injured that recovery is unlikely or if the animal is hyper-aggressive, Dixon said. The shelter’s no-kill rate is 92 percent.
Nearby, Chance, a pit-bull terrier mix, sits in a kennel. A car hit Chance on New Year’s Day. He was lucky and didn’t break a leg, but he did lose the skin on his paws and scraped his nose.
With that collision, he became the first animal Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Services rescued in 2016. In the seven days since then, SCRAPS has rescued 75 animals.
“It doesn’t take much to change their entire life,” Taylor said.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.