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Okandogs: Rescuing dogs — and now, feeding starving cattle

By on October 25, 2020 in Uncategorized with 1 Comment
Tom Short loves dogs and dogs love him. Even though Tom is well into retirement, his Okandogs rescue mission keeps him busy all day, all week long. Many an unfortunate canine has embarked on a new, happy life with Tom’s help.

By Jaana Hatton

Tom and Jan Short have a wonderful home in Cashmere, right on the Wenatchee River. It’s grand enough to be a resort. In a way, it is — for dogs.

The Shorts are the founders of the Okandogs dog rescue. It all started in 2014.

“After my retirement we started walking the dogs at the Humane Society (in Wenatchee),” Tom, a former Air Force and commercial pilot, said. 

While volunteering, they learned that the Okanogan area has no humane societies or animal rescues of any kind. The Shorts became that much needed entity.

“Wenatchee has been very helpful,” Tom said, referring both to individuals and businesses. 

Okandogs is a non-profit organization, relying on donations to keep going. Their mission is to “help dogs in the Okanogan region of Washington State… to rescue, spay/neuter, provide emergency veterinary care, and adopt out or transfer dogs to West-side rescue organizations.”

“The money situation is okay right now,” Tom explained. “We need volunteers, such as admin help and dog walkers.” 

The adoption, which costs $150, is a bit more than just a cash-and-carry scenario.

“We are picky,” Tom pointed out. “The adoption form is five pages long. We do our best to make it a good match and find a good home.”

On the day of the interview, I watched an adoption in progress. The new owner-to-be was beaming with joy, as any new parent would. 

The dog seemed equally happy. He was not quite physically perfect, with only three legs, but clearly blessed with an upbeat personality. 

After some final rounds of walking on the property, they headed home to start a new chapter in life for both. Tom watched them go with a pleased smile; one less homeless dog in this world.

“We have a good working board,” Tom explained further. 

The board consists of Tom Short (President), Jan Short (Vice President), Chancey Crowell (Attorney), Suzi Ochoa (Treasurer), Sue Johnson (Secretary), Penelope Varn (Community Outreach), Stephanie Kraemer (Board Member), Colleen Hoverson (Board Member and boarding kennel owner).

With rescue dogs, there are often medical issues. Okandogs has a donor-based Emergency Vet Fund, and so far it has been adequate to cover the needs.

“A vet bill can add up to $7,000,” Tom said.

“We have a special program called “Mom’s Last Litter,” he said.

This means that when entrusted with a pregnant female, Okandogs will pay for the spaying of the mother after the litter is born.

Fortunately, the Shorts have a strong support network and are able to keep the rescue work going. Their needs aren’t tiny — rather, they are notable. With food, equipment and transportation for the dogs, there are considerable expenses.

Okandogs are grateful to be the owners of a large transportation van, donated by Hans and Cindy Koch. The donors dedicated the van to their late pet dog. Considering that Okandogs has taken in some 3,800 dogs since 2014, good transportation is sure to help.

At 75 years of age, Tom wants to make sure the rescue work is carried on even after he and Jan are too old for it, or no longer around. 

 “We are looking for a place somewhere between Wenatchee and Leavenworth to establish a facility, to leave a legacy,” Tom explained.

Currently, the Shorts have 20 dogs in their home; a couple of permanent residents but mostly temporary rescues, which means the work is never-ending.

Not all dogs are perfect on the outside, but it’s the inside that counts. This happy pup is missing one leg but was fortunate to find a welcoming home with a good-hearted adopter.

Besides rescuing dogs, Okandogs has taken the work a step further: helping the Okanogan area with their need of feed hay. This year’s fires caused tremendous damage to the hay supply and animals in the area are starving.

“On Friday (Oct. 9), we will be happy to deliver 15,000 tons of hay to the Okanogan area,” Tom said. “We haven’t spent any money on the trucks, gas or drivers — the truck owners have donated it all. Even the hay was donated.”

When I asked what the highlight of this year was, he said there were too many to pinpoint just one.

“Bringing dogs back from the edge of death is always a good feeling,” he said.

Yes, indeed. And bringing a dog to the peaceful, caring sanctuary that the Shorts’ home is a good end to many a sad story. 

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  1. Beckie says:

    I sorry but all dogs are perfect they may have limitations but that doesn’t mean they are not perfect. Just like humans sometimes the perfection can’t be seen

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