Pasado’s Safe Haven

11 Aug

500 pounds of pig and our guide greeted us upon entry to Pasado’s Safe Haven.


A home for a happy blind horse.

On the rural backroads around Monroe, Washington you’ll find nice scenery, farms, pastures, rivers, and Pasado’s Safe Haven.  Touring the facility is wonderful, painful, and educational at the same time.  This Haven is dedicated to ending animal cruelty.  Started thanks to a donation of 85 acres of land, they have built a place where farm animals suffering from abuse, neglect, or even some escaping forest fires, have a place to recover.  With large and small pigs, horses, donkeys, cows, goats, chickens, geese, turkeys, and much more being cared for in carefully thought out spaces and shelters.  One of the horses was blind, but was both confident and friendly as people offered veggie snacks.

They also help rescue dogs and cats.  A house on the property has become the home for around 80 cats.  The rooms have climbing spaces as well as hiding spots.  A tunnel connects to a large outdoor space so whenever they want to, they can head out without getting lost, or becoming dinner in woods.  They even have a very nice isolated space for cats infected with Feline HIV.   Next door to the Cat House is a cage area for feral cats with individual bedding spots providing safety, then cage doors the staff can close at night, and reopen in the morning.

IMG_4301Dogs have dedicated spaces as well, some with their own house and yard.  Though timid, most of the dogs welcomed us to their space and the barking we heard turned out to be the dogs asking us to visit their space.

Our tour guide shared some of the tales of how these animals came to Pasado’s Safe Haven.  A few are dropped off by people who know they cannot care for an elderly or injured pet, many others came from rescues and police agencies that contact them for help.  A few came from rescues at the forest fires going on in Eastern Washington where families had to flee to town, and their animals fled into the wild.

The name of the sanctuary is in honor of the friendly donkey named Pasado who greeted families and friends at Kelsey Creek Farm & Park in Bellevue for many years.  Unfortunately, on April 14, 1992 a few high school boys in the area brought a noose to school and bragged that they were going to hang Pasado.  For whatever reason, nothing was done, and nobody protected a donkey who trusted and welcomed everyone.  pasado_kelseyCreekWEB-454x301[1]Late that night, the three broke in and tortured the poor donkey.  With the rope tied to a tree, the boys were able to beat the donkey with sticks with one of the blows able to crack the skull, and the donkey’s escape only led to being strangled by the noose around his neck.  The late night visit and torture ended after 45 minutes with the death of the donkey.   Three were arrested; Douglas Michael Gans, 20, Adrian Dean Lombardi, 18, and a 16-year-old juvenile.  Though big words were tossed by prosecutors and politicians, the Judge (Michael J Fox) went with minimal penalties based on the laws on the books.

Why would such a horrific crime have minimal punishment?  The answer became clear once public outcry offered up a comprehensive law, named The Pasado Law that would make it a crime to torture and intentionally treat animals in a cruel way.  Unfortunately, the law was quickly shot down, despite strong public (that means people like me and you) enthusiasm by groups (Per the Pasado information) the “Cattleman’s Association, the Beef Producers, Dairy Farmers, Grown in Washington Egg and Chicken Farmers, the Farm Bureau, and a litany of farmers packing the hearing room and demanded that the law never be passed. The law covered intentional acts of animal cruelty. It didn’t pertain to accidents, such as inadvertently running over an animal with a tractor. The law had provisions for farmers facing monetary difficulty or insolvency who couldn’t afford to feed their flock or herd, resulting in their animals’ starvation.”

The image of farms with cows grazing on bucolic pastureland and ties to the local community, was replaced by the image of farmers operating huge factory enterprises, agri-business with a high-production, minimal cost philosophy. Animal well-being didn’t enter into this modern farming equation.  The agriculture lobby, a well-funded, powerful group, was ardently against this legislative reform. When the legislative session ended, the Pasado Law was dead.

“After another twelve months of work, the Pasado Law finally passed, but with certain key exclusions. All farm animals were exempted from the law. Common practices, such as throwing a live pig into a vat of boiling water, is legal, acceptable animal husbandry. Death by boiling water prevents visible slaughter marks on pigs who are used for cook-outs, and the aesthetic of an unmarked pig outweighs the cruelty of his or her death. Dairy cows who could no longer walk after repeatedly giving birth to provide milk wouldn’t be spared, either. They could still be dragged alive by chain to slaughter, struggling but unable to escape after years of service.”

The end thought is that perhaps we should take the time to consider our choices when we buy our food from something other that just pricing.  Perhaps find where it comes from, who grows it, what chemicals are used and what is not used.  Then consider simply the ethical process of animal treatment.  The tragedy of Pasado was an isolated incident, but what happens in a factory chicken farm, or industry cattle ranch is a daily occurrence.   Find out more at:





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