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We started OCCRA 6 years ago via city micro grant. I was working for the Bureau of Emergency Communications in Multnomah County—where we saw an ongoing gap in services for animals in emergencies, especially after hours. The injured raccoon, the bird of prey with a broken wing by the road, the trapped stray kitten in a culvert. I wanted to create a volunteer based organization who could respond to these calls that fall through the cracks. Because I know humans, and they care and want to help! It just takes spreading the word.
The next 6 years was a lot of red tape, meetings with partner agencies, 1 step forward and 2 steps back. I took some time off while I focused on being the team lead for the Oregon Humane Society Technical Rescue team (where we respond to dogs off cliffs, confined space rescues, cats in trees, etc). The OHSTAR team goes above and. beyond to try and help in the calls where no one else can go, and they, together with OCCRA, try to meet needs in the community where they can, and when it’s appropriate and they can safely respond and have somewhere to take the animal!
A few years ago, I was advised by a non profit mentor to apply for the after hours animal control contract in the county. That this might be the step I need to help grow the organization and help provide a service that we wanted to provide. I left the umbrella of Friends of Portland Fire & Rescue 501(c)3 and moved OCCRA in to it’s own organization with the IRS so that we could have the larger platform we need to apply for the contract. On April 1st, 2022, we were awarded the 5 year contract!
It has been a very very busy 3 months. There is a team of 3 of us that are on call 15 hours a night, 7 days a week! We also are starting to get more and more calls for wildlife and things that are outside of the county contract. These are calls we respond to on a good samaritan/unpaid basis. And these calls are why we need donations! They are coming in more frequently, just this last month we responded to 7 raccoons, 1 opossum, 1 great horned owl, 2 squirrels, 3 crows, 1 mallard, and those are just the calls we responded to physically.
Because of the overwhelming demand of the contract and OCCRA good sam calls, I decided to leave my career as a 911 dispatcher after 11 years. My last day was on July 2nd, 2022. I, (OCCRA president Virginia), will start volunteering at Rowena Wildlife clinic in Mosier, OR, this week. To work towards my thousand hours and long term goal of becoming a wildlife rehabber. It is the beginning of another long journey, but I am excited for it and thankful for the support of the board, our team members, and our followers and supporters!
You can follow us on social media (links at the top of our webpage), as well as on Patreon for more behind the scenes stories. Most of our after hours calls involve protective custody or police holds, etc, and we cannot share photos or details publicly, however we do share what we can! We have an amazon wishlist, and you can make us your charity of choice on amazon smile, or on fred meyer rewards! Thank you so much for being with us on this journey! And please reach out if you are interested in becoming one of our after hours contractors! Volunteers will be in a few years (insurance making us wait a bit longer to show excellent behavior, alas!)
Bless you and your giving hearts!
Look in their eyes, see the source, show them kindness.