When someone needs a critter in Snoqualmie Valley, a woman is inevitably brought up as the local expert on all things small, wild, and furry. Being a huge fan of those three things, I decided I had to drive by to see what all the fuss was about.
I pulled up to the bright purple house just outside of downtown Carnation and opened my car door to hear a screen door slam, a phone ringing, and a woman patiently explaining how to keep an injured bunny alive.
That woman was Kathi Artus from Huellas Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Occasionally, I think I’m a busy person, but from now on, if I feel stressed and overworked, I’ll remind myself that this little purple-haired woman exists and calm down.
Originally from Colorado, Artus came to PNW in 1998 and Carnation seven years later when she needed more space. A lifelong animal person growing up, Artus would bring home all creatures.
She told me, “Once I found a baby owl in the woods and brought it home. Fish and Wildlife came and took it from me three days later, telling me it was illegal to have it. I rescued a pigeon from a mall parking lot, called my mom and told her he was a penguin. He laughed hysterically when I got home with the pigeon.”
Jamie the pigeon stayed for four years, which significantly affected his family. His dad showered with him every morning and his mom raised all kinds of pigeons, showed them in 4H and won several blue ribbons.
The Artus matriarch and her love of animals clearly impacted Kathi. Seventeen years ago, someone brought two baby squirrels to her Redmond living room when they couldn’t find a place for them, knowing how much she loved animals. Word spread over the years that she rehabilitated baby squirrels.
So when Kathi came across 54 squirrels four and a half years ago, she decided that if she didn’t get the license, she would get in a lot of trouble and the babies could be euthanized.
The process of obtaining the license was not easy. Artus had to find a vet willing to see his tiny clients when they were sick or injured, run tests, build enclosures, and pass inspection by the vet. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).*
A thousand hours of training later, in an authorized rehabilitation center, Footprintsnamed after his mother favorite poem, It was opened. The facility welcomes eastern gray squirrels, Douglas squirrels, flying squirrels, mountain beavers, chipmunks, ground squirrels, skunks, porcupines, white-tailed rabbits, and marmots, as well as mice and deer rats when you have the time.
This time of year, more time is something Artus could use. On an average day, his phone rings 70 to 90 times and people are looking for or asking questions about wildlife. She also has a job at her salon in Redmond, working full time to support the animals.
Kathi’s day starts at 6am and sometimes doesn’t end until the next morning. That time she spends feeding the animals, making formula, doing the dishes and laundry, chopping vegetables, and making dinner plates for everyone, not to mention going to the grocery store to buy MORE food.
A Footprints volunteer, Dee, found her when she brought in some baby opossums after the mother was killed. Paws couldn’t help but give her the center’s number and Kathi was with her within a couple of hours. She says that she is impressed with how much Kathi knows and that she doesn’t turn people away when she can help. She also noted, “she has a tremendous amount of patience not only for the animals but also for our crazy group of volunteers.
At the moment, Footprints has about twenty volunteers, but fifty could do with it. Artus says, “I need volunteers who can do night shifts, from 9:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. All other shifts are available starting at 6am.” He is currently trying to build an outdoor building that can house baby squirrels, have a kitchen, and needs water and gas pipes.
Says volunteer Dee, “Talk to Kathi is almost impossible. Just because her phone is constantly going off, she answers all the questions from people asking for help across the country. His knowledge of animal rehabilitation is incredible. She has a huge heart and she doesn’t stop working. Even when she is helping family and friends, she is always available. There isn’t a harder working woman on the planet.”
Dee, a twice-weekly volunteer who helps manage social media, clean, feed and transport the animals, marvels at Kathi’s organizational skills, saying she’s not sure how she sleeps, works full time and is still loving and caring after treatment. of some of these animals.
Artus is so caring that he recently spent $600 on an intestinal hernia operation for a squirrel that was released and is now running free in the trees. It’s easy to see why Footprints had a 70% release rate on 1,771 animals last year.
If you want to help Kathi and Footprints in their mission to Provide the highest quality of compassionate care, treatment, rehabilitation and release of orphaned, abandoned or injured small mammals, there are several ways to do it.
You can visit the website for information on how to contact Kathi to volunteer (you WANT to meet a baby possum, trust me), donate money, or set up a amazon smile account and support them at no extra cost when you shop. Footprints also have an Amazon wish list here. Footprints is a registered nonprofit organization, so all contributions will be tax deductible.
Whatever you decide to do, rest assured that the hardest working woman in the Snoqualmie Valley, Kathi Artus, will use it wisely. Thank you for all you do for our local Wildlife Footprints!
*Note: WDFW does not pay for prints. Every two years the department has a grant they can apply for, but Footprints is eligible for very little money because they care for non-native species.