HomeScienceWildlifeFootprints Wildlife Rehab Center: A Voice for Animals in The Snoqualmie Valley

Footprints Wildlife Rehab Center: A Voice for Animals in The Snoqualmie Valley

When someone needs a critter in the Snoqualmie Valley, inevitably one woman is named as the local expert in all things small, wild and furry. Being a huge fan of those three things, I decided I had to take the ride to see what all the fuss was about.

I stopped at the bright purple house just outside downtown Carnation and opened my car door to hear the bang of a screen door, a phone ringing, and a woman patiently explaining how to keep an injured rabbit alive.

That woman was Kathi Artus from… Footprints Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. Every now and then I think I’m a busy person, but from this point on, when I’m feeling stressed and overworked, I’m going to remind myself that this little purple-haired woman exists and settle in.

Originally from Colorado, Artus came to the PNW in 1998 and Carnation seven years later when she needed more space. A lifelong animal person growing up, Artus would take all the critters home with him.

she told me, “I once found a baby owl in the woods and took it home with me. Fish and Wildlife came to take it from me three days later and told me it was illegal to have it. I rescued a pigeon from a shopping center parking lot, called my mom and told her it was a penguin. She laughed hysterically when I came home with the pigeon.”

Jamie, the dove, stayed for four years, which had a major impact on her family. Her father showered with him every morning, and her mother went on to raise all kinds of pigeons, showing them at 4H and winning several blue ribbons.

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Artus’ matriarch and her love for animals clearly influenced Kathi. Seventeen years ago, someone brought two baby squirrels to her salon in Redmond when they couldn’t find a place for them, knowing how much she loved animals. The news spread over the years that she had rehabilitated baby squirrels.

So when Kathi had 54 squirrels four and a half years ago, she decided that if she didn’t get a permit, she’d be in big trouble and the babies might be euthanized.

The process of getting a license was not easy. Artus had to find a vet who was willing to see her little clients if they were sick or injured, run tests, build pens and do a vet inspection. Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW).*

A thousand hours of training later, under a recognized rehabilitation center, footprintsnamed after her mother’s favorite poem, had been opened. The facility takes care of eastern gray squirrels, Douglas squirrels, flying squirrels, mountain beavers, squirrels, ground squirrels, skunks, porcupines, cottontails, and marmots, as well as deer mice and rats when she has the time.

At this time of year, Artus could use a little more time. On an average day, her phone rings 70 to 90 times when people find or ask questions about wildlife. She also has a job at her salon in Redmond, where she works full time looking after the animals.

Kathi’s day starts at 6 am and sometimes ends the next morning. That time is spent feeding animals, making formulas, washing and washing dishes, chopping vegetables, and making plates of food for everyone to eat, not to mention going to the grocery store to buy MORE food.

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A Footprints volunteer, Dee, found her bringing in baby possums after the mother was killed. Paws couldn’t help but give her the center number and Kathi had her in within a few hours. She says it impresses her how much Kathi knows and doesn’t turn people down when she can help. She also noted, “she has an insane amount of patience for not only animals, but our… crazy bunch of volunteers.”

At the moment Footprints has about twenty volunteers, but can use fifty. Artus: “I need volunteers who can work evening shifts, from nine o’clock in the evening until about three o’clock in the morning. All other services are available from 6am.” She is currently trying to build an outdoor building that can house baby squirrels, has a kitchen and needs water and gas pipes.

Says volunteer Dee, “Talk to Kathi is almost impossible. Purely because her phone is constantly ringing, she answers all questions from people asking for help across the country. Her knowledge of animal rehabilitation is incredible. She has a huge heart and does not stop working. Even when she helps family and friends, she is always available. There is no harder working woman on the planet.”

Dee, a fortnightly volunteer who helps manage social media, clean, feed and transport the animals, marvels at Kathi’s organizational skills, says she’s unsure how she sleeps, works full-time and remains so loving and caring after the treatment of some of these animals.

Artus is so caring that she recently spent $600 on intestinal hernia surgery for a squirrel who was released and now roams free in the trees. It’s easy to see why Footprints had a 70% release rate on 1,771 animals last year.

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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 you can 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 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 non-profit organization, so all contributions are tax deductible.

Whatever you decide to do, rest assured it will be used wisely by the hardest working woman in the Snoqualmie Valley, Kathi Artus. Thank you for all you do for our local wildlife Footprints!

*Note: Footprints is not paid for by the WDFW. Every two years, the department has a grant they can apply for, but Footprints qualifies for very little money because they care for alien species.

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