Animals in the Family

Dogs, cats and farm critters find refuge and new homes with Pasado’s Safe Haven

Bernie and Herman are two pigs who aren’t bacon in the making. They live at Pebble Cove Farm, a small farm and bed-and-breakfast on Orcas Island, where as owner Lydia Miller says, “they just wander around all day getting pets and scratches,” and interacting with family members and guests alike. The pigs are so much a part of the family that Herman was bestowed an old family name. (Bernie is in honor of Bernie Sanders.)

While Bernie and Herman are treated like pets, Miller sees them as doing important work. 

“Animals should be treated with respect and kindness,” she says, “but there’s a disconnect for so many kids and adults about where their food comes from, and how those animals are treated. Our guests leave here having had close contact with animals. That’s gotta make an impact.”

The Millers’ three teenage boys have grown up with animals, doing chores and interacting with them. Once, the family had breeding goats, but as vegans found it hard to sell the babies because prospective buyers wanted to eat them. The goats multiplied. 

“At one point, we had 25 goats,” Miller says. The numbers eventually dwindled, but not quickly, since as she says, “everyone has a long, happy life here. No one is eaten on our farm.” She adds that her neighbors have a small-scale meat operation. “Their motto is ‘Our animals just have one bad day’ and I respect that. It’s the factory farming I have a problem with.”

Unlike the multitude of goats, Bernie and Herman didn’t start life at Pebble Cove. They were born at Pasado’s Safe Haven, where their mother was given sanctuary after being rescued.

Pasado’s Safe Haven is an animal refuge and advocacy organization in Sultan that rescues and rehomes animals of many kinds, from dogs and cats to cows, goats, and roosters. They provide sanctuary for 200 to 250 animals at any given time on their 85-acre refuge an hour northeast of Seattle. 

They also do many other kinds of what they call “pro-animal, anti-cruelty” work, including investigating animal-cruelty cases and educating and advocating against animal cruelty.

The organization is named after Pasado, the beloved donkey of Bellevue’s Kelsey Creek Farm who was tortured and killed by three teenage boys one night in 1992. Pasado’s death shocked and horrified people across the Puget Sound area, but it served to galvanize them as well. 

The day after his death, plans began for what would become Pasado’s Safe Haven. In operation since 1997, the organization has helped pass six animal-cruelty laws in Washington state, as well as preventing the slaughter or abuse of the animals they bring to their sanctuary. They are able to rescue many more animals than the refuge can hold through their animal adoption program.

Pasado’s Safe Haven offers many ways for kids and families to get involved, including tours and vegan cooking classes, classroom presentations, volunteer opportunities, advocacy calls and educational resources. Supporters say that adopting an animal is a great way to make a difference. 

Not only does adopting ensure that an animal will have a happy home, “families that adopt make space to bring in the next animal,” says Laura Henderson, the nonprofit’s executive director. 

While dogs and cats are the most popular choice for animal adoptions, the Hargrove family of Snohomish was looking for something different. 

In April, Madalyn Hargrove brought two male goats home to her family’s 2½ acres as a birthday surprise for her husband, Mark. Their 2-year-old daughter, Matilda, promptly dubbed them Woody and Buzz, and treats the goats (and the family’s two basset hounds) like her brothers.  

“They love on her, she loves on them,” says Madalyn. “These goats are the most loving goats in the world.” She credits their friendliness and charm to the nurturing the caregivers at Pasado’s Safe Haven gave them. “Pasado’s did a great job. Woody and Buzz are people-friendly and happy, regardless of the circumstances of their birth.”

Woody and Buzz were among 24 male goats that Pasado’s Safe Haven rescued from a dairy farm in December. Dairy goats must be bred to produce milk, but dairy farms don’t have a use for male babies and most are killed.

Not Buzz and Woody. They not only survived, but are sure to have very happy lives. They have a quarter-acre pen, but spend much of their time freely roaming the property. They come up to the porch and eat the overgrown pasture. As Madalyn explains, “They’re, like, in heaven. They eat different things all day long.”

The Hargroves chose to adopt rescued goats out of a commitment to helping animals, but also feel it’s good for Matilda. They wanted to teach their daughter how to be kind to animals, and not to be scared of them. They both grew up around goats and other animals themselves, and felt animals were a positive thing to share with their daughter.  

Henderson agrees. “Children are naturally drawn to animals,” she says. “Animals are a relatable and fun way for kids to think about being kind and compassionate, which impacts the whole world.” 

Or as Lydia Miller puts it, “How we treat animals and how we treat people are interconnected.”