Stranded kittens, dogs stuck in sewage pipes, abandoned baby raccoons, injured eagles - Whatcom County has its fair share of animals in need.
Luckily for them, the county has many hardworking people who, together, run multiple organizations created to help our furry and feathered friends.
Both wild and domestic animals have local safe havens, but the centers need all the help they can get. From volunteering to donating supplies, find out what you can do to help Whatcom's animals.
WHATCOM HUMANE SOCIETY
What they do: The open-admission shelter operates two facilities in Bellingham, and is the county's animal control provider. The shelter sees 4,500 to 5,000 animals a year.
"Our philosophy is to keep the doors open," says Laura Clark, executive director. "Where else will the animals go?"
Did you know? The society not only takes in dog, cats and other small pets, it also has a 10-acre farm in Everson to house larger animals. Lisa, a 600-pound pig, lived there until she found a home at a sanctuary in Oregon.
Current events: The society has been running the show from its Williamson Way shelter since 1972, but the facility is now too small. With the help of an anonymous donor, Clark says they're looking to open a new facility by early 2013.
How to help: Run almost entirely by volunteers, the society is always looking for more. "Our volunteers are just amazing," Clark says. "The TLC they give is so important." Along with their time, supporters also can donate money and supplies.
Learn more: whatcomhumane.org, 360-733-2080.
ALTERNATIVE HUMANE SOCIETY
What they do: The Alternative Humane Society is a volunteer-run, nonprofit organization with no facilities and a no-kill philosophy. The organization takes dogs into foster homes until a happy, forever home is found for the animal, says Angela Smithson, president.
Did you know? The society can only protect as many dogs as there are foster homes for them, so more people are needed to become foster dog parents.
Current events: The society has adopt-a-thons at Petco and Pet Palace in Bellingham multiple times a week. See the society's online calendar for details.
How to help: Along with foster families and volunteers for events, donations also are crucial, Smithson says, whether it's money or supplies of dog food, beds and blankets.
Learn more: alternativehumanesociety.com, 360-671-7445.
SARDIS RAPTOR CENTER
What they do: The largest bird-of-prey center in the Northwest, Sardis rehabilitates endangered or threatened species of birds, and provides emergency trauma care to all raptors.
Did you know? The Ferndale center is the permanent home for many species of hawks, eagles and owls that can't be released back into the wild because of injuries. Photos of the "permanent residents" are online.
Current events: Sardis staff offer educational events onsite in Ferndale, and travel to present their "Hunters of the Sky" program.
How to help: Volunteers run the educational programs and on-site tours, and care for the resident birds. People also can sponsor an animal and become a Sardis member.
Learn more: sardisraptor.org, 360-366-3863.
NORTHWEST WILDLIFE REHABILITATION CENTER
What they do: Located in Deming by the Nooksack River, the center raises abandoned baby wild animals, and nurses injured or sick wildlife back to health. The center's only full-time employee, Clinic Director Stacy Gaber, oversees a staff of interns and volunteers who help her care for more than 900 animals a year.
Did you know? To raise baby animals and prepare them for the wild, Gaber and the volunteers disguise their human figures so the animals won't become too attached to humans. They cover their faces, wear oddly shaped suits and don't talk around the animals, especially fawns.
Current events: The past spring and summer brought the largest number of fawns the center had ever seen, with seven staying there at once.
How to help: The center, which runs on donations, is looking for volunteers, board members and contributions. Funding has been tight since the economy slumped. "We struggle every year, but especially the last four years," Gaber says.
Learn more: northwestwildlife.org, 360-966-8845.
What they do: Based in Lynden, Dane Outreach finds foster homes for Great Danes that have been abandoned, neglected or surrendered by an owner.
How to help: People are needed to provide foster homes, to donate and to become volunteers. Volunteers screen and transport dogs, screen people interested in adopting a Great Dane, and help with events, fundraising and other activities.
Learn more: daneoutreach.org, 206-654-5111.
What they do: The Whatcom Education Spay & Neuter Impact Program, WeSNIP, provides spay and neuter services to low-income pet owners. Pet surgeries are free for owners who receive significant government assistance; other low-income owners can have their pets fixed for $35 to $75. The organization also provides reduced-cost microchipping and vaccinations.
How to help: WeSNIP is looking for people interested in becoming board members, businesses or people willing to donate to cover printing costs, and individuals who want to donate money or supplies.
Learn more: wesnip.org, 360-733-6549.
FRIENDS FOR LIFE CANINE SCHOLARSHIP FUND
What they do: The foundation supports the successful adoption of dogs from Whatcom County shelters by providing need-based scholarships to "positive training" centers for dogs, and need-based assistance for adopted dogs facing a catastrophic or emergency medical expense.
How to help: Financial donations are encouraged, and potential volunteers with a special skill, talent or service are encouraged to contact the foundation.
Learn more: friendsforlifecsf.org, 360-594-4223.
What they do: Based in Blaine, Furbaby Rescue takes in small-breed dogs that need people to adopt them.
Learn more: furbabyrescue.com.