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All creatures great and small get care at Center Valley Animal Rescue

From orphaned otters to rescued rabbits, animals find refuge at the Olympic Peninsula sanctuary. #k5evening

QUILCENE, Wash. — Domestic or wild. Newborn or elderly. Healthy or sick. At Center Valley Animal Rescue in Quilcene, every animal is important.

"We do everything and everyone and we're going to treat them all equally. They all deserve a chance at life and to live,” said director and founder Sara Penhallegon. 

She founded this nonprofit in 2002 after working in veterinary medicine and seeing too many animals euthanized. Today, those animals find a new life on this rural 30-acre property.

"It's what I'm passionate about. And so it's what I do,” she said.

In addition to the domestic animals that visitors can visit on weekend tours and adopt, Center Valley also takes in wild animals. There are baby weasels there now. They just released a couple of orphaned otters that Sara recovered from the crawlspace of someone’s home. In 2020, a starving cougar even found its way into this rescue. 

Wild animals are all off-limits to visitors so that they can be rehabbed and returned to the wild without getting used to humans.

Penhallegon lives onsite with her husband Marty and her dog Ember, who was, of course, a rescue. 

"So I'm a crazy person that works 24 hours a day,” she said, laughing. 

Those 24 hours are full of surprises. A typical day can include anything from releasing a coyote captured inside a local hospital, to pulling a 'stuck buck' out of a reservoir, to putting a cast on a squirrel.

And there are always hungry mouths to feed. During our visit, Penhallegon bottle-fed two newborn kittens, something that needs to be done every two hours.

“She does a lot of good work for the animals, kind of amazing, I think,” said David Amos, a longtime volunteer.

Amos works with the dogs like Nellie, a Great Dane, that arrived nameless and emaciated but is now healthy, happy, and ready for adoption.

"It’s a very special place to help animals that otherwise would not get any help,” he said.  

These animals help the volunteers as well.

“It's awesome. It's a lot of fun,” said Laurie Brent, who loves lizards and reptiles, and works with the snakes and iguanas at Center Valley.

“We're working on socialization and handling ability, to make them more adoptable,” she said, stroking the spiky scales on a big iguana.

Karen Nordstrom volunteers with the rescued rabbits. 

“It's like a weekly dose of serotonin. You can't feel sad when you're out here hanging around with bunnies,” she said.

The rescue continues to grow. They’re adding a 100-foot flight enclosure for housing large birds like eagles and turkey vultures, thanks to a grant from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Penhallegon's dream, though, is to work herself out of this job. But as long as any animal on the Olympic Peninsula needs help, she and the volunteers at Center Valley Animal Rescue will give it a home.

“They're all beings. They're all they're all wonderful. I don't necessarily value one over the next. I just find that they're all important," she said. 

Center Valley Animal Rescue's annual 'For the Love of Animals' Fundraiser is May 20th, 2023, click here for tickets.


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