It takes a dedicated person to save a skunk. Not everyone is ready for this task.
Brandy Smith didn’t hesitate, even defying her father’s pleas, when a skunk was in distress in a neighbor’s yard.
Smith has been a lifelong animal lover and as a child walked down the driveway, around the fence between yards and knocked on the neighbor’s door.
Smith stayed with the skunk, who was caught in a trap, until her father made a contraption out of a fishing rod to harness the animal.
“All of our neighbors would come in and say, ‘What have you guys had? What do you have now? I was sitting in the back of the truck, petting a skunk. And they all fled,” Smith said.
The skunk, which did not spray, was released into a nearby forest. And so began Smith’s animal rescue journey.
From her own pocket and the home she shares with her grandmother, Smith rescues all manner of animals – cats, dogs, turtles, snakes and even birds.
“I take the savages where they need to go. I always make sure they get into a wildlife rehabilitation center. The ones I get calls for, I always try to make sure they’re going to the right place,” Smith said.
Smith is originally from Portland and has moved to several locations in the Pacific Northwest. She always rescued animals wherever she lived, but her contribution to Yakima kept her busier.
She has no business cards and does not advertise. She works by word of mouth.
“I always let people know, ‘If you need help, I’m here for you.’ Now it’s to the point where I have people randomly calling me all the time,” she said.
Before fostering an animal, Smith will take it to a veterinarian to be scanned for a microchip. Microchips in pets contain owner information to reconnect pet and family. She also posts information on various lost and found pet pages on Facebook.
“Literally, that’s all my Facebook is. They (rescue animals) just took it over. So it’s theirs now. I don’t even know why my picture is on my Facebook,” said Smith.
When Smith rescues or adopts an animal, she covers the bills for veterinary visits, injections and neutering. When her rescues are adopted, Smith’s fee is just what she spends on the animal’s care.
“I never get anything from them. They come with all their papers and shooting records. I’m just asking people to pay the vet bills that I paid,” she said.
Smith also coordinates foster homes for animals. She does not welcome all the animals she welcomes; she relies on five other people to help her.
Most of Smith’s rescues are embraced through his Facebook posts. She sends some of the animals to larger Yakima rescue organizations. She conducts personal interviews with interested adopters and families. A home meeting is necessary and Smith prefers that all family members and pets be present.
After the maintenance process, Smith will allow potential adopters to foster an animal for a weekend. Two to three days gives them an overview of what to expect and whether they can handle adoption.
As an independent, self-funded rescuer, Smith can house pets in a kennel-free home. But she knows her limits. When Smith can’t find the proper placement arrangement, she turns to other rescues like Yakima Valley Pet Rescue for help.
It’s not what she wants to do, but Smith knows that the safety and welfare of the animal is what matters most.
Smith uses the Yakima Greenway to exercise and socialize dogs. This is a big deal for everyone involved.
Greenway’s maintenance staff and gardeners enjoy spending time with the dogs, who know the workers keep treats with them on their Gators, and when the dogs see the staff, they know what’s coming.
Some staff will even take a rescue dog for their shift at the Greenway.
“I can socialize dogs with people and their dogs and that’s a huge thing. Without them I’d be pulling my hair out. Exercise and socialization are super important, you know. It’s a big part of their life,” Smith said.
Smith is completing prerequisite courses for the nursing program at Yakima Valley College. Nursing will allow her to earn money to support herself and her family as well as her rescues. It will be a balance between work and the emergency services.
She calls her foster families and her adopted animals her children. She stays in touch with the families and keeps up to date on animal welfare.
“I can’t tell you how many rescues I’ve done because it’s too many, but I can tell you where almost every one of my rescues is. I know them personally. Even though I didn’t before, we are creating a family. I stay in touch so I know they are responsible owners,” Smith said.
Turns out Smith was late to the interview for this story. She had stopped to save two loose dogs in the street.