By Dan Haag
The people who live in and visit Tillamook County love their dogs. With so many open, natural spaces for their four-legged friends to run and play, who can blame them? It’s a tail-wagging, tongue-lolling, sunbathing paradise.
Imagine you’re enjoying your day with your dog and the unthinkable becomes reality: you’re on a trail or beach and your fuzzy buddy runs off. Who do you turn to? Where do you start looking?
Luckily, there’s an extremely caring place in Nehalem where you can find help.
In 2011, Animal Haven By The Sea was founded by Nehalem resident Lee Blackmon to respond to the needs of animals in North Tillamook County. Lee is the primary responder when animals are lost, sick or in need of a forever home.
It’s a big job, but he has a big heart: he fosters, feeds, and exercises all of his four-legged guests in his home, dogs and cats both. He responds to calls of missing animals or animals in distress, day or night, and has rescued them from all manner of bad situations. In addition, any animal in his care will also receive needed medical care and a loving place to recover. And if you don’t have a forever friend yet, don’t worry, Blackmon will be happy to match you with a new best buddy.
Local volunteers and business owners have supported the non-profit organization with time and money, but like any non-profit, Animal Haven By The Sea faces fund-raising hurdles.
With a population of just over 25,000, this large, rural county covers over 100 square miles.
The north of the county hugs the ocean corridor between beach and mountains and has fewer than 4,000 population, many of whom are retirees.
For such a small population, it is often a challenge to raise the funds needed to keep the center running. Aside from monetary needs, Blackmon’s charges need food, blankets, toys, and, of course, veterinary care.
Luckily, community members and businesses are eager to help out: just this year, proceeds from the annual Muttzanita Festival in Manzanita helped pay off Animal Haven’s outstanding vet bill at Nehalem Animal Healing.
“Thanks so much to the local business sponsors, people with pets who attended, the awesome volunteers at this years Muttzanita event and the owners of Four Paws on the Beach, Matt and Meagan (Ruona),” Blackmon said.
Blackmon takes a genuine interest in the well-being of all pets, even those who have good homes. He can often be seen at the beach in Manzanita offering treats to visiting dogs or regularly filling water dishes he has donated to the Manzanita Visitors Center.
Without Blackmon’s efforts, there would be nowhere animals in need can find help in this part of the county.
It’s the kind of genuine care you’d expect from a place that loves its pets as much as Tillamook County does.
If you’d like to help Animal Haven Rescue By The Sea, visit www.animalhavenbythesea.org to find out more. Additionally, there are three Pet Food Banks in North County: Covenant Community Church, Nehalem Methodist Church, and North County Food Bank.