Washington Rock Quarries regularly blogs about causes and businesses that use our rock, sand, or soil products. As part of Give Big Day on May 8, we are featuring A Soft Place to Land.
A Soft Place to Land
Outside the police station, Deputy Tyson Vea found a little squirrel shivering and distressed. With no mother squirrel in sight, Vea put the orphan in a box with a warm sweatshirt, water, and ground up nuts.
The next day, the Edgewood Police Department called A Soft Place to Land, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Graham, Washington. The facility took over the responsibility of nurturing the six-week-old squirrel who may have died without intervention.
Now the squirrel, dubbed Deputy P. Nutty, is on a path to recovery and will eventually return to the wild. A Soft Place to Land is true to its name: it’s a safe haven for wild animals who need a second chance.
Nurturing the Wild in Animals
These kinds of stories are par for the course for the director of A Soft Place to Land, Jasmine Fletcher-Glaze. Located in the hills above Lake Kapowsin, Jasmine’s facility is a small network of paddocks and sheds tucked into the woods.
Currently, her facility houses a number of interesting guests: a baby porcupine, a family of cottontail rabbits, and baby opossums.
Jasmine loves her work, but unlike what most people think, her job isn’t all fun and games. When she isn’t feeding the wildlife or dispensing medication, she’s shoveling gravel, cleaning out cages, or building fences.
“I don’t get to cuddle cute animals all day,” Jasmine says. “I love it. It’s not always fun, but I love it.”
The grounds include a large cage for housing animals like porcupines and skunks, a large pen and feeding shed for fawns and elk calves, and a storage shed for feed. Jasmine also build a new intake area where she receives incoming guests.
Jasmine’s goal is for the animal visitors to not only return to the wild but to be wild. Glaze does everything she can to separate herself from the animals. Cameras around the property allow her to watch the animals’ progress while limiting contact. A trap door outside the fawn and calf pen makes it possible for her to drop in racks of bottles or buckets of water unseen. Pellets are poured into a tube on the outside of the pen that empties into a bowl on the inside.
“This way, they’re not seeing me,” Jasmine explains. “They’re drinking from the bottle racks when they’re on formula instead of associating me with feeding them.”
Turning a Tragedy into an Opportunity
Jasmine knew she wanted to work with animals at a young age. At age 14, she started shadowing a veterinarian named Dr. Olson on the coast of Washington.
“I probably asked a bajillion questions, and he let me! He let me follow him around and hang out in the clinic. That was the best place to be. I learned a lot from him,” Jasmine says.
Later, she worked with animals as a veterinary technician and then worked as a certified pharmacy technician and medical administrator. She became interested in wildlife when her family moved to Graham, and she finally opened A Soft Place to Land in 2016.
Only two years in, Jasmine decided to close her facility, unsure she would reopen. She made the decision after another facility, For Heaven’s Sake, was raided by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The raid resulted in the euthanization of three animals and the planned euthanization of 12 others. The animals were allegedly too habituated to humans.
Jasmine was concerned that there was no due process for either the animals or for the caretakers at For Heaven’s Sake. The deer who were euthanized were young and were still being fed formula. Jasmine felt that there were other options that would have allowed the animals eventual release into the wild.
Jasmine decided to allow her wildlife rehabilitation permit to lapse and vowed that she would only resume her efforts once she was confident WDFW would treat all wildlife rehabilitation facilities with fairness.
“I think regulations are important and oversight is important,” Jasmine says. “I don’t minimize the role that [the WDFW plays], and that it’s needed. It’s just that there has to be some balance too.”
Uproar over the incident at For Heaven’s Sake led to the eventual release of the 12 deer. Jasmine and other rehabbers became part of a new Wildlife Rehabilitation Advisory Committee that worked with the WDFW for over a year to revise wildlife rehabilitation regulations.
On Friday, January 11, 2019, all of Jasmine’s and her fellow committee members’ work came to fruition when the WDFW presented a revised plan. The new plan “provides a better communication process between facilities and the state to say, ‘This is what’s going on,’” Jasmine explains.
The process hasn’t been perfect, Jasmine acknowledges, but she feels that compromise is important in making improvements.
“I want to have rehabbers in the state at least work together,” Jasmine says. “Even if both sides are compromising, at least some [can] meet somewhere in the middle and look at both sides of the issues.”
The Rewards of Rehab
Jasmine’s philosophy is to give every animal a chance. “I love watching them get back out in the wild,” she says.
Over the years, Jasmine has rehabilitated over 300 animals, including elk, deer, weasels, squirrels, chipmunks, rats, otters, and minks.
Even with all of Jasmine’s hard work, some animals can’t return to the wild. As explained in the video above, one example is an African porcupine named Porky who was discovered wandering Spanaway last year. After spending some time at A Soft Place to Land, Porky ended up at the Fort Worth Zoo in Texas where it was discovered that Porky is a she!
How to Help Wild Animals
“A lot of the wildlife we get into care is either directly or indirectly due to people’s actions,” Jasmine says.
Jasmine has received animals who were being kept as pets, animals injured by cars or pets, and animals who were wrongly thought to be orphans. She recommends that if you aren’t sure whether to help an animal or not, contact a local wildlife rehabilitation facility for advice. You can search for facilities near you on the WDFW website.
How to Help A Soft Place to Land
Those who are interested in supporting A Soft Place to Land can donate online. The facility can always use items like paper towels, dish soap, laundry detergent, bleach, and building supplies like lumber, wire, and roofing materials. Jasmine’s big dreams include a large above-ground pool where animals like otters can practice fishing. She is also looking for carports and yard equipment.
You can follow Jasmine’s adventures on Facebook. To learn more about the gravel used at the facility, visit our Top Course Page.