December 3, 2019

Feeding the soul through care and healing

A Kaiser Permanente nurse’s animal refuge underscores the importance of sanctuary, safety, trust, and good health.

More than 160 animals are cared for at the animal sanctuary, where they receive medical rehabilitation, social rehabilitation, TLC, and eventually, adoption to good, safe homes.

When Wendy Smith isn’t working as an urgent care nurse at Cascade Park Medical Office, she’s taking care of 160 residents on her 4-acre wooded property in Washougal, Washington.

The “residents,” as she calls them, are neglected and abused farm animals that have been brought to Odd Man Inn Animal Refuge for medical rehabilitation, social rehabilitation, TLC, and eventually, adoption to good, safe homes.

“The name Odd Man Inn is a play on words,” explained Wendy. “Residents are not the odd man out; they are the odd man in. We love and respect all animals.”

A smiling man and woman sitting in the back of a pickup truck.

Wendy Smith and her husband, Joshua, created Odd Man Inn Animal Refuge three years ago with the goal of fostering respect for neglected and abused farm animals.

Each resident has a name and known personality. For example, they jokingly call a certain pig HooptyDoo because it was a such a big deal when he got a facelift to restore his vision. He had arrived at the sanctuary 100 pounds overweight, which caused his forehead to collapse over his eyes.

“Operating the sanctuary feels like the right thing to do — for humans, for farm animals, and for the environment,” Wendy said. “For humans, we promote a plant-based lifestyle and require that adopters not use their animals for consumption, imprisonment, or abuse. As a nurse for the past 21 years, I’m familiar with how dietary choices can affect one’s health. For residents, we take care of their medical needs, give them compassion and love, and help them live a natural life. A plant-based diet (versus a meat diet) reduces negative effects on the environment.”

Wendy serves as medical director for the facility, applying her medical know-how from years of clinical practice on humans. A self-described researcher and science nerd, she peppers veterinarians with questions to increase her knowledge and improve her skills. For serious cases, she sends residents to the veterinary school at Oregon State University.

Wendy and Joshua are aided by a handful of part-time employees and about 30 volunteers. It takes 2 hours each morning to feed all the residents, including preparing individualized meals of fresh fruit and vegetables for the pigs. About 4,000 pounds of food donations come in each month from local retailers and farmers — usually surplus items that would have gone to a landfill.

Why does she do it?

“Dedicating my time and energy to Odd Man Inn feeds my soul,” Wendy said. “I am a better health care provider at my job because I’m doing something that gives me another perspective on compassion and empathy.”

A November 2019 TV news story in Portland, Oregon, calls Wendy a community hero. We couldn’t agree more.