1221 SW 4th Ave. Suite 210, Portland, OR 97204
Virginia Krakowiak, a senior dispatcher at the Bureau of Emergency Communications (BOEC), answers 9-1-1 calls and sends fire, police, and medical first responders to help people. BOEC calltakers also regularly receive concerned calls about sick or injured animals. Krakowiak noticed that she and other 9-1-1 staff have very limited options for these calls, and she recognized another opportunity to help. She developed a successful proposal for the City’s Innovation Fund to create OCCRA: On Call Community Rescue for Animals. Today, City Council approved the $20,000 proposal. As Commissioner in charge of BOEC, I am thrilled to congratulate Virginia on her successful application to the City’s Innovation Fund. Her commitment to BOEC and helping sick and injured animals exemplifies the best of public service.
Today, when someone calls 9-1-1 because they see a sick or injured animal, they are told to contact Multnomah County Animal Control from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Outside of those hours, there aren’t any resources available to help wild animals unless the animal is causing a road hazard or the individual is willing to pay out of pocket for a private contractor to respond. Krakowiak’s proposal addresses this problem by engaging a network of trained volunteers who respond to injured or lost wild animals, provide care to animals, and provide transport to appropriate rescue, shelter, or sanctuary. The twelve month, $20,000 grant will pay for pagers; rescue kits, crates and other similar equipment; and volunteer medical insurance coverage, as well as training. Because of this proposal, 9-1-1 dispatchers will be able to advise callers to contact OCCRA rather than law enforcement or animal control anytime between the hours of 5 p.m. and 8 a.m.
It’s anticipated that the proposal will save law enforcement time and money because people will no longer request police response for calls about sick and injured wild animals. Krakowiak will voluntarily organize and run the program outside of her work hours. OCCRA will be available when equipment has been purchased and volunteers have been trained. Krakowiak has consulted Multnomah County Animal Services, Oregon Humane Society, and Dove Lewis Emergency Animal Hospital about this proposal.
If you are interested in volunteering for OCCRA, please contact Virginia.Krakowiak@portlandoregon.gov.