Pet Improvement: A hero for all animals

Scott Beckstead is pictured with his rescued thoroughbred, Cheyenne. Beckstead is the rural outreach director for the Humane Society of the United States. (Courtesy photo)

It’s a rare occasion to find someone that advocates for all animals, not just our beloved pets. But Scott Beckstead is this person. He is currently the rural outreach director for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), among many other roles, and is one of Lincoln County’s own. He practiced law here from 1994 to 2008 and was even the mayor of Waldport for five years.

Scott started out with life on a farm. He could ride a horse almost before he could walk. His passion for animals grew, and he participated in 4-H and Future Farmer’s of America, learning about livestock, chickens, goats and an array of different animals.

One day as a child, he saw a television show about the white baby seals that were bludgeoned for their fur. His mother walked in and saw tears in his eyes and told him that one day when he grows up, he could change this. And change he has done. In 2000, he co-authored the first casebook on animal law and continues to teach at Willamette University. He is literally a pioneer of this field.

Many of the animal protection laws that are currently in place are a result of his work. He was behind the passing of the Good Samaritan Law in Oregon. This protects civilians that need to rescue animals and children left in hot cars. And since it is summer, it’s a good time to refresh on the requirements. If you believe an animal or child is in danger, notify law enforcement immediately. Then use the minimum force necessary to enter the vehicle and stay with the pet or child until law enforcement arrives.

Another example of his work is on the national level. He was instrumental in getting the Pets and Women Safety (PAWS) Act passed to help victims of domestic violence and their companion animals. This law recognizes that pets are also victims and in need of protection. Often a woman is controlled and stays in the relationship longer because of the threat of harm or death to her pet. Animal companions provide emotional support to the victims and thus become targets of the abuser. This new program will help provide shelter and housing assistance for victims and their pets.

In 2008, Scott was offered a position with the HSUS. He left Waldport and established the Duchess Sanctuary outside of Oakland, Ore. The sanctuary is literally a horse’s paradise. It’s a safe haven for formerly abused and neglected equines. Many of the horses are rescued from the Pregnant Mare Urine industry.

When Scott moved, he took his beloved rescued thoroughbred racehorse, Cheyenne, and six other rescued horses and a cow with him. Cheyenne was badly abused when he got him, but Scott earned his trust, and he became the greatest horse that our hero has ever known. When he ordered the registration papers from the American Jockey Club, it turns out the horse’s name was “Scotty’s Wings.” Truly a relationship meant to be.

Jane Laulis is an avid pet lover. She hosts a pet talk radio show and is involved with pets from research to retail, nutrition to pet food manufacturing. She lives on the coast with her scientist husband, ocean faring dogs, indoor cats, exotic snakes and a charm of hummingbirds. She may be reached at [email protected]

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