Jack Hurd's Story
The Animal Aid Fund for Urgent Veterinary Care was inspired by the remarkable man who gave us our start.
His Story Begins
In 1965 Jack Hurd was a radio talk show host. He happened to mention on the air that he, his wife, and the neighbors in the Laurelhurst area where they lived were surprised and appalled by the number of cats dropped off and abandoned near them in Laurelhurst Park. They had recently rescued a half-dead kitten that had been abandoned, and nursed it back to health. The kitten “Chicken Charley” lived a long life and was later accompanied by 12 more cats that the Hurds rescued while they lived at that location.
When Jack’s listeners heard about the problem, they called to talk about their own animal related issues. It was then that the concept of "Animal Aid" was born. Many people that called in related stories of their pets that were sick or injured, and the owners were frantic because they could not afford the necessary veterinary care for their beloved pets. Jack realized that something needed to be done as there was no organization available to assist with the issues of low- and fixed-income pet caregivers.
First Jack contacted veterinarians who were willing to provide reduced rates for their services. Initially Jack and Kathryn paid for the veterinary care for hardship cases out of their own pockets. As time went on, Jack’s radio fans started sending money to help out. Jack also contacted stores for donated pet food to deliver to needy pet owners. As a result of his on-the-air work, they acquired a team of 15-20 core volunteers who would help with fostering, adoptions and delivering food. There was even one “lost and found” lady who would go through all the newspapers and work to reunite pets with their owners. Kathryn noted that they placed about 1000 animals a year through the program that she and Jack founded.
In 1969 Animal Aid officially became a non-profit organization, so donations to the cause became tax deductible. At which time they started receiving an average of $300-$400 a week in donations from caring listeners. In 1972 Animal Aid was incorporated. The original goals/mission for Animal Aid were: to provide food for wild and domestic animals; to provide funds for routine and emergency veterinarian care for hardship cases; to rehabilitate and return wildlife to its natural habitat as possible; and to promote an understanding of all animal life and humane treatment of all domestic and wild creatures.
To this end, Jack enlisted the aid of several resources to assist with their mission. Doug Baker, a well-known Oregonian newspaper columnist, got interested and helped wherever possible by periodically writing about the issues in his “Baker’s Dozen” column. Jack worked in conjunction with the Oregon Humane Society to assist pets. Being a compassionate animal lover previously, in 1964 he was instrumental in changing the policy of how animals were euthanized, from an inhumane to a more humane method. He also had contacts with the Oregon and US Fish and Wildlife Services to assist with wildlife needing help.
Jack wrote a book “Our Earth as It Is” telling the stories of some of the rescued animals. All the proceeds went to Animal Aid. Jack and Kathryn even went out on abuse cases and, if the owner was cooperative and surrendered the animal, it would receive loving care in a foster or adoptive home. Eventually the Humane Society took over investigation of reported animal abuses. Kathryn noted that she often found that these poor animals rescued from abusive or unhappy situations frequently turned out to be the most wonderful pets, as they seemed to understand and were very loving and grateful to their new guardians.
In April of 1977, Jack’s fans congratulated him for his good works in an Appreciation Day ceremony. Jack was still doing his radio show up to four days before he passed away of emphysema, just 15 days before his 60th birthday in May of 1977. People had discovered where the Hurd’s lived and for years had been dropping pets off outside of their home. When Jack died, he and Kathryn had 42 cats and six dogs. Kathryn cared for them all until they died.
In 1996 Kathryn’s home flooded when the Willamette River overflowed its banks, so she sold the house, took all the animals she had at that time including several chickens, and moved to 20 acres in rural Clackamas County. She now cares for four dogs, one cat, two horses and one goat, all of which found her when they were in dire need of help. We are so grateful for the wonderful organization that Jack and Kathryn created. We are proud to carry on their legacy. When Kathryn learned that Animal Aid was still in existence and that the basic tenets they developed in the 1960’s were still essentially in place, she exclaimed that Jack would be so pleased and proud to know his dream was still alive. We are very proud to be living their dream of rescuing animals in need.