Make some noise for OCCRA

The nonprofit organization known as OCCRA rescues domestic animals, wildlife, and farm animals.

By Jennifer Brennock

I’ve never been a huge animal advocate. I just wasn’t paying much attention, but I recently came to know an organization I would love Portland to recognize.

I’m a grant writer. I am a squeaky wheel to help missions get the grease. In other words, I write proposals to foundations and corporations on behalf of small nonprofits to help them find new funding. It’s fulfilling and interesting work.

One of my current clients is On Call Community Rescue for Animals, or OCCRA. They “give safe rides for second chances” to animals via a team of rescuers and volunteers.

Basically, deep in the night, when the other animal welfare agencies are closed for business, volunteers go out to capture and transport injured, sick, or abandoned animals. Reactive dogs in danger because of circumstance. A litter of kittens found in a dumpster. Horses loose on the freeway. Pigs in neglectful homes without food. Fledgling owls fallen from trees. Ducklings stuck in a drain. OCCRA is trained to rescue all kinds of animals, and the calls never stop.

Have you ever considered what happens to a pet when their person is taken to jail? Or dies? Or is hospitalized? 

Enter force-of-nature Virginia Borden. A woman of seemingly boundless energy and vision, she founded OCCRA seven years ago. When Virginia was a 911 dispatcher, she frequently received reports of sick or injured animals. During off hours, there was simply no resource for first responders to call for an animal in need. So Virginia started OCCRA. 

OCCRA board member Alicia and her dogs.

Now her nonprofit is growing, both in the types and numbers of animals they rescue and the geographic areas they reach. For example, they recently took an overnight trip to Eastern Oregon to work with other agencies in a collaborative rescue of over seventy severely neglected pigs and piglets, helping these animals on their way to rehabilitation and adoption. Giving them a second chance.

Here’s a rescue story, but keep your Kleenex handy. Alicia, an OCCRA board member, told me of a time a rescued dog became a member of her own family. Josie, a Kelpie, was the mom of a litter. Josie had been dropped on the side of the road with her six pups. Alicia and her family took Josie home the day they met her. 

“She put her head in my hand and kept it there all the way home,” Alicia said. 

Josie, an Australian sheepdog, resting safely in Alicia’s home.

Josie became Alicia’s shadow and running buddy, which is unfathomable because of the abuse that Josie had seen before she met Alicia. 

“They showed me the X-ray of her leg, and I can tell you I’m really glad I was not in the same room with whoever hurt her,” Alicia said. 

The X-ray showed that Josie’s femur had been fractured at one time, and it had never been reset. That was why one leg was two inches shorter than the other and why she had a bit of a limp. Her leg had been broken, yet she had never received medical attention. The vet said it was no car accident. Someone had taken a bat or a pipe and broken Josie’s leg. They also found three BBs in her. It is likely that Josie had just limped and painfully put weight on her broken leg until the bone grew back together. Then at some point, Josie became pregnant and was dumped with her puppies. 

“I don’t understand humans,” Alicia said. “She just got ditched. Those rescues–that’s what we do it for.”

The work of OCCRA has touched me, and I hope it will touch you too. Search for them on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Visit and buy a pawprint beanie. Follow their Patreon. Donate to help them buy the safety equipment and the new transport van they need.

Even better, become an OCCRA volunteer and be one of those midnight heroes. Help me to make some noise for them so they can receive support to do this work. 

(All photos courtesy of OCCRA)


Jennifer “JB” Brennock

Jennifer “JB” Brennock lives in Portland with her one-year-old Shepherd-Bloodhound mix, Hank, who keeps insistently growing bigger despite her speaking to him about it several times. If you need a grant writer for your mission-based organization, email her at


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