Critters rule in this wild kingdom – Photo gallery included
Senior staff writer
A hummingbird’s wings buzz like a bumblebee 3 feet from Sherre Beisel’s ear.
At her feet on her western Nevada County back porch are Bill and Hillary ” two wild turkeys who walk right up to you ” Gilda the Cat, Sable the German Shepherd, and two chickens, Mary Kate and Ashley, all getting along together.
The scene is animal kingdom harmonious, something out of Dr. Doolittle, with hawks flying above; horses, mules and goats in the barn up the hill; and Chinese chickens fluttering about.
And then Salsa the Chihuahua arrives to announce who is boss with a raucous yap, runs Bill off the back porch ” one equipped with animal ramps instead of steps ” and proudly sticks out her chest.
“She does the same thing to the horses,” Sherre said.
The menagerie has come to Beisel and her husband, Don Beisel, in a variety of ways. The turkeys walked in, cats were adopted from the county shelter, and other critters found a home with the Beisels because people know when it comes to animals, Sherre can’t say no.
But the intense love of Sherre’s animal-filled life is the ones who need to be rescued.
As a certified member of Emergency Animal Rescue Service, or EARS, Sherre travels about the state picking up unwanted animals and finding them homes.
Many times, that means her home.
“I’m not a crazy cat lady,” said Sherre, who has rescued cats and other animals from people who keep large numbers but abuse or neglect them. “In animal rescue, there’s nothing glamorous about it. Dog crap is not pleasant.”
Sherre said she is one of many people in Nevada County who have devoted themselves to the animal-rescue world. Whenever she meets a new one, “It’s like being with old friends. You finish each other sentences,” Sherre said. “We say ‘Don’t license the dogs, license the owners.’
“We don’t try to make them (animals) fit into our world, we try to fit into theirs, unless it’s an obedience legal thing.”
Sherre, 65, and a former business manager in the entertainment industry, has loved animals unabashedly since childhood. Don said “the boss,” got him into animals.
“I just try to help out,” said Don, 72, and retired from the Air Force. “It keeps you busy.”
Don is not sure if he’s ever met anyone as close to animals as his wife, “But some of her friends are about the same. She has been slowing down” with the adoptions. “Sometimes it gets to her, keeping up with them all.”
One special case is Buttercup, a frail cat born with reversed back legs.
“She’d have spina bifida if she was a person,” Sherre said. “Her spine is malformed in the rear,” but now she has a nurturing home.
Counting the aforementioned menagerie, there are also three mules, feral cats, one loud rooster and several goats, in total about 50 animals on the acreage, “but we don’t count,” Sherre said.
The animals are protected by fencing, but there are bobcats and coyotes in the area. The dogs help keep them out, and then there are the secret weapons.
“No predator in his right mind would go up against those mules,” Sherre said. “Once in a while we lose a chicken. Mother Nature is not always beautiful.”
Taking care of the animals is costly, but the Beisels don’t mind. They prefer staying on the land and tending to the flock as opposed to taking cruises.
They also say having animals is a major responsibility.
“People need to understand they’re adding a family member, and it may live 15 years,” Sherre said about taking an animal in. “You have to have them fixed” (spayed or neutered) and protected from diseases.
Beyond the responsibility, “It’s really about the animals and what they give you,” Sherre said. “Animals just give and give and give.”
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