Shepherding a Legacy

The Susan Michaels Compassion Trust is the legacy of a life well led by an individual whose ultimate passion was the welfare of farm animals. We are honored to ensure that the impact of Susan's life's work carries on and continues to grow through the dedicated work of you, our grantees. Read on to learn more about our trust and the extraordinary woman who founded it.

Our Trust's Mission




Grants for advocacy, alternatives, and rescue

Susan set a specific goal for the trust that would be established in her name, so our mission is best understood through her own words:

"As my final legacy, I want to make this world a better place for food production animals.  It is my intent that the general public be made more aware of the conditions in which factory-farmed animals live and die (primarily egg farm hens, dairy cows and calves, and production turkeys).  I feel that with the proper knowledge, people will strive to change their eating habits."
“I believe my most successful work was imparting what I’d witnessed myself inside an egg farm, at a slaughter auction, or on a dairy farm.  I would gently approach the topic with small groups of ordinary people.  When I described my experiences, they clearly understood how moved I was; they knew that what I saw, smelled, heard – not only touched my heart, but forever, took away a part of my soul.  By appealing to people’s humanity, I feel they will strive to do better.  And the more alternatives we can provide to eating factory farmed animals, the more we will move towards ending the suffering.”

Thank you for helping to fulfill Susan's vision.

Our Exceptional Founder

Passion and Excellence From the Start

Susan Michaels was born with a passion for hard work, community service, and most of all… for creatures great and small.  She set out to make the world a better place and lived an exceptional life.

Born and raised in Chicago, Susan began working on behalf of animals in high school and college, where she organized dog and cat adoptions and food drives. Graduating from the University of Illinois, she pursued a career in television, excelling as an Emmy Award-winning producer, reporter, and TV host in Chicago, St. Louis and Seattle.

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A Voice for Animals Gets Louder

It was on the morning show “Seattle Today” that Susan began using her voice to reach a larger audience to benefit animals.  She co-created the annual “Tuxes & Tails” gala that raised hundreds and thousands of dollars for the King County Humane Society. After leaving television, Susan became a successful business owner, eventually being named Entrepreneur of the Year and landing on the cover of Inc. Magazine.

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Tragedy Drives Change for Good

Then, a seminal event changed the entire direction of Susan’s life.  Pasado the donkey resided at Kelsey Creek Farm outside Seattle, where he touched the lives of countless people with his sweet personality and innocent presence.  One night, three teenage boys broke into his barn and tortured him to death.  That signaled a turning point for Susan.  She sold her business and decided to dedicate her life to animal welfare. Testifying before the state legislature, she helped to pass the “Pasado Law,” making intentional cruelty to animals a felony offense in Washington State.

Susan then went on to co-found Pasado’s Safe Haven, a sanctuary dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of animals in need. The 80-acre farm in Monroe, Washington became the loving home for all sorts of animals …dogs, cats, cows, donkeys, pigs, llamas and goats.  Some of these animals were abused or neglected, others deemed too old and bothersome to care for anymore. At the time, Susan said,

“Pasado’s Safe Haven is a place where animals who have suffered can come and live in peace and happiness.  We rescue everything, small as a kitten, big as a cow.  When some of the animals come in, they’re in such horrible condition that they need 24-hour care.  That’s when you start to understand that animals aren’t that much different than you and me .”

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Pasado's Legacy Becomes Susan's Legacy

Pasado’s facilitated large-scale rescues at puppy mills and investigated cases of animal abuse. During the holidays, the organization distributed pet food to the homeless and less fortunate. Susan held “Sanctuary 101” seminars to educate others on how to start their own rescue organizations. Susan also led tours for families, teaching children to have empathy for all living creatures.

A major achievement was the creation of The Spay Station, a mobile veterinary clinic that travelled to low-income neighborhoods around the region. The Spay Station has been responsible for thousands of spay/neuter surgeries, greatly reducing the number of companion animals going homeless or to shelters.

Susan gained worldwide attention when she was profiled on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Speaking of her work at Pasado’s, Susan told Oprah,

“I’m lucky that I’ve gotten to know so many people who feel a similar passion for animals.  I think we all have to look at the priorities in our lives and think, 'What have I done for the world that we are all inhabiting?' ”

When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, Susan was deeply affected by seeing the footage of animals stranded in the New Orleans floodwaters.  Pasado’s marshalled a rescue team that travelled to Louisiana, rescuing more than 1,200 animals.

In addition to her practical efforts on the ground on behalf of animals, Susan made a point of pursuing long-term legislative change, a special passion that started with the Pasado Law. She lobbied tirelessly for animal protection bills in Washington state and helped enact multiple laws covering companion, wild and farm animals.

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Her Work Carries on Through You

Before her passing in 2018, Susan shared this as her final wish:

“When all is said and done, long after I’m gone, I’d like my Trust to carry on my work of providing a passionate voice on behalf of those who can’t speak for themselves…the animals.”

Thank you to Susan and thank you to you and all the others who work hard to foster the welfare of farm animals.