Friday, January 14, 2011

Blog the Change – Friends Foundation

Kern County, where my furballs and I live, has no shortage of animal issues worthy enough to inspire a blog post. From unacceptably high kill rates at the county shelter (over 18,000 in 2009, the latest year for which we have records), to having a reputation for being a hoarder’s and backyard breeder’s paradise, this is a county desperately in need of more people devoted to helping solve our pet overpopulation issues.

Turns out after shaking my fist a few times, wondering when someone was going to start doing something to help ease the pet overpopulation situation around here, I needed to stop looking anywhere beyond my own mirror. If critter-crazy me wasn’t going to step up, I had no right at all to criticize anyone else. Hate when that happens.

I started small, by writing a column about pets and pet issues in a local community newspaper. From there, I used the column to raise enough money to sponsor a low-cost cat neuter clinic where, in one day, we neutered over 150 cats.

I then decided to take it up a notch, so in January, 2010, I joined the board of Friends of the Kern County Animal Shelters Foundation.

Friends exists to raise funds to cover the cost of items and services that are outside of the County budget. When the shelter needed a new water heater so they can give the pups a bath and get them cleaned up so they are better adoption prospects, Friends raised the money for the purchase and installation of the water heater. Friends volunteers hold off-site adoption events so more dogs find their forever homes; we raised funds to install an off-leash area at the shelter in Lake Isabella so the shelter dogs have a place to exercise and stretch their legs; we provide funds to reduce the cost of adopting pets from the shelter; and last September we held our first low-cost spay-neuter clinic in Lamont, where over four dozen companion animals were altered. In December, when a terrible case of animal cruelty was discovered, Friends raised the funds to cover the cost of the care and rehabilitation of Lacey with enough donations to spare that we were able to establish an Emergency Medical Fund so we may provide additional assistance in the future for other cases of abuse or neglect.

Friends is an all-volunteer group. Our board consists of eight people, all of whom have full-time jobs, families and pets of our own, but who are committed to doing what we can to reduce the number of homeless pets being killed in our shelter system through increased adoptions, low-cost spay/neuter programs and education.

What we need most (besides large piles of money to start a low-cost spay/neuter clinic), are more willing hands to help us with our mission. You don’t need special skills or an advanced degree to help (though we won’t turn you away if you do), just a desire to work towards positive change for companion animals. Volunteers can do everything from taking photos at our events, to helping sweet-talk businesses into donating prizes for our fundraisers, to helping staff booths at fundraising events. We have so many things we’d love to accomplish in the coming year, but need more hands to make it happen.

Pet lovers in Kern County, please consider giving a little of your time to Friends. The projects we work on may not seem glamorous or all that high-profile, but we make a real, actual difference in the lives of companion animals in our community. Head over to the Friends website and download our volunteer guidelines and application.

Help be the change you wish to see in the world.  

Check out some of the other folks hoping to change the world:

28 comments:

Kim Clune said...

Thanks for taking part in Blog the Change. And that seems like the least of what you do. Wow! What an inspiration!

My husband was a founding member and has run the dog program for our local rescue for roughly 15 years. Now we've got another project in the works together. I don't have to tell you how rewarding it is to get involved and make the difference.

I've heard people say that they couldn't get involved because seeing dogs in rough shape is too sad. That never made sense to me. There is far more sadness for me when doing nothing to change that fact. And the joy of success can't compare.

I hope people are inspired by what you wrote. Truly, I do.

Kim
BtC4animals.com

Vicky said...

I completely understand, Kim. the first time I helped on a cat neuter clinic I was flying high for hours afterward. If you want to be good at the whole "helping animals" thing, you need to focus on the successes you can achieve. When they happen, it's magical.

Thanks for the kind words.

Hilary said...

So great to hear about Friends! What a wonderful endeavor. I'm glad to hear that you're so involved; volunteering is rough, but worth it.

Shauna (Fido and Wino) said...

It is amazing that you are doing so much! Thank you for all that you do!

Kenzo said...

Thanks for sharing this inspiring story. Volunteers are awesome, they MAKE the change. Sometimes fighting against the odds. You deserve all the support we can muster.

Edie said...

Good for you for getting involved in a cause you care about, and in such a committed way. I'm still in the working towards doing more phase, so you're an inspiration for me to get off my duff.

Sugar the Golden Retriever said...

Woof! Woof! I'm Sugar ... visiting you for the first time from SPBH. Looking forward to your visit to my blog n be bloggie friends.
Golden Thanks for sharing your volunteer endeavors ... it is wonderful. Happy BLOG HOP Weekend. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

Pamela said...

Very inspiring story. You're right that Friends groups can make such a big difference. Staff can't do it alone. You've definitely gotten me thinking....

Banjo and Millie said...

Wow, it is so inspiring to hear how you started at square one and have accomplished so much! I can relate to where you started, because I think it's where I am currently! I often feel so disheartened and angry when it seems no one wants to step to help, but then I realize after looking in the mirror that if someone like myself who is so crazy for dogs isn't doing more, why would someone else? That look in the mirror can be tough. It's up to me to get started. Thank you for sharing!

Vicky said...

Thank you so much for your positive thoughts! I can tell you that every person on the Friends board does incredible things and gives a great deal of their time to try and promote positive change for companion animals. All of us can't do everything, but we can each do something to make our world a better place. Every action we take, no matter how small, helps move us to a more compassionate world.

Kyla said...

Good luck raising the money for a spay/neuter clinic! One of the most frustrating things for me as a foster parent is that in Boulder, there hasn't been anywhere affordable for us to take our foster animals for spay/neuter. Vets will give us a discount, but once, even with the discount, we were charged over $300 for a NEUTER! I was appalled. Luckily, Longmont Humane Society recently opened (I think) a spay/neuter clinic, where I can get the same procedure for less than $90. Big help. Hope you can do the same for your community!

Vicky said...

We have the same problem here, Kyla. Many veterinarians in the area consider low-cost options competition so they are not as supportive as we would hope. Nonetheless, we will continue to work towards making a positive change. Nothing will happen otherwise.

Pup Fan said...

So inspired by your post - you are amazing! Thanks for everything you do.

Kristy@MyPetSavings.com said...

What a great Blog the Change post. It is inspiring how you just stopped waiting for something to happen, and just took action into your own hands. That's very impressive. Also, I'm from Tulare County, right next to Kern County. I'm assuming you live in Bakersfield? :) Anyway, great post and contribution.

Have a great weekend!

Kristy
http://www.mypetsavings.com

Lavi said...

I really admire how you stepped up and tried to make a difference. Good luck to Friends and I hope more people will join your foundation.

Vicky said...

Thanks, all!

Kristy, I am in Bakersfield. Being in Tulare County, I'm sure you can relate to the needs of companion animals in the Valley.

Oskar said...

Very inspiring post! Thanks for all you do.

Nubbin wiggles,
Oskar

Kristine said...

This sounds like an excellent program and foundation. Good on you for being brave enough to do something yourself and take steps to help the animals in your area. No act is small, I believe, 150 cats is a pretty bog deal!

You have inspired me to do more. I've been thinking for a long time about volunteering at my shelter but there is always an excuse. It's too hard to get to, I don't have enough time, etc. etc. But if I come up with all these reasons not to, and I actually care, what about everyone else? How can I expect others to do what I am unwilling? So thanks. :-)

Vicky said...

Kristine, I am sure your shelter would appreciate anything you are willing to do, from raising donations to benefit them to working in the shelter itself. Good luck in your endeavors.

CindyLu's Muse said...

You are a shining example of just how much one person can accomplish when they choose to "do something about it" - inspirational!
Wow! You've got a lot to work with in your area; sounds like you're up to the task, though. Best wishes on the fundraising and gathering support of volunteers!

Trixie, Lily, and Sammy-Joe said...

Wow! You really are a role model for other humans who want to change things but don't think they can. Look how much you changed... just by starting a column in the paper! Thats awesome!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Wow, this is an amazing thing you are involved with. it's great to see people step up and try and make a differenct concerning the things they are care about. I definitely do what I can in the sanme regard. Good job!

I have info about an easy Cutest Pet Contest if you want to hop over to my blog!


Lauren

Chandra said...

Vicky, great "Blog the Change" post! I've read a bit about the overwhelming need in Kern County. I applaud your efforts and the work of "Friends." I moved to Portland, OR last year and began volunteering at the Oregon Humane Society, which is an amazing organization. At least once a month OHS takes in "Second Chance" dogs from Merced.

My family lives in San Diego and the next time I make the Portland to southern California drive, I will check with "Friends" for volunteer opportunities that I could drop into for a day or two.

Thanks for all you do!
-Chandra at Daley's Dog Years

Vicky said...

Thanks everyone! I try, but I have to give credit to the folks at the paper who gave me a chance with the pet column and allowed me to run the donation drive for the neuter clinic. Then more credit to the people who started Friends. I joined up and do what I can, but there are a lot of people who were there along the way.

Go forth and do something good!

Karen Friesecke said...

After the very cranky post that I wrote, it is quite refreshing to see the difference that you made! Keep on truckin'!!

AngelPups said...

Excellent post! I volunteer at a local shelter and am amazed at all they do for the communities they serve...I am grateful for the experience and encourage everyone to consider giving even a little of your time to help out! God Bless~
Kelly & Crew
angelpupscreations.blogspot.com

Kolchak Puggle said...

Great post! Way to go leveraging your column into a way to help the animals! You're an inspiration!

Nicole, trainpetdog affiliate earnings researcher said...

I salute your job. I know it is not easy. My friend once worked at a shelter and I did see the needed devotion it requires.

 

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