How long have you been involved with animal rescue?
All my life.
How did you get involved with animal rescue?
My Aunt Patti fed and trapped feral cats in Palm Springs while I was growing up. As a proud member of the residential building industry for over 20 years, in almost every building site from Pinole to Rocklin to Fairfield to Fremont, animals were dumped. Some drywall contractors thought it was funny to drywall cats into the walls. I knew someday I wanted to make a difference in the live of the innocents.
Tell us about your organization.
The mission of Spay Neuter imperative Project California (SNiP CA) is to provide the nonlethal solution to the homeless, abandoned, and feral animal populations so that euthanasia is no longer an acceptable means of population control. The mission will be accomplished through high efficiency, low- and no-cost spay and neuter clinics throughout California. In addition, SNiP CA will educate and advocate breaking the cycle of abuse of animals and people in underserved areas of California.
What is the biggest challenge facing your organization right now?
Over 2,600 Vallejo companion animals were euthanized in 2013 — the cost to taxpayers was approximately $200 per animal; that’s $520,000 in one year. Less fortunate are those animals abandoned on the streets, or even killed by their own families. A young man who volunteers at our thrift store says that his neighbor just drowns the puppies and kittens in the bathtub. Recently, I was told that residents are disposing of animals in the trash — dead and alive.
If you’re not familiar with Vallejo, it’s very low income, so most residents can’t afford veterinary costs, including spay and neuter. For the last few years, Vallejo has been among the top five communities in California for people losing their homes. As a result, there are now thousands of un-spayed and un-neutered animals, abandoned animals, and homeless people with animals they can’t afford to fix. Most of the animals from Vallejo will end up at our high-kill shelter in Fairfield. SF/SPCA statistics show euthanasia rates for unwanted animals in Solano County are the highest among eight Bay Area counties. Vallejo is their biggest contributor. We need money for veterinary care beyond spay and neuter — most of the feral cats in Vallejo have upper respiratory and eye infections, and some dogs have skin issues and even broken limbs.
Is the city of Vallejo helping you?
Yes. We are receiving $165,000 for spay and neuter through participatory budgeting. Vallejo has fallen on hard times, but it is extremely historic. (Mare Island was named because General Vallejo’s mare swam to the island.) Of course, the Naval Station was here for many years and employed thousands of military and civilians.
Can we “adopt our way” out of overpopulation, as some people believe, or is spaying and neutering the only answer?
Education is first and foremost. Most people have no idea that so many animals are being destroyed in the shelter. After all, it’s called a “shelter.” Spay and neuter is the only way to solve the problem. In Vallejo, we need money to spay and neuter the pets for owners who can’t afford it, who don’t have a vehicle, who are homeless, or who just don’t want to spend the money themselves. Those who care must do the work and spend the money to stop this horrendous situation. Finding foster homes and holding adoption events are third and fourth in importance.
Is there any legislation, either in California or nationwide, that you would like to see enacted to help prevent animal overpopulation?
I would like to see the same law they have in San Mateo County and Los Angeles County — you must have a license to breed your pet. Shelters are full, rescue groups are full, foster homes are desperately needed, and everyone is up to their necks in animals. Vallejo desperately needs help.
Tell us about your thrift store and how people can shop there or donate items to support your mission.
Our thrift shop is called Wags & Whiskers Thrift for SNiP and is located at 1 Benicia Road, Vallejo, CA 94590. The phone number is 707-731-1367. We’re currently open noon to 6 p.m. You can find our more by calling us or by visiting www.facebook.com/WagsThrift. We sell higher-end boutique items. Janie, owner of San Francisco Estate Sales, asks her clients to donate the leftover of the estate sales to us, and we have received some incredible items. More items are needed every day. Because of the location, shoppers can really get a bang for their buck, but in turn, we need many items to keep the doors open.
Do you have a great success story you’d like to share about an animal you’ve helped?
Since Wags opened a year ago, people have dumped or surrendered numerous animals to us. One day, a friend of a volunteer called and asked if we could help her find a home for a couple of feral kittens she had found. I said, “Sure.” Then I called my friend, Carol, who was looking for a couple of kittens to keep her horse company.
What are the upcoming events for SNiP CA?
Our next fundraiser is an eBay auction, beginning Oct. 13, 2014. Items of value over $200 would be appreciated ASAP. We are trying to raise funds to offer free spay and neuter operations to the residents of Vallejo.