Gifts from Donor-Advisors help animal shelter expansion

Connecting Homes & Hearts

In August 2020, up a long winding road in a remote part of the Santa Cruz mountains, a concerned neighbor called and reported that seven horses and a donkey were in danger. But these animals had been in danger long before the CZU fires started raging. Some were starving, some had untreated wounds and injuries, and some had fungal infections. All had overgrown feet which impeded their movements or immobilized them depending on the severity. These animals needed evacuation not only from the fires but from horrible neglect.

The Equine Evacuation Team of Santa Cruz County--trained volunteers who partner with the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter (SCCAS) ran into the fire zone and rescued them. Two of the horses were in such bad condition they couldn’t walk to be loaded in the trailer for transport, but Dakota the paint horse, Jack the gelding, Cinny the medicine hat paint, Fuego the large bay, Hope the appaloosa, and Cezur the donkey made it out, were safely housed at the Animal Shelter and the Fairgrounds, and received extensive veterinary care. All but Dakota, who was too ill to recover, thrived under care, regaining their health and overcoming fear and behavioral challenges to become wonderful companions.

Because that’s what the staff at SCCAS do—they run into hard situations and rescue animals. Then they shelter and heal animals of all sizes until they can find loving homes. Beyond these municipally funded core services of rescue, protection, and sheltering, SCCAS offers proactive services like free/low cost spay/neutering, community outreach, humane education, and behavior training which is funded by community donations.

Jack before & after

Heart Connections

Through the work of SCCAS and its volunteers, thousands of animals such as cats, dogs, birds, hamsters, rabbits, fish, snakes, goats, and chickens have connected with new homes and become beloved companions for their humans.

We understand this work of connections, because that’s what we do too. Our knowledge of local nonprofits like SCCAS Foundation and county-wide issues allows us to help connect people with causes or organizations that align with their passions. Recently, we helped connect $1.5 million in anonymous donations to SCCAS for their campus expansion project. We also are the proud home of an endowed fund for the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter, started by donors who want to make sure the shelter continues this important work in the future.

Needless to say, the shelter’s general manager Melanie Sobel was gobsmacked. “I am so thrilled and thankful,” she says. “The Community Foundation really understands the complexity of our work and then explains it so clearly to the donors they support.”

Education & Prevention

Melanie says that a lot of people are hesitant to donate to a government agency thinking that tax dollars cover all the work they do. But it’s the donation-fueled proactive programs and services that improve the lives of animals and their humans, hopefully preventing future instances of neglect and suffering. “There are so many people who can’t afford basic health care for themselves, let alone their pets,” she says. “Animals can suffer terribly from lack of dental care, wounds and injuries often go untreated, and even common things like foxtails left in ears can be really damaging. People just need assistance.”

Phase I of the expansion project, to expand and improve the Shelter’s main building, is fully funded and construction begins this summer. Recent donations from Community Foundation Donor-Advisor Fund holders make a significant dent in the funds needed for phase II, to expand and remodel the Shelter Annex into a functional multi-use space that will encompass a low-cost community clinic and more room for public education programs.

“We don’t want to just build more kennels,” says Melanie. Instead, SCCAS is seeking to minimize the number of animals needing housing and shelter in the first place. “There will never be enough homes for all of the animals that come to us unless we can reduce the need for rescue.”

From Horses to Cats

The horses Jack, Cinny, Fuego, Hope, and Cezur the donkey have all found loving forever homes and are healthy and thriving. “They are really living their best lives now,” says Melanie.

Fuego and friend

But the work continues. Just last week, 47 cats and kittens were rescued from an RV in Santa Cruz County and now the job of rehabilitation and finding them safe homes begins. But Melanie is sanguine about it, “When you are helping animals, you are helping people too. There is a direct correlation between people’s happiness and their relationship with an animal companion. We’re all connected.”

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