Gallery: SC Dana Point Animal Shelter [3 Images] Click any image to expand.
by Maggie Zeibak
Most animal lovers know that puppy eyes melt our hearts, while soft kitten mewls and first attempts at purring bring smiles and happiness. But not every animal is fortunate enough to have landed a family who adores him, providing every comfort and granting the liberty of becoming one of the pack, joining a snug grouping on the bed.
No, there are the four-legged creatures, some fugitives from neglect, who end up in a shelter, temporarily, awaiting their forever home. And that’s when the non-profit Pet Project Foundation (PPF) army marches in.
Formed over 30-years-ago, merging with animal welfare groups ARF and FOSCA, this charitable organization supports the San Clemente/Dana Point shelter and has over 2,500 animals pass through its doors each year. No adoptable animal is euthanized, unlike other areas in Orange County, and they provide food, housing, exercise, medical care and love for homeless animals until they are re-united with their owners, or permanent loving homes are found. You can imagine that this costs money.
Heading up the PPF is President Kay Lehmacher whose fund raising skills are legendary. Tirelessly arranging events she manages to raise donations for the spaying/neutering program, capital improvements to the shelter facility, food and adoption costs, to mention a few.
“As the fundraising arm of the shelter we need to make sure it remains Pro-Humane, so the PPF has to raise thousands of dollars every year,” she shared. “We pay for all medical needs, surgeries, shots, spay/neuter and food along with everyday necessities. Also, we have a trainer for those dogs that need to learn social manners in readiness to go out in the community.”
Dedicated volunteers smother them with affection and provide needed exercise as well as performing other duties around the shelter. In the office or helping at special events such as the Wag-A-Thon and Festival of Whales (information posted on the website), you can be sure they lavish fuss-fests whenever they can. There is always a great need for reliable help, so if you are over 18 check out the opportunities – training is provided and you really shouldn’t worry about wanting to take every resident home.
Lehmacher, went on to say, “Over the past year we have been fortunate to raise enough money to replace the shelter awnings that were damaged by winds for a second time. This time we have a permanent structure over the kennels to keep the animals cool, protect them from rain and enable them to go outside without being open to the elements. San Clemente and Dana Point residents are lucky to have a Pro-Humane shelter and we have saved many, many lives over the years. Pet Project Foundation would love to be able to make sure for years to come that it stays that way, but we can only do that with help. Please know that all donations, large or small, every penny is really appreciated and desperately needed. Along with Sally Silva, Chairperson, we sincerely thank you.”
Adopting a pet seems easy enough, the website shows photos of the shelter residents and you’d think it was a case of calling up saying, “I’ll take her!” But adoption should never be a whim of fancy or an emotional decision, this bundle of joy is going to be a part of your family.
Shelter staff goes to great lengths to ensure that pet and parents are well-matched, meeting all family members before approval is given. Some animals aren’t good with different dogs and others, large and in-charge, are unused to children. Pure-bred animals are often taken by that particular breed’s rescue organization to preserve the pedigree, and you may find that the animal you want has already been adopted. Just because an animal ends up at the Animal Shelter doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with them – they just need a second chance. And finally the shelter does not work on a first-come, first-served basis – all applications are taken into consideration to make sure the animal is placed in the best environment possible, which in turn, will be a happy ending for both the animal and the family.
Feral cats, particularly in Dana Point Harbor, have periodically been trapped as part of a program, brought to the shelter for spaying/neutering then released back to their habitat without fear of increasing the population. Whenever an injured animal, rabbit, desert tortoise, hamster and bird are brought in they are immediately taken for veterinarian care.
There’s no doubt, That the shelter staff and the Pet Project Foundation provides our community with a valuable service, one that has significantly contributed to our lifestyle. Perhaps a new BFF awaits you there this year, and one of the best things you can do is start your search at the shelter … and if you can, plan to help by supporting the Foundation financially or otherwise.
Visit the shelter’s website:
or call them at (949)595-8899