Thursday, November 17, 2011
Animal Friends Rescue Project
Year Founded: 1998
Staff: 11 paid, 401 volunteers
The Big Idea: More than 6,000 dogs and cats were euthanized in Monterey County last year. AFRP wants to save our furry friends’ lives, which sho’ nuf fits the Big Idea bill. The nonprofit created the Life Link Transport program because there are more dogs in local shelters than foster homes and financial resources available to bring the pups into AFRP’s adoption program. It needs community support to keep it going. AFRP’s Life Link Transport programs connects the shelter dogs with other rescues throughout Northern California, Oregon and Washington, which then adopt them out to loving families. It’s cost effective – it costs about $15 to transport a dog to another rescue – and frees up space for more animals at Monterey County shelters. Funds raised will help cover gas, maintenance and insurance for the two transport vans, operated by volunteer drivers. And, AFRP says, it saves 3,000 animals a year: 1,500 dogs transported to safety with other rescue groups, making room at local shelters for another 1,500 pups.
A Dog’s Life: “Our program is often the last chance for the shy dogs, the pregnant or those at-risk just for lack of available space.”
Institute for Canine Studies
Year Founded: 2007
Staff: 79 volunteers
The Big Idea: The wait for a trained service dog can reach five years. ICS wants to shorten that wait – and provide a place for people to learn all sorts of dog training, from obedience and responsible ownership to competitions – by building a first-of-its-kind campus on 21 acres on the former Fort Ord, land leased from the city of Marina. In addition to moving through the site development review and permitting process, ICS needs community funds to build offices and offer workshops in temporary facilities, beginning with a class on dog park safety. It will improve a fenced area of the site, turning it into an approximation of a small urban dog park; install donated modular units to use as classrooms and office space; and clear existing informal trails throughout the site and create a pathway system to use for teaching dog-handling etiquette. Additionally, the currently all-volunteer nonprofit will begin hiring paid staff.
Helping Dogs Help People: “Data suggests 78,000 people in Monterey County are dealing with disabilities. About 80,000 dogs live in Monterey County, but probably fewer than 100 are trained service dogs. ICS will benefit the entire community by improving this imbalance.”
Peace of Mind Dog Rescue
Year Founded: 2009
Staff: 150 volunteers
The Big Idea: Every week, Peace of Mind Dog Rescue receives calls from people who are ill, in the hospital or entering a nursing home, or who have lost their jobs and their homes and need help, temporarily or permanently, caring for their pets. The nonprofit’s asking for help with its Helping Paw program that keeps pets and their people together. It gives financial and physical support – dog walking, vet care, food and temporary foster care, for example – to pet owners in a short-term hospital stay. And when a temporary fix can’t be found, Peace of Mind Dog Rescue helps find new homes for the canine companions. All of this helps keeps doggies out of shelters. The group has rescued 215 dogs and provided Helping Paw Support to 30 people between October 2010 and June 30, 2011.
Puppy Love: “This is a most difficult chapter of my life, more like a bad dream. People like you are what have helped me get up in the morning. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Save the Whales
Year Founded: 1977
Staff: 6 paid, 25 volunteers
The Big Idea: To date, Save the Whales has educated some 288,000 students with hands-on creek water monitoring, saved 10,000 endangered marine mammals from death via ship-shock testing and is working to save the vaquita porpoise, the most endangered cetacean, with partner organizations. In 2012, the nonprofit wants to “give HOPE to the ocean.” Its new project will fund HOPE’s developmentally disabled adults outreach efforts, including marking city storm drains with dolphin and fish decals reminding citizens (in English and Spanish) “No Dumping Flows to Bay.” How do storm drains help – or hurt – the whales? They are one of the leading causes of ocean pollution. Antifreeze, motor oil, kitty litter, dog poo and soap from washing the car that gets dumped into the street where it washes into storm drains flows into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Help Save the Whales do its job – and help save the oceans.
Hope for the Future: “Adults would learn that human actions on land can harm the ocean and that their actions make a big difference.”
SPCA for Monterey County
Year Founded: 1905
Staff: 57 paid, 250 volunteers
The Big Idea: When it comes to kids and dogs, a little time and affection works wonders. SPCA’s Take the Lead program helps both two – and four-legged friends on the fringe, pairing shelter dogs that need behavior training with students at Washington Middle School in Salinas who are at-risk for getting involved in gangs or underperforming in the classroom. Each session, five students act as trainers for five good-tempered-but-lacking-manners shelter dogs. For five weeks, the children teach their dogs basic skills – sit, stay and come – and provide one-on-one interactions. The dogs learn skills that help them stay in adopted homes, and the kids learn leadership and communication by teaching unsocialized dogs how to be good canine citizens through positive reinforcement, important life lessons all around.
Rescue Dogs: “If it weren’t for Take the Lead and the animals and what I experienced, I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be going to college. There is no way on earth.” – Luis Macias, former Probation Center resident, Take the Lead participant and current SPCA staff member.
TROTT (Training For Racehorses off the Track)
Year Founded: 2009
Staff: 25 volunteers
The Big Idea: Last year, TROTT’s Big Idea aired on national TV: The Today Show featured the group, which takes racehorses off the track and into a rehabilitative training program. This year, TROTT wants to fully fund its monthly expenses, pay for needed surgeries and vet bills and take in more horses – and help its dedicated volunteers sleep better at night without worrying about the feed bills. In addition to rescuing and training unwanted racehorses – and simply bringing awareness to their plight – TROTT also provides community service hours for Monterey County youth, who, along with other local folks, get a chance to interact with the horses at the Stonepine training programs while the nonprofit trains them and finds the ex-racehorses new homes.
Equine Equity: “We endeavor to stop young horses from disappearing into at-risk situations from which they must be rescued later. By taking them before they are traumatized, we are able to provide horses for everyone, from young girls getting their first horse to seasoned sport-horse enthusiasts.”
Ventana Wildlife Society
Year Founded: 1982
Staff: 11 paid, 20 volunteers
The Big Idea: Ventana Wildlife Society biologists recently discovered the presence of DDT in free-flying condors. The pesticide, banned in the 1970s, causes eggshell thinning in birds. Condors ingest the toxin from eating dead California Sea Lions, the birds’ preferred food. Because of this, the eggs laid by wild condors in Big Sur are often too thin to successfully hatch without human assistance. Enter the Condor Baby Boomer Project, a plan hatched by the Ventana Wildlife Society to help restore the population. Condor eggshells are expected to improve over time, but in the near term biologists need to cleverly switch wild-laid eggs with viable ones laid in captivity, and help baby condors hatch in the incubator. Ventana Wildlife Society is the only nonprofit in Monterey County permitted to do this work.
Taking Flight: “For many, simply knowing that condors are making a comeback to the wild is enlightening and uplifting. The condor’s presence in the wild also helps with the conservation of other species of animals through land protection and education. The environment, and the balance of life, is more whole with the condor regaining its place in the wild.”