Local animal agencies are reporting an uptick in pet adoptions and fosters as people are trying to fill a void during the coronavirus pandemic. That's good news.
However, shortly after it was announced the Mojave Animal Shelter would not reopen following Gov. Gavin Newsom's statewide lockdown orders in March, another local pet agency will fall away after 25 years of operation.
"I am really having bad withdrawals with THS closing. I have done this the entire 22 years I have lived here. Raised my kids and was a kid foster mom in the early years, too, and had them involved with fostering the animals," said Kate Lueder, president of Tehachapi Humane Society.
Founded by Robin Freckman, THS will close its doors effective Dec. 31. The goal of THS was to prevent animal cruelty and reduce pet overpopulation by providing assistance with the cost of spay or neuter surgery. In addition, it provided pet food assistance to the community, operated a lost and found line, and provided assistance for veterinary services, among other things.
According to Lueder, two main factors resulted in the need for THS to dissolve: lack of volunteers to do fundraisers and no new volunteers for original members to pass on the baton.
Other than fundraisers, all monies came from private donations.
"On a personal level, I am very sad to see Tehachapi Humane Society go. I have worked with them for a long time — since about 2003," said Gina Christopher, chief financial officer and treasurer of Have a Heart Humane Society, which also operates in Tehachapi.
Christopher went on to say that Freckman, Lueder and all THS volunteers have, throughout the years, maintained a well-organized operation.
"They never really made a big splash like some rescues," Christopher said. "They just quietly plugged along in controlling pet overpopulation."
Have a Heart will continue in its mission to provide spay and neuter clinics and help find homes for homeless pets.
"We will always do what we can," Christopher said.
Christopher also operates Rescued Treasures Resale Store, located at 1121 W. Valley Blvd., Suite B, and serves on the Kern County Animal Services Advisory Commission Board. She can be reached by calling 822-5683. Rescued Treasures is open for COVID hours, Thursdays through Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit haveahearthumanesociety.org.
Meanwhile, the Kern County Animal Services shelter in Bakersfield is hosting a Holiday Giving Campaign to help shelter pets in need this season. For $20, the public can adopt a shelter dog or $5 for a shelter cat this holiday season. The shelter is also in need of foster families, volunteers and donations. Call 868-7100.
"This is terrible news. I know first hand the incredible work THS has done over the years for Kern's animals. Like many other entities, the pandemic has done a number to our budget," said Nick Cullen, director of Kern County Animal Services. "We've been forced to significantly reduce many of our services just to meet those cuts without laying off staff that would result in substandard care to shelter animals."
Cullen went on to say that Kern County Animal Services will continue to offer two spay and neuter programs: the Low Income Spay/Neuter Voucher Program and the Save The Pitties Program. The Low Income Voucher is available to all unincorporated Kern County residents. There is a $20 copay involved, and a simple income verification that is done, before a voucher is issued to cover the entire cost of the surgery at participating veterinarians. The Save The Pitties Vouchers is a zero copay voucher that covers the cost of a spay/neuter surgery at participating vets for any pit bull-type dog.
Cullen said Animal Services also offers a Pet Food Safety Net Program at no cost for short-term supplies of dog and cat food to county residents. Food is given out on Wednesdays and Sundays, from 8 a.m. until noon at 3951 Fruitvale Ave., in Bakersfield.
"We have worked close with Kate and Nadine (Neide Franzen, voucher coordinator) over the years," said Aleshia Ripoli-Culpepper, who has been of volunteer of Save Tehachapi Orphaned Pets (STOP) for more than 10 years, and served as president for the past two years. "It's going to be a great loss to our community because they have done so much for Tehachapi and the surrounding rural areas with financial assistance and giving out dog food, keeping lost animals found and with the microchip checks."
STOP assists pet owners with relocation services should they need to surrender their animals. In addition, STOP takes in shelter animals to be adopted and works with other rescue organizations to assist in the removal of animals at risk.
According to Ripoli-Culpepper, STOP can occasionally help pet owners with the cost of veterinary care.
"We rely solely on the donations of people and grants when we apply for those," Ripoli-Culpepper said.
To make a donation, visit stoprescue.org and select the donation button or visit the Amazon wish list.
STOP is also seeking individuals to foster rescues.
With the closing of THS, STOP will have one line open (823-4100, option 1) of its call tree for lost and found animals and general questions.
Said Lueder, "I am so grateful to STOP for giving me that line, so I can still feel like I am helping the animals."