(The Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter's newly formed charitable foundation helps to pay for various programs, including the shelter's annual Summer Kids Camp. Contributed photo)
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY — The Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter (SCCAS) has taken a new step in its mission to support the county’s neediest animals.
Earlier this year, the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter Foundation was formed, with the goal of raising charitable dollars for the shelter’s expenses, including everything from spay/neuter procedures to its various educational programs.
The foundation was created after a previous organization was closed down after decades of supporting SCCAS.
“We wanted to resurrect it in some way,” said Ben Winkleblack, president of the board of directors for the new foundation. “We believe in what the shelter is doing, and in our opinion, supporting them is incredibly beneficial to the community.”
SCCAS is the county’s sole full-service, “open-door” shelter, meaning it will take in any animal that comes through its doors, regardless of its condition, in hopes of rehabilitation and placement in a new home. The shelter’s two locations, in Watsonville and Santa Cruz, see thousands of animals pass through its doors every year.
While municipal funding assists with services such as licensing, rabies vaccines and certain housing for domesticated animals, SCCAS is dependent on donations for a number of its most important programs, Winkleblack said.
“We leave it up to the shelter to identify gaps in funding,” he said. “They know best what is most important for the animals. That’s where we come in.”
A main focus for the foundation in its first year is supporting the shelter’s behavior training courses and humane education programs.
“[SCCAS] is truly a safety net for this county’s animals,” he said. “But it also serves to educate people about how to care for them.”
Many programs and classes at the shelter are geared toward youth, which Winkleblack noted is an extremely important focus.
“We want to create a generation of humane pet owners,” he said. “In turn, there will be less issues, and the needs of shelters will diminish.”
There are currently four members on the foundation’s board of directors and a fifth may soon be added. As for how others who are interested can help, Winkleblack said that donations are always welcome — especially monetary.
“Anything you can give, we’re grateful,” he said. “Every little bit counts for these animals.”
For information and to donate, visit scanimalshelter.org.