Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Shelter Seeks Boost In $1M Contest

The most recent dog delivery from Kern County residents Linda Hodges and Joan Dunham totaled 23, for a combined total of rescued pups at 351

By Nao Braverman
Several months ago, the Humane Society of Ventura County on Bryant Street in Ojai was fifth on the list of shelters chosen out of hundreds of contestants nationwide to win a $1 million make-over. Now it has dropped past 50th.
Not bad, considering it is competing with more than 900 other animal shelters, but still too far down the list to qualify for a much-needed shelter remodel.
Just an online comment or two from enough local shelter supporters could put Ventura County’s Humane Society back in the running.
The contest is being held by ZooToo.com, a social networking site for pet lovers to rate and display pet products and services. Supporters can glean points for their shelter of choice by logging onto the web site and casting their vote by reviewing a shelter, posting a comment or engaging in other Zootoo activities. Each activity adds points to the shelter that they chose to support.
The site pledges to give a $1 million remodel to the top 20 shelters that accumulate the most points by the proposed deadline at the end of March.
The Humane Society of Ventura County’s shelter couldn’t be more in need of such a remodel, said shelter director Jolene Hoffman.
“Our kennels need help desperately. The heaters are old and being repaired on a weekly basis. Concrete work needs to be done, we need more fencing and more space,” said Hoffman.
Currently the Humane Society Shelter which survives solely off of donations, with no county state or federal funding, costs $900,000 a year to run, including insurance payroll and general care of animals. But that doesn’t include major repairs and upgrades, said Hoffman. Already the heaters are costing the Humane Society $500 every few weeks.
Increasing space is also near the top of the Humane Society staff’s make-over wish list.
The shelter just took in 23 puppies from Kern County. Since August 2007 Linda Hodges, a Taft resident and dog lover, has been bringing Kern County’s homeless puppies to the Humane Society because Kern County does not have a no-kill shelter of its own. Homeless animals in the area get taken to an animal control center where they are soon euthanized if they aren’t adopted first.
“We normally don’t take in animals from outside the county but sometimes you can’t say no, you just have to help,” said Hoffman.
Hodges praises the staff at Ojai’s shelter. It is her favorite and the most caring and welcoming out of all the shelter facilities where she takes her rescued puppies, she said.
The 23 newcomers are a variety of mixed breeds including what appear to be Labrador and collie mixes, some part Chihuahuas, and even what looks like a dalmatian mix, said Hoffman. All puppies have been vaccinated and should go up for adoption Monday or Tuesday, she said.
Many puppies are expected to be taken in by Ojai families. But as soon as some kennels are vacated more are admitted.
“To get them bigger play areas is the best way to get our puppies stimulated and happy,” said Hoffman. But the only way for them to be able to afford such an expansion to their facility or even just a remodel in the near future would be to win the Zootoo contest.
From being fifth from the top of the list of shelters, the Humane Society dropped to 27 and is currently in the 50s.
For more information on how to increase the Humane Society of Ventura County’s chances to win the remodel, log onto zootoo.com.

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