In an achievement that even surprised the staff, Animal Outreach of the Mother Lode proudly announced they came in third in a nationwide competition to adopt out the most pets.
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The $100,000 contest, sponsored by the ASPCA and Rachael Ray, challenged animal welfare organizations across the country to adopt out as many animals as possible over a three-month period.
Animal Outreach ended up adopting out 1,714 animals from August through October.
That win earned the agency $18,000 in prize money, including $5,000 for meeting their “lives saved” goal of 300 more placements than last year during the contest period; $10,000 for being “most improved” by increasing adoptions by 1,153; a $2,000 prize for their cat — Kowanki — winning the photo contest; and a $1,000 educational grant.
They have since received an additional $1,000 grant from Wells Fargo, which will go towards their operations. The agency runs on donations, clinic fees, and adoption fees only. They receive no government funding.
By the end of the year, they estimate they will have adopted out over 3,000 animals including 2,500 cats and 450 dogs. “That’s lives saved,” said Executive Director Maggie Killackey.
Kathy Anderson, who is the community outreach and operations manager, said 140 organizations entered the contest. That number was winnowed down to 50 after people across the country were asked to vote for their favorite agency. El Dorado County residents were such enthusiastic voters that Animal Outreach came in 15th in the national voting and was one of only seven California organizations to make the cut.
The agency operates as a rescue center for animals that would otherwise be euthanized. Besides adopting out local pets without homes, they also coordinate and accept animals from other areas with high euthanasia rates such as Oakdale, Sacramento, Folsom, Merced, and Stanislaus.
“We want to end the cycle of homeless animals,” said Killackey. “So many are euthanized.”
Anderson said like other shelters they are seeing more animals abandoned because of the economy. In other cases, it’s because the owner of the pet has passed away or has gone into a nursing home.
Their goal is to find a home for all these animals, especially the older ones. “Senior animals are the hardest to adopt out. But they just want a home and a couch to curl up next to you on,” said Killackey. The oldest cat they have adopted out is 12, but most of their cats are under the age of 2. All the animals they have for adoption are healthy, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and chipped.
One of the more unique aspects of the agency’s program is finding homes for feral or semi-feral cats called “barn cats”. These are working cats who can help keep down the critter population in return for shelter and food. As with the agency’s other animals, these cats come vaccinated and spayed or neutered. There is also a free feral spay/neuter day held the first Saturday of each month by appointment.
The agency wants to remind people that pets make wonderful Christmas gifts and they have a selection of loving and playful animals to choose from that come in all sizes, ages, colors and personality types.
At the same time, getting a cat or dog is a big commitment. “A pet is a gift for life and that should be considered,” said Anderson.
For those ready to make the commitment but who don’t live close to the Diamond Springs facility, there are other locations where people can pick out a pet. Currently volunteers for the agency do pet adoptions at three different locations of PetSmart in Folsom as well as Rancho Cordova and Citrus Heights. “Those are all our animals,” said Anderson.
They also do adoptions at local pet businesses such as the Pampering Pickle in Placerville, Togs for Dogs in El Dorado Hills, and Lee’s Feed in Shingle Springs. Call their office at 530-642-2287 for hours and days when they will be at those locations.
Anderson did suggest that if people plan to buy someone a pet for Christmas that they get a gift certificate instead. That way the new owner can pick out their own pet after the hectic holiday season is over. If people want something to put under the Christmas tree, they suggest wrapping pet items such as collars, dishes, etc. to add to the anticipation of getting the pet.
The agency also welcomes additional donations to help support its work. Since January they have performed over 6,700 spay or neutering operations at low or no cost to the community. Those operations reduce the number of animals that have to be euthanized. They also offer low-cost vaccinations, microchipping. and other services such as de-worming and nail clipping.
Animal Outreach of the Mother Lode is located at 6101 Enterprise Drive, Diamond Springs. More information about the agency is available on their Website animaloutreachcats.com.
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.