Sunday, January 25, 2015

Paws for Thought: Shelter saves lots of animal lives

Alex Wold walks Eva around their neighborhood. Eva gets at least two walks a day plus fun time at the park with Alex and his sister Sophia. Eva is the latest of four “happy tails” to join the Wold household. Courtesy photo

From page A3 | October 16, 2012 |

Did you know one of the most successful animal shelters in the world is in Nevada County?

Thanks to a joint partnership between Nevada County and the nonprofit Sammie’s Friends, this open-admission municipal animal shelter announced that its live release rate is now better than 99 percent. That is, fewer than 1 percent of the shelter animals are euthanized.

How did this happen? Back in 2001, Cheryl Wicks started a volunteer program at the Nevada County Animal Shelter. Shortly thereafter, Curt Romander joined her. They soon realized that many animals were euthanized because they needed health care or because they were not adopted before their time ran out.

Determined to improve this sad situation, they formed a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Sammie’s Friends, in 2004. Three years later, Curt, Cheryl and county officials discussed having Sammie’s Friends manage the animal shelter. Curt wrote a proposal, and on July 1, 2010, Sammie’s Friends began managing Nevada County’s open-admission animal shelter.

Achieving a better than 99 percent live release rate is especially remarkable because the budget and staff at Nevada County’s Animal Shelter are severely limited. Fortunately, community support is not. In Sammie’s Friends spring 2012 newsletter, “The Poop Scoop,” Cheryl writes, “The saying ‘it takes a village’ couldn’t be used more appropriately than here. There is a very small staff of 4½ people. There are more than 100 volunteers who help every week at the shelter, which add the equivalent of another 7½ people. There are at least 50 people who provide foster homes. There are hundreds who donate money and others who donate food, blankets and towels.”

Happy tails: Veterinarian Kirsten Wold has four happy tails in her household. She writes, “A homeless guy found two black kittens and dropped them off at Cal West Pet Hospital in Fairfield where I work. Ironically, it was the day after my beloved Mogli died. At first, my husband wouldn’t let me take Apache and Sara … he said it was too soon after Mogli died. The home they went to didn’t work out, and they came back to our clinic. I then insisted we take them. It was meant to be.

“Yoda, a very small Chihuahua, was being fostered by the Solano SPCA when the resident mastiff bit him. Yoda sustained skull fractures and was taken to Cal West Pet Hospital. Blind and turning in circles for a while, Yoda eventually healed, and I brought him home.

“Although the entire family adores Yoda, he is unable to go for walks. My children, Alex and Sophia, wanted a dog they could take on walks and throw a ball for at the park. After checking local shelters without success, I asked a co-worker to keep a lookout for a good match at the Solano SPCA. Shortly thereafter, I learned about Eva, who loves to play with tennis balls and go on walks. Eva definitely had a prior owner — she was house-trained and responded to commands such as ‘sit,’ ‘stay’ and ‘come.’

“I was concerned that Eva might chase our two cats. Happily, Apache and Sara are adjusting (albeit a bit grudgingly), and Eva gets along well with Yoda. Alex and Sophia enjoy walking Eva and taking her to the park. Alex faithfully walks her before and after school. Eva is a wonderful addition to the Wold family.”

Ways to help: October is Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog month. Go to to learn 10 things you can do to promote shelter adoptions. If you’re looking to adopt a dog or other pet, check out Yolo, Solano and Sacramento County shelters as well as the city of Sacramento shelter on Front Street.

— Evelyn Dale of Davis is a volunteer and advocate for shelter animal welfare. Contact her at This column appears monthly.



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