While the shelter’s basic upkeep and routine operation is funded by the city, private donations pay for expensive surgical procedures, medication and to serve a small number of dogs rescued from other facilities.
Donations also help fund education programs developed by the shelter staff to encourage informed and responsible pet ownership. Building upgrades are also needed.
The shelter has provided temporary care for lost, strayed, sick or injured animals in Laguna Beach since 1975, when a group of volunteers successfully lobbied the City Council to purchase the former Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals building on Laguna Canyon Road.
Former Mayor Neil Fitzpatrick came up with the name Pet Owners Obligation to the Public for the group, but it was abandoned when someone figured out the acronym.
“I became discouraged when they dumped the name,” Fitzpatrick said.
Regardless of the name, volunteers have performed invaluable service to the shelter since Day 1.
Besides raising funds, and as important, volunteers assist the staff, which includes Manager Nancy Goodwin, Animal Services Officers Joy Falk, Dave Pietarila and John Thompson, and two full-time kennel attendants, Laura Dunaway and Kathleen Sherwood, who has worked at the shelter for 22 years.
“We also have four staff people who fill in on different days: Jakqui Kuhns, and Pat Barham, who also still volunteers, and Laura’s daughters, Callie and Taylor, when school is out,” Sherwood said.
Volunteers commit to a minimum of four hours a week spent bathing, walking and socializing with the animals in the shelter. They also assist in adoptions and maintain a list of lost and found pets, staff the front and greet the public.