OAKHURST — Scores of happy people and their pets filled Oakhurst Community Park for the 20th annual Animal Faire and Tails on Trails fundraising event hosted by the Eastern Madera County SPCA on Sunday, Sept. 7.
EMC SPCA President Sharon Fitzgerald says the net income from the event is $4,000 and that’s great, because the new shelter building is nearing completion and money is still needed for daily operations when it opens.
Madera County District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler was the patient Master of Ceremonies for the day, and award medals were presented by Graydon Kennels in memory of Michael Steen. All proceeds from the fun event go to benefit the EMC SPCA Animal Care and Adoption Center, opening on Highway 49 in 2019.
With categories like Fastest Fetch, Best Wag and Best Kiss — this animal extravaganza offered something for everyone, including a blessing of the animals, best trick, and best costume.
Third and second place in the costume contest went to Lizard Wizard, the spot-on reptilian champ, and the dog-dressed-like-a-cow, Hey Diddle Diddle. First prize went to Dogald Trump as portrayed by Roscoe, owned by Jennifer Moss.
“Because the girl scouts were judging, we thought we were doomed,” laughs Jennifer, who attended with her daughter and wondered if they would appreciate the presidential costume. “Miranda and I exchanged looks and shook our heads. Especially when one pointed to him and said ‘What’s that?’ but he prevailed and we were both super surprised when they announced Roscoe as a winner!”
The EMC SPCA was organized in 1990 with the goal of building a much needed shelter.
With Madera County Animal Control being the only facility in the area and having what local experts consider a very high euthanasia rate, the founders wanted something better for the community.
Organizers soon decided that the key was educating themselves and building relationships with well-run shelters.
Over the years, a group of dedicated volunteers refined their goals, established programs to prevent more pet over-population, and began fundraising for the shelter.
When finished, the sprawling EMC SPCA Animal Care and Adoption Center will be about 8,000 square feet with state of the art design and finishes, all built with local donations and grants.
It rises proudly above the highway on Road 49 in Ahwahnee, across from Wasuma Elementary School. The building has recently been painted a shade of blue “the color of a cloudy sky,” says Sharon Fitzgerald, just one of hundreds of decisions that have been made as the long-awaited building comes to fruition. Local company R. Papike Construction was chosen for the shelter job and Sharon says they could not be more pleased with the work that Randy and his crew are doing.
In the 27 years since volunteers have been working toward this goal, animal shelters have changed considerably, and animals in the foothills will benefit for decades as a result. Meanwhile, in order to cut down on the needs of the shelter before it was even built, the EMC SPCA-assisted spay and neuter program and the feral cat program have together, over the years, assisted more than one million felines.
The finished shelter will house 30 dogs and 50 cats and include a surgical suite for low-cost spay and neuter clinics, as well as care for animals on-site. Cats will have four community rooms with modular condo-like cubbies designed by a company called Catswall, and a “get-acquainted room” with a large window for easy viewing. In addition to community rooms, cats will have an enclosed, chain-link outdoor area.
Dogs will have transfer doors between their indoor and outdoor kennels, and a communal outdoor play area where they will co-mingle. They EMC SPCA folks are building 16 regular kennels, four additional isolation kennels, and four puppies-and-mom-rooms.
Eventually, Sharon says, there will be a dog park built adjacent to the shelter property. She estimates that the shelter will create jobs for five to seven paid positions, along with volunteers. The shelter also includes a spacious community education room — an all-purpose space, for volunteers and community meetings.
If you have questions about the new shelter, any EMC SPCA program, or want to volunteer and contribute — please contact Sharon Fitzgerald at (559) 642-6611 or visit the EMC SPCA website and Facebook page.