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Volunteer Opportunities Abound at Eastern Madera County SPCA

MOUNTAIN COMMUNITIESEastern Madera County SPCA needs you and your skills — whatever those may be.

Since the organization’s founding in 1990, Eastern Madera County SPCA has worked tirelessly to fundraise and construct a no-kill shelter for Madera County animals. What once seemed like a dream and a far-off destination has inched closer to being a functioning facility.

EMCSPCA president Sharon Fitzgerald says that the actual grand opening won’t happen until sometime in 2022, but the project is far enough along to put out a call for volunteers for work that needs to happen between now and the date the shelter opens to its residents.

A first step toward opening was the hiring of Jeanette Hanneman, who brings with her a wealth of experience. At 40 she found her passion — working with animals. After 16 years of office management she obtained her veterinary technician license from San Joaquin College. Her varied experiences include flying raptors on McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, managing a wildlife rehabilitation center in Sonoma County and moving to Alaska for 12 years. While in Alaska she worked for the Alaska SeaLife Center, in the grant accounting department and then coordinating their Oiled Wildlife Response Team, as well as stints in small animal emergency hospitals. She is a member of the National Veterinary Response Team (NVRT), a group of veterinarians and veterinary technicians across the US who respond to national disasters and federal events to care for domestic animals. In 2018, she returned to California to be with family.  She moved back to Oakhurst and became involved with the EMCSPCA.  In October, EMCSPCA hired her as the Shelter Manager for the new EMCSPCA Animal Care and Adoption Center in Ahwahnee.

First on the list is gathering a group of dedicated volunteers to assist Jeanette, Sharon and the EMCSPCA board of directors to put in place the last pieces of the shelter puzzle as well as fulfill other ever-present needs of the organization.

To that end, EMC SPCA has scheduled two volunteer meetings in early November:

  • Sunday, November 7, 2 p.m. – Sierra Masonic Lodge, 40216 Hwy 49, Oakhurst
  • Monday, November 8, 5:30 p.m. – Coarsegold Community Center, 35610 Highway 41, Coarsegold

These meetings bring together the needs of the shelter and other EMCSPCA functions along with the skills of willing volunteers. Sharon Fitzgerald says there’s always a need, whether it’s at the shelter or off-site.  If you have a special talent — whatever that is — EMCSPCA will find a way to use it. Volunteers must be 18 years of age or older for face-to-face interaction with animals, but there are a variety of “jobs” that those from 8 to 17 can undertake, as well.

EMCSPCA provides any volunteer training required at no charge to volunteers.

With respect to the shelter opening, Sharon says there are so many jobs that can’t be completed until the very last minute, including the installation of appliances such as refrigerators in three different areas, dishwashers, supplies for the grooming, surgery and food preparation areas, stocking of food and heavy-duty cleaning and sanitation supplies specifically designed to address different pet diseases.

Loads of research went into the planning and construction of the shelter. No wire cages exist anywhere, with kennels and cat residences strategically placed so that animal interaction is positive, with both indoor and fenced outdoor areas for play. The shelter design seeks to house animals in stages from reception, where staff and volunteers observe newcomers for health issues and where they can adapt to life in the shelter. From there they move to more integrated areas, as they are ready. Everything promotes animal welfare — including the placement of a couch in the staff room for those hopefully rare occasions when animals might require round-the-clock care.

As of early October, the volunteer staff numbered approximately twenty-five who serve at the thrift store and another thirty who assist in other areas. If that seems like a full roster already, Sharon says there is always a need for more, of all types.

Right now approximately ten volunteers accept foster animals, and there is always a need for more because not all fosters fit with all animals needing temporary homes, for a variety of reasons, whether it be other pets in the home, young children or breed-specific issues..

Donations are always welcome and always needed. Although many events had to be canceled during 2020 and 2021, a concert is tentatively scheduled for late January, with details to be released soon. The popular Whine & Noses plans to make a grand return in June 2022 and smaller events are on tap at the shelter once it opens.

Make plans now to attend one of the volunteer recruitment meetings listed above. Animals’ lives depend on it.

Photos courtesy of Eastern Madera County SPCA.

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