by Joyce Brandon
Animal Compassion Team of California (ACT) is a 501c3 non-profit organization founded in August of 2009. ACT fulfills the vision of several good friends who were both volunteers and employees of the Central California SPCA. After several years of heartbreaking and frustrating service to that organization, it became clear that in order to make a difference we would have to start our own animal rescue. We never imagined that our efforts would result in over 1,000 animals saved in the first year alone!
ACT is working primarily in Fresno and surrounding communities. Our home base is in Squaw Valley and our adoption center is in Clovis. The nice thing about being foster-based is that there are really no boundaries. We have somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty foster homes. Foster families are our heroes. Without their sacrifice we could not save lives.
We respond where needed, including Reedley, Dinuba, Mendota, and other rural communities in the Central Valley. We find there is a great need in these small towns. Our goal is to bring awareness in these communities regarding the plight of their stray animals. Most people don’t realize that stray animals taken to the Central California SPCA from these small rural towns are usually taken straight to the kill room. They are not given a chance at finding a home. It is a very sad situation.
Our board of directors is diverse. We currently have six active board members, counting myself, and I double as a part-time church secretary/treasurer; Brenda Mitchell, who is immersed in rescue work 24/7; Tracy Crutchfield and Katie Applin, who are both teachers for Fresno Unified; Whitney Mayeda, who also works at the HOPE Animal Foundation; and Cassie Heffington, who also works with troubled children. We have no paid employees; we are all volunteers.
The premise of ACT is simple. We love animals and we believe they deserve better then leaving the local shelters in a barrel. Most importantly, we believe we have the power to make a difference. Our vision and compassion are probably best demonstrated in the story of Sarah. Sarah’s story exemplifies the success that can be achieved when people work together for the love a dog.
I received a phone call several months ago from a concerned citizen named Israel. Israel had been feeding and caring for a dog that was raising her puppies in the back of an alley. He named her Sarah. Sarah had been wandering the area for many months when she gave birth to ten puppies. Israel did the best he could to tend to the new family. He built them a shelter, provided food for Sarah, and made a bed of shavings for the new family to rest in.
Despite his best efforts one puppy died. The weather was getting colder and the puppies were becoming mobile. Israel knew this was potentially a deadly combination for the remaining pups. Israel also knew that to take them to the local shelter was most likely a death sentence for this desperate family. After calling several local rescue groups he managed to contact Animal Compassion Team.
ACT Co-Founder Brenda Mitchell arrived on scene to survey the problem and knew in an instant she couldn’t leave them behind. Mind you, we didn’t know exactly what we were going to do with this “little” family, but we did know we needed to help. Brenda returned to our Sierra Vista Adoption Center with the family in the back seat of her car.
We got them settled in and began the work of finding a foster home. ACT operates entirely out of foster homes as we do not yet have the property we so desperately need. We rely on the compassion and good graces of our team of rescuers.
We have found that our Facebook community of fans never lets us down so we put out the plea for help. As the day was drawing to a close we received the much needed call from a “fan” of ours. Her name was Anna and she offered her help. That day, Anna, Brenda, Israel, and ACT saved ten lives.
If you have ever tended to a litter of puppies you know what a lot of work it is! How about living in an apartment with a strange dog and her nine puppies? Anna is our foster hero! She took the family in as her own and did a magnificent job with them. She knew each puppy by name and could tell you their likes and dislikes. Fosters are critical to our life saving mission.Anna loved Sarah and the puppies as her own. The puppies grew and thrived and all found great homes. This past weekend, we are pleased to say, Sarah also moved on to her new home. The picture at the left is Anna and Sarah on their last morning together. It was through both tears of joy and sadness, Anna said goodbye. This is what we do, save them, love them, and say goodbye; it is always bittersweet.
We see God’s hand at work all of the time in our rescue efforts; but, amazing to all of us, was the fact that Israel happened to stop by the adoption center on Sarah’s last day with us. I tear up just thinking about it. Israel didn’t know Sarah would be there, or that she would be leaving for her new home that day. He stopped by to say hello. What a magnificent ending to Sarah’s ACT story. What a magnificent start to her new life.
Stories like Sarah’s are repeated over and over in the rescue world. She was lucky. Israel cared enough to help. Anna cared enough to help. Animal Compassion Team cared enough to help. Sadly tens of thousands aren’t so lucky. The Central California SPCA takes in between forty and fifty thousand animals each year. Kill rates exceed 70% in most years. This is not acceptable. It will take an army of compassionate people to turn this tragedy around but together we can do it.
What would we like you to know about Animal Compassion Team? We are a group of people just like you who decided to get involved and make a difference. Our vision is to start an animal sanctuary where animals can dwell in safety until their “forever” family comes for them. Our goal is to have a no-kill Central Valley and a no-kill nation.
Has God placed it on your heart to help? We are always looking for great foster homes and supplies such as food, litter, blankets, towels, and toys. Monetary donations are always needed to cover medical expenses. We need adopters (great homes for our animals), and if you have a piece of property you are interested in donating we would sure love to talk to you about it.
There are several ways to contact us:
Animal Compassion Website
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Call us at 559-272-8696. Drop by and meet us at our adoption center in the Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis. We are there 11-7 Fridays and Saturdays and 11-6 on Sundays.
Be sure to check out our furry four-legged friends on our website, on Pets911, and on Petfinder. Together we can make a difference in the lives of thousands of homeless animals in our Valley. Change is coming and now is the time to jump in. Hope to hear from you soon!