by Lorie Lewis Ham
This time of year we seem to think even more about those in need, so we at KRL like to feature some of the groups that help people in need in various ways. This week we are taking a look once again (we first interviewed them in 2013) at the amazing work of Westside Rescue in Fresno, whose mission is to serve the homeless pet owners of downtown Fresno by providing supplemental pet food, preventative vaccines, and spay and neuter services for their companion animals. They work to keep animals out of the shelters and with their humans. We sat down recently to chat with Ashley Hughes, who is a board member and volunteer with Westside Rescue.
KRL: Where all do you go to help the homeless in the area?
Ashley: We set up by the Poverello House and work off of folding tables. We are mobile, meaning we meet our clients where they are. We are an untraditional rescue in the sense that we do not have a facility to house animals and do not accept surrenders or adopt animals out to the public.
KRL: How often do you go out?
Ashley: We hold our outreach every two weeks. Our schedule can be found at www.westsiderescue.com
KRL: How many people/pets do you think you help during the year?
Ashley: We are greeted by a mixture of regular clients and new faces at every outreach. I would say we average about 40 people per outreach. We try to sign up 6-8 pets for spay/neuter each time we are downtown.
KRL: How do you go about getting their pets spayed and neutered?
Ashley: The only thing we require of our clients to take advantage of our services is that they allow us to have their animals spayed or neutered. That is at the core of our mission. We are fortunate enough to partner with HOPE Animal Foundation to have our clients’ animals fixed. We transport them to HOPE, where they have surgery and receive their rabies vaccination and then stay overnight to begin their healing process before we bring them back to their owners. (Side note: one of my favorite things is watching the animals being reunited with their humans. I get to witness lots of happy puppy wiggles and kisses!)
KRL: Awe that must be great! What specifically do you do for their pets?
Ashley: We work to educate our clients on how to properly care for their animals. We emphasize the health benefits of spay and neuter and the importance of preventative vaccinations. Once our clients have their animals fixed and vaccinated, we continue to provide pet food for their animals and make sure they are fitted with collars and leashes, as well as sweaters in the winter months.
KRL: Future goals?
Ashley: We would love to build up a base of consistent, dependable volunteers. We would also be thrilled to find donors willing to sponsor part of our monthly food bill; no pun intended – it eats up a lot of our budget!
KRL: Anything new since we interviewed you in 2013?
Ashley: We now have a once-a-month Saturday morning outreach for those clients who cannot make it to us on Friday evenings. Those outreaches generally focus on grooming, dog training techniques, and educational information.
KRL: Are there any special needs this time of year?
Ashley: We always strive to provide our clients with cold-weather survival kits for Christmas. We can use donations of non-perishable snacks, batteries, toilet paper, and new fleece blankets. There is also a more in-depth wish list on our website at: westsiderescue.com/public/infoDiv/wishlist.html
KRL: How else can people help?
Ashley: We can always use volunteers during Friday night outreaches and during fundraisers. We can also use help bagging dog food, writing Thank You notes to our donors, soliciting donations and driving pets to vet appointments.
KRL: Any events coming up?
Ashley: Our next fundraiser is our See’s Candy Valentine’s Day sale. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for more info!
Please consider donating to Westside Rescue over the holidays, and all throughout the year!
You can check out more animal rescue articles in KRL’s animal rescue section! If you advertise in KRL 10% of you ad money goes to a local animal rescue.