‘Home for the Holidays’ pet adoption campaign

The Sacramento SPCA, City of Sacramento Animal Care Services, Sacramento County Animal Care & Regulation and Happy Tails Pet Sanctuary are holding a joint “Home for the Holidays” pet adoption special which will run through Dec. 30.

ONE THOUSAND dogs and cats are seeking a fur-ever home in the Sacramento area. Three shelters are joining forces to find homes for these furry friends so they, too, can be “Home for the Holidays.” / Photo, courtesy

ONE THOUSAND dogs and cats are seeking a fur-ever home in the Sacramento area. Three shelters are joining forces to find homes for these furry friends so they, too, can be “Home for the Holidays.” / Photo, courtesy

The goal of the holiday adoption promotion is to increase adoptions community-wide and to ultimately find new homes for 1,000 homeless animals by the end of 2011. During “Home for the Holidays,” adoption fees for all animals will be reduced by 75 percent.

The four participating shelters will take in more than 35,000 homeless animals this year alone. This figure represents an increase over previous years due to the poor economy and other factors. Sacramento animal shelters are overburdened with hundreds of animals seeking permanent homes. Through “Home for the Holidays,” the shelters will work together to boost adoptions, and will strive to facilitate 1,000 additional adoptions before the end of the year.

“We’re hoping that when people are thinking of adding a furry family member to their household this holiday season, that they will visit their local animal shelters first, and give an animal a Home for the Holidays,” said Rick Johnson, Sacramento SPCA CEO.

For more information on “Home for the Holidays,” visit www.sspca.org, www.happytails.org, www.sacpetsearch.com, or www.SacCountyShelter.net.

Food for all: Titanic’s Pantry helps Sacramento families feed their four-legged family members

The last few years have been very rough for everyone economically – every day families struggle just to put food on the table. And for many families, that includes a struggle to provide food for their pets also.

PETS IN NEED. As the economy stumbles, humans aren’t the only family members in need. Families are struggling to feed their furry children, too. Titanic’s Pantry exists to help. / Photo courtesy, Titanic’s Pantry

PETS IN NEED. As the economy stumbles, humans aren’t the only family members in need. Families are struggling to feed their furry children, too. Titanic’s Pantry exists to help. / Photo courtesy, Titanic’s Pantry

That’s where Sacramento’s pet food bank, Titanic’s Pantry, comes in.

“When you have to make a decision between paying your mortgage, your car payment or buying dog food, that’s a real conundrum,” explained Gina Knepp, acting manager of the City of Sacramento Animal Care Services. “It’s a terrible dilemma for anyone to have to face. If you find yourself in dire straits where you need pet food, come get it from us because we don’t want people to surrender their pets to the local shelters – that’s the last thing we want to do.”

The pantry is seeing an increase in need, just as local food banks for humans are seeing an uptick – at this time of year, especially. Every neighborhood in the region is affected.

Penny Cistaro, now chief operations officer for the Sacramento SPCA, started Titanic’s Pantry in November 2009. She got the idea for the pantry while in Washington State.

“When I came back to California, there wasn’t a (pet) food bank in the region, and having had a (pet) food bank up in Washington State at the shelter I had worked at and seeing the benefits there, I wanted to start one here,” Cistaro said.

A team effort

Now about two years later, Titanic’s Pantry is a collaborative effort of the City of Sacramento Animal Care Services, Sacramento County Animal Care and Regulation, the Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), and Happy Tails Pet Sanctuary.

According to Knepp, those in need of pet food can visit the city, county, or SPCA shelter once a month for a donation.

The City’s shelter has the biggest client base – more than 2,000 people come there each month and they distribute at least 3,000 pounds of food a week. Additionally, Titanic’s Pantry provides a number of other supplies that people may need for their animals; everything from cat litter and litter boxes to dog biscuits, leashes, collars, beds and even toys.

Who is eligible?

So who is eligible to receive assistance from Titanic’s Pantry?

Anyone who needs it, according to Knepp. There is no application to fill out or proof of eligibility.

“If they’re not registered with us, the first time they come in they show us a picture ID and we’ll put them in our computer system to keep track of how many people we’re helping,” Knepp explained. “Then once a month they can come back if they need to and get food from us. We have some people that come back several times. And then we have some people that come back and bring us a bag of food to thank us because we helped them when they were in trouble.”

Bags of food needed

And it’s those bags of pet food coming in to Titanic’s Pantry that are so desperately needed right now.

“One of the biggest challenges is to keep the shelves constantly stocked because you rely on donations,” said Shari Lowen, senior services coordinator for the Sacramento SPCA and volunteer that helped Cistaro start Titanic’s Pantry. “You may get a huge truckload of donated food and that might last a few weeks and then somebody comes in and there’s absolutely nothing to give them.”

Donations of pet food – dry cat and dog food – are how the community can help support the Pantry, Cistaro said.

“Buy a 20, 30, or 40 pound bag of food and bring it to the SPCA or take it to the county or the city (shelters) – whichever shelter is closest or whichever one is closest to your heart,” Cistaro said. “Just bring in food – even a 10-pound, 5-pound bag of dry food. It’s easy to transport, it lasts, that’s what will help.”

Participate in a pet food drive

According to Knepp, donations can be made on-site to the city, county, SPCA, or Happy Tails. She added that the community can pitch in to help by setting up pet food drives for the Pantry in their neighborhood.

EVERY BIT HELPS. Donations of bags of pet food – in 5, 10, 20, even 50 pound bags – can help to make a difference in the life of a family in your neighborhood. Grateful families often return months later with a donation of pet food…happy to return the favor for help during a “rough patch.” / Photo courtesy, Titanic’s Pantry

EVERY BIT HELPS. Donations of bags of pet food – in 5, 10, 20, even 50 pound bags – can help to make a difference in the life of a family in your neighborhood. Grateful families often return months later with a donation of pet food…happy to return the favor for help during a “rough patch.” / Photo courtesy, Titanic’s Pantry

For example, Knepp held a drive in Hollywood Park, raising 800 pounds of food for the Pantry. She then passed it on to Curtis Park – which brought in over 3,000 pounds of food donations – and now is trying to get Land Park “to take up the gauntlet.”

Knepp said a pet food drive can also be a great project for groups, such as high schools.

Help pets by volunteering

Titanic’s Pantry is also always in need of volunteers to help with picking up donations of pet food. For example, a Save Mart store in Vacaville currently supplies the Pantry with donations of food from broken bags, which Knepp says can sometimes add up to about 7,000 pounds of dry kibble for the Pantry. Volunteers are needed to help bag the loose kibble for distribution using empty sand bags Knepp obtained from the Department of Transportation.

“Our volunteers will come in and fill the sand bags up with dog food and we tie the tops just like sand, but it’s dog food, and (we) give that out,” she explained.

Keeping Titanic’s Pantry going will continue to help enable people to keep their animals, Cistaro said.

“Animals play a powerful role in someone’s life,” she said. “People lose so much, the last thing they should lose is a family member and an animal is a family member.”

For more information on Titanic’s Pantry, including volunteer and donation information, visit www.sacpetfoodbank.org.

‘Giving Thanks and Giving Back’ donation drive in memory of Pocket pooch

 

Land Park/Greenhaven Jazzercise is hosting a donation drive to benefit the animals at the Sacramento SPCA in honor and loving memory of dachshund Olive Collins, a Pocket resident whose life was tragically cut short when she was hit by a passing auto.

Olive Collins was a happy resident of the Pocket area in Sacramento. Sadly, her life was cut short last summer when she was hit by a car. In appreciation for her life, friends are gathering donations to benefit the animals at Sacramento SPCA in Olive’s memory. / Photo courtesy

Olive Collins was a happy resident of the Pocket area in Sacramento. Sadly, her life was cut short last summer when she was hit by a car. In appreciation for her life, friends are gathering donations to benefit the animals at Sacramento SPCA in Olive’s memory. / Photo courtesy

The donation drive will be held on Thanksgiving morning, Nov. 25. Those interested in attending a team taught Jazzercise class at 9:15 a.m. are welcome. However, it is not necessary to participate in Jazzercise to make a donation that will help the animals.

In addition to monetary donations, the SPCA shelter animals and the humans who care for them need: art display boards/easels, bath towels, bleach, manual can openers, Carefresh animal bedding, cat toys and treats, cat trees and scratching posts, collars, dog toys and treats, grooming clippers (Oscar A5/#40 blades), heating pads, humidifiers (for sick animals), KMR – kitten milk replacement, Kongs, leashes, long-handled squeegees, meat-flavored baby food (for sick and finicky eaters), newspaper (rolled tubes of 25-35 sheets each), peanut butter, pet beds, plastic litterboxes (small) and stainless steel dog and cat bowls.

If you plan to be out of town on Thanksgiving Day, items can be dropped off with Linda Pohl at the Valley Community Newspapers office, located at 2709 Riverside Blvd. in Sacramento.

A change of scenery: From lawyer to artist

Carmichael resident Richard Turner left his successful career as a lawyer to become a photographer and artist. (Photo courtesy Richard Turner)
Carmichael resident Richard Turner left his successful career as a lawyer to become a photographer and artist. (Photo courtesy Richard Turner)
“I never got to appreciate what I saw before.”

That is how Carmichael resident and photographer Richard Turner sums up his life before photography. It’s not that he never went anywhere interesting; he detailed a seven-day span in which he traveled to a half dozen European countries for business during his 41 years as a lawyer. It’s not that he was unable to see, it’s that his job did not allow him to see.

“I didn’t want any more calls or faxes or anything else,” Turner said of a decision he made in 1998. “I told my wife I’d be back in a month. I drove through Idaho and Montana and took a camera along.”

Turner wasn’t experienced with photography when he left, nor had he ever had much interest during his years consumed with the legal process.

“I considered myself a pretty creative lawyer,” he said slyly. “But I didn’t know I had any artistic ability at all.”

When he came back, he showed his pictures to a professional photographer, but the reception he got was not favorable. He was told that the pictures he had taken were terrible. Instead of letting this news get him down, he took to heart what he was told and dove deep into the art of photography.

At the conclusion of a three-month trial in 2005, Turner retired from practicing law (although he remains licensed to this day). His newfound freedom allowed him to finally see everything that surrounded him. And what caught his eye in the most profound way was nature.

“I can hardly even walk by a flower without stopping to look at it now,” he said.

“I can hardly even walk by a flower without stopping to look at it now,” said photographer Richard Turner. (Photo courtesy Richard Turner)
“I can hardly even walk by a flower without stopping to look at it now,” said photographer Richard Turner. (Photo courtesy Richard Turner)
To say that photography and nature changed his life is one thing, but hearing his words on life after being in the law profession truly shows what a different path his life has taken.

“I learned that I don’t want to miss the beauty of the world by being too busy,” he said.

He had seen just about everything he could possibly see in law over those 41 years, but the life that he enjoys now never really got to play a part.

Turner said that 90 percent of his photography work is of nature. He specializes in high-impact color on flowers. To date he has sold 35,000 greeting cards that are sold all over Northern California including at the Crocker Art Museum. And while selling pieces is always a welcome event, it is the art itself that captivates him.

“Sharing (my photos) with people makes me happy,” he said.

It would seem as though his photos make other people happy as well. Some of Turner’s work now hangs in Mercy San Juan Hospital in Sacramento. Thirty-five photographers from all over Northern California entered a contest to see whose pieces would be chosen to adorn the walls. Currently there are 12 Turner original works on permanent display in the lobby as well as the connection between wings.

His colorful and vibrant works were considered ideal to put in a place for patients and their family members. Included is a five-by-three-foot Peace rose on canvas, which hangs on the wall across from the elevators.

 

Other artistic endeavors

Richard Turner said that 90 percent of his photography work is of nature. (Photo courtesy Richard Turner)
Richard Turner said that 90 percent of his photography work is of nature. (Photo courtesy Richard Turner)
Turner is also starting a concert series at the Sacramento Fine Arts Center in which he will collaborate with both visual and performing artists to create what he calls “Art Song” by combining images with music. The series will hopefully be up and running by October of this year.

He will also have his works at the Sacramento Art Festival in October at the Sacramento Convention Center as well as at the Blue Wing Gallery in Woodland in May 2011.

Being an artist can be a tough thing if it is what you do for a living. But Turner has a message for the struggling artist who wonders if it’s worth it.

“Pursue your passion. Good things will happen if you do,” he said. “Good things always happen. It might be money, it might not. But something good will happen.”

For more about Turner and his work, visit his Web site at www.rturnerphotography.com.

 

E-mail Benn Hodapp at benn@valcomnews.com.