As soon as you walk through the door of the Center for Animal Protection and Education, you know you are in a place built around a deep love and compassion for animals — all animals.
On this particular day, six dogs serve as official greeters, offering a warm welcome with plenty of tail-wagging and requests for attention.
Cory, the most vocal of the contingent, carries on a lively canine conversation.
The compassionate care is reflected on a visit to the pasture, where an eclectic mix of animals can be found sharing a peaceful life, eager to greet visitors.
A burro, a pig and goats wander in the spacious enclosure. Barn cats and chickens have their own indoor/outdoor spaces in a nearby barn.
CAPE, founded by Shelley Frost and JP Novic, was previously located in Santa Cruz for 21 years, making the move to Grass Valley in December 2012.
The seed for the move was planted, said Novic, through their longtime association with Animal Place Executive Director Kim Sturla.
Animal Place is a farmed animal sanctuary in Grass Valley.
The three kindred spirits worked together at the Peninsula Humane Society in the Bay Area and remained close friends over the years.
Novic considers Sturla her mentor, often asking herself, “What would Kim do?”
When pondering the big move, the main attractions of the Grass Valley area were the warmth of the people in the community and the good water, which is vital for the care of the animals, said Novic.
Novic and her husband, Josh, have built a home in Grass Valley. Frost, who grew up in Grass Valley and still has relatives in the area, splits her time between homes in Belmont and Lake of the Pines.
Novic’s expertise lies on the administrative side of the nonprofit, “staying on top of things.”
Frost is the creative force, said Novic.
She handles the more technical endeavors, such as making videos for the organization and designing its newsletters.
The sanctuary’s niche is the care of injured, disabled and special needs animals — animals with no other options.
Special needs animals, of all types, are accepted from shelters and other animal organizations.
They work closely with Animal Place and other organizations to get animals where they can receive the best care. Their proximity to Animal Place allows for easy collaboration.
The dog and cat rescue portion of CAPE will remain in Santa Cruz, under the direction of Cathy Townsend, manager of the foster and adoption programs.
“It’s already being done so well here (in Nevada County), and it is still needed in Santa Cruz,” said Frost.
Right now, the duo’s attention is focused on taking in burros rescued from BLM land.
Their first burro resident is Jackson, a stray who found his way into a small herd of wild horses on an unfenced ranch in Nevada.
He was later rescued by the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, socialized and taken to his new home on CAPE’s Grass Valley property.
“We were told he was wild, but he’s so sweet,” said Novic.
On a recent visit, Jackson followed along, stopping frequently to request extra attention and affection. A couple of burro buddies are expected to arrive soon.
Other animal residents include Rootie the pig, a social fellow always in search of a belly rub or back scratch.
An extra latch had to be placed on the barn door, as resourceful Rootie was opening it by himself and making unscheduled visits during the day.
It’s readily apparent that Rootie has his hoof placed firmly on the pulse of the entire menagerie.
He was slated for slaughter by his original owner because he was the runt of the litter.
Phoebe, a pot-bellied pig, is a curmudgeonly old girl whose daily pleasures come in the form of frequent special treats.
The barn cats, one having lived in a car for six years in its past life, now enjoy an existence filled with luxury by feline standards with several plush beds for naptime, pipes for hiding out in and scratching posts for climbing on.
Animal advocacy is a significant part of the animal rights group’s mission.
Locally, they are spearheading a protest against elephant rides, offered by Have Trunk Will Travel, at this year’s Nevada County Fair.
CAPE also offers hospice care with the same requirements as hospice for humans — a prognosis of six months or less to live.
“We’ve handled 12 hospice cases, and about half have lived over a year,” said Novic.
Nellie the goat, for instance, came to CAPE initially for hospice care. More than two years later, she still roams the pasture with gusto.
Both Frost and Novic use the word “naughty” in connection with Nellie. She has a penchant for getting a little too close for comfort at times.
For the immediate future, Frost is hoping to build a base of support in the area, including volunteers to help with animal care, as well as special events.
“Volunteers are our angels,” said Novic.
Outreach and education
The nonprofit has taken a multimedia approach to broadcasting its message — from a TV show, which ran for 10 years and covered every topic from animal communication to the use of animals in research, to a radio show and an online video channel, Animal Eyes TV on YouTube.
Both Frost and Novic are especially excited about an upcoming project — the Animal Film Festival.
According to the website, http://animalfilmfestival.org, the festival “seeks to explore topics about companion animals, wildlife, animals in entertainment, farming and laboratories. We are looking for films that highlight ways our society both celebrates or abuses our relationships with non-humans.”
The festival is open to both high-quality professionals and amateurs.
“We wanted a place for amateurs to get their work seen,” said Frost.
There will be a mix of films from the serious, issue-based submissions to those that are just for laughs, said Frost.
“We just want people to learn and enjoy themselves,” said Novic.
So far, interest in entering films has come from around the world, including Korea, Iceland and England.
Now in the process of calling for entries, the Animal Film Festival will take place March 1, 2014, at The Center for the Arts in Grass Valley.
The nonprofit will also be bringing guest speakers on animal-related topics to the area. Confirmed for early December is award-winning wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas.
Her work has been published newspapers, books and magazines around the world. To see more of Eszterhas’ work, visit http://suzieszterhas.com.
“We are looking forward to collaborating to care for all animals, all species deserving of kindness and respect. We want to get the debates out there and have sophisticated conversation,” said Novic.
“We’re happy to be here. It’s a wonderful community.”
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