Pals for 10 years: Animal rescue operation celebrates a decade of service | TheUnion.com

Pals for 10 years: Animal rescue operation celebrates a decade of service

Submitted to The Union

Scooter's Pals celebrates a decade today.

During the past 10 years, Scooter's Pals has saved thousands of abandoned dogs — and some cats, too — that were facing death in shelters. In addition, Scooter's has played a critical role in re-homing hundreds more whose local owners were unable to continue caring for them.

"The total of animals whose lives we've saved is now over 5,000," Scooter's Pals founder Susan Wallace said.

The all-volunteer nonprofit was officially founded on May 8, 2008, exactly three years after Scooter, Wallace's beloved shih tzu, died during a home invasion attack and fire still remembered by many county residents.

Widely known for her dedication to animals — especially those once-loved pets that end up abandoned and scheduled for euthanasia in shelters — Wallace has built an organization that operates on a shoestring budget and prides itself on having no paid staff.

Wallace admits that at times, the going has been tough. The group is almost entirely dependent on donations, now more essential as grants and public funding have become increasingly rare for animal welfare.

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"How could I accept a salary of, say, $40,000 or more when those dollars can be used to save so many lives?" Wallace asked. "How could any of us take money that's meant for the dogs? All of the Scooter's Pals humans are animal-lovers and share a common commitment to do anything possible to rescue, care for, and find good homes for animals that have been discarded by our society.

"Not only are there no salaries paid, there are no perks or benefits. In fact, often times the volunteers pay some of costs of care or transport out of their own pockets."

Over the years, Scooter's Pals has evolved into ways unique to most of the animal welfare world.

"First of all, we never take in an animal unless we have already in hand the wherewithal — funds and available fosters — to give that animal what it needs," Wallace said. "We do what we can to the extent of our resources. And we've gotten pretty good at creative ways of making the most out of every dollar we receive. And even on those occasions when a rescue arrives with unknown or undisclosed issues, we never discard one of our animals.

"In fact, on the rare occasions that an adoption placement doesn't work out, we always take our animals back and work to find a home that's a better fit."

Scooter's Pals strives to be unique in other ways, too. It has a sanctuary program to provide love and a good quality of life to dogs too ill or too hard to adopt out. Confessing a soft spot for senior critters, Wallace said every animal deserves a "soft landing."

"To dump them would be unforgivable," she said.

The "corporate culture" at Scooter's Pals relies on a network of dedicated fosters, supported by a number of foster mentors. The objective is to prepare each rescued animal for adoption and includes whatever medical care, including surgeries, needed.

"This is by far the biggest and most critical of our annual budget," Wallace said.

Most rescues need at least a bit of socialization as being on "death row" at a shelter is a terrifying experience. Sometimes a dog responds to the fear and loneliness by developing some behavior issues.

Scooter's Pals provides a professional course of behavioral training in such cases. The extent to which the group will go to aid each animal, the care they take to provide the best match between animal and adopting family, is considered by many to be exemplary.

In the coming years, Wallace said she aims to improve outreach and donor base, gaining more volunteers, especially in the areas of social media, communications, marketing and fundraising.

"Finding more ways we can be of service to this amazing community that has supported us so generously since day one ­— I am so deeply grateful," Wallace said. " … We have restored the hearing, the sight, and ability to walk and run for many, many dogs that otherwise would have been euthanized because someone decided they were 'just not worth it.'

"My goal is to increase each year the number of dogs (and cats) that can live happy, great lives, making so many of us humans happy and healthy as well."

To make a donation, mail a check to Scooter's Pals, PO Box 1687, Cedar Ridge, CA 95924, or go to http://www.facebook.com/scooterspals or http://www.scooterspals.org.

Source: Scooter's Pals