Sammie’s Friends helps hurting animals |

Sammie’s Friends helps hurting animals

For the past three years, she has been a crusader for all domestic animals who walk on four legs.

She has convinced animal lovers from as far away as the Bay Area to come to the Nevada County Animal Shelter to help ease the perennial overcrowding at the McCourtney Road facility.

Often, she’s at the shelter feeding, walking and cleaning the animals at their temporary home as they wait for a good one.

Cheryl Wicks realizes there’s only so much money for an endeavor like this, even in a county that considers owning animals a birthright.

“Oh my God, you wouldn’t believe what I would do if I was rich,” Wicks said recently. “I’d help every animal on this planet if I could.”

She can’t help every pooch or tabby that’s brought into the shelter, but with the help of a new nonprofit, Wicks hopes potential owners won’t shy away from an animal with a few manageable battle scars.

To that end, she’s started Sammie’s Friends, named for a Shar-Pei Wicks adopted 14 years ago and, despite his current blindness, began life like many of the animals at the local county shelter.

The county already pays $100 toward the cost of nonemergency care for adoptable animals. Wicks’ nonprofit will pay as much as $400 to fix routine ailments for adoptable animals.

If a dog is suffering from eczema, Wicks will pay for its treatment. Hair falling out? No problem. Malnourished? That can be fixed, too.

Wicks, the animal shelter’s volunteer coordinator, said she hopes her work can help keep euthanasia rates sliding at the animal shelter. Of approximately 2,000 dogs and cats brought to the shelter in the last year, 91 percent have been adopted, she said. That’s down from six years ago, when nearly two-thirds of the 3,000 dogs and cats were put down once they arrived at the shelter.

The money Wicks is willing to spend “is usually enough to get them in good enough shape so they’re adoptable,” she said.

With the shelter full as of late last week, there’s plenty of opportunity to adopt a few animals with minor dings and scratches.

Wicks and her partner, Curt Romander, have raised $15,000 in seed money to get the program started last year. The program just recently was granted nonprofit status. Last year, Wicks and Romander helped nurse 100 animals back to health.

“This money is for people who love their animals but don’t have the money to take care of them,” she said.

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