Cheryl Wicks: Did ya know? | TheUnion.com

Cheryl Wicks: Did ya know?

Other Voices
Cheryl Wicks

Here's what most everyone does know — Sammie's Friends' contract is up with the county on June 30, 2018.

Sammie's Friends has operated the Nevada County Animal Shelter since July 1, 2010. That will be eight years of service at the end of the contract. We believe we have done a great job for our animal friends and our human friends in this community.

We sincerely hope that we will be able to continue to provide love and comfort and, with your help, new loving homes that many of these neglected and abused animals have never experienced. We intake and adopt out somewhere between 1,800 and 2,000 animals every year.

Our claim to fame is that Sammie's Friends reduced the euthanasia rate at the county shelter from 68 percent to less than 1 percent and we have saved the lives of 25,000 animals.

Sammie’s Friends reduced the euthanasia rate at the county shelter from 68 percent to less than 1 percent ...

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Our dynamic team works so hard and loves these animals so much. Our wonderful veterinary community helps us in every way to get our animals' injuries and illnesses repaired and ready to be adopted. We also provide behavioral work for our doggies and kitties that need help before they are ready for adoption.

We receive so many compliments on the animals that people adopt. It is absolute bliss when a new adopter sends us pictures of them having a good time with their new pet. One dog that had belonged to a jail inmate ­— and was then bounced all over the place through no fault of its own — was finally adopted by a man who sent us a picture of him and (his dog) Diesel on a paddle board having a blast. This melts our hearts; there is no better feeling than to know we played a big role in moving this dog from a crappy life to a blessed life. This happens with our cats and horses and others too.

One lady from Roseville told us that in adopting her new pet she visited 12 shelters and observed that Sammie's Friends was light years above the rest when it came to care of the animals, customer service and helping select the right pet for them and their family. We are proud of what we have done.

Here's what you might like to know and very well may not know. While only operating the shelter for the past eight years we have subsidized the medical care of the shelter animals since 2001. We began the volunteer program in 2001 and since then have utilized at least 1,000 volunteers to walk our dogs, clean cat kennels and cuddle our cats, and provide office support.

Since 2001, about 175,200 kitty kennels have been cleaned by volunteers and dog walkers have walked around the earth three times. The volunteers have answered about 117,000 phone calls. Yikes!

Sammie's Friends became an official 501(c)(3) in 2004. It was started to pay the veterinary bills of shelter animals (before that, only $50 was allotted for each animal). Any sick or injured animal was euthanized; without money for care, that was the only option.

Sammie's Friends has significantly impacted this community. Since 2001, Sammie's Friends has contributed $3,190,100 to help the shelter animals and disadvantaged animals in our community. Eighty percent ($2,580,100) was spent on shelter animals and 20 percent ($645,000) was spent on animals in the community, preventing further suffering, turn-ins to the shelter or euthanasia.

Sammie's Friends has raised around $300,000 since 2011 to spay/neuter community animals, representing approximately 7,500 spays/neuters. We delivered food to the animals of North San Juan every month for nearly 13 years. Another nonprofit now administers this program.

Sammie's Friends has made significant improvements to the County Shelter property. We received a grant for $155,000 to create our new cat facility, giving the cats great relief from barking dogs and from tiny kennels they could not even walk in. We also created a new play yard for the dogs and two smaller yards for small dogs and puppies. Sammie's Friends founder paid to build a facility in Penn Valley called Sammie's Pit Stop, where our behaviorist can take shelter dogs and community dogs with behavioral issues and work with them intensively.

We have no illusions that we could have done this without massive support from the community.

The money doesn't grow on trees, it comes from the generosity of many. Collectively our volunteers put in nearly as much time as the Shelter's paid staff. We provided the vision and the leadership and you did the rest. We can never thank you enough for what you all have done to improve the lives of the animals in Nevada County.

With your help, we hope to continue to make life great for the animals.

Cheryl Wicks is the co-founder and president of Sammie's Friends, a nonprofit that operates the Nevada County Animal Shelter.