Kathy Monteiro: United in supporting Sammie’s Friends at the shelter | TheUnion.com

Kathy Monteiro: United in supporting Sammie’s Friends at the shelter

Other Voices
Kathy Monteiro

Sammie's Friends is currently in exclusive negotiation with Nevada County to continue running the shelter, due to the overwhelming support from the community, and as we were told, the Board of Supervisors.

The function of the Coalition of Animal Welfare and Support, is to unite the many local animal rescues and individual animal advocates into one strong voice to eliminate animal abuse/neglect as well as support animal related issues in our county.

United, we have accomplished great strides working with the District Attorney, Animal Control and the Sheriff. Government officials are elected to represent the wants and needs of their constituents, and as the largest voting block of thousands in Nevada County, our agenda of protecting animals has never been in question. Politically, animal advocates are Republicans, Democrats and Independents, male and female of all ages and socio-economic groups. They are supporters of many other worthy causes and people who will stand up for their convictions. While we may disagree with each other on politics in general, we are proudly committed to animal welfare.

There have been many local animal issues that we have supported, but none as important as Sammie's Friend's contract with the county. We are extremely fortunate that we have a model animal shelter, recognized as such. Therefore, we are anxiously waiting for and monitoring the contract negotiation.

It is important for information to be revealed that perhaps has not been in the forefront of this negotiation/decision. For years, Sammie's Friend's founders, Curt and Cheryl, have subsidized the shelter, contributing their own funds and raising money through their nonprofit to provide quality care for the animals. To date, this effort represents over $3 million. For years Curt and Cheryl have collected a salary equal to the rent of a one-bedroom apartment to run the shelter. Clearly it has been a labor of love, along with the time and dedication of hundreds of volunteers. Cheryl and Curt have presented a budget to the county based on realistic need and long-term considerations. For example, these two septuagenarians will need to have the funds to hire new talent to insure success for the shelter in the future.

It should be evident that the county does not want to take back running the shelter, as they did in the past. Those were dark days for animals with thousands of unadopted animals killed, conditions lacking, and Animal Control that was out of control. Since circumstances in recent years have made a 180-degree turnaround, why would we want to revert to what didn't work?

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It is evident that this collaboration with a nonprofit has been successful and cost effective and that community engagement has made a difference. If the county were to take back the shelter, costs would dramatically increase as more people would need to be hired and even more funds set aside for retirement accounts. And obviously, even under the best of intentions, the care for the animals would suffer under government control. There was talk that another county might take over the shelter. There are too many problem issues with this idea to discuss here, but currently that idea has been wisely abandoned.

For every reason that makes sense, Sammie's Friends must continue with the shelter.

Their contract expires next month, and we call on our elected officials to negotiate a long-term contract that insures we keep a revered, successful, and nationally recognized shelter in place. It is a feather in the cap for our county and good for the animals. Although they can't speak for themselves, we join together to speak for them.

Kathy Monteiro

Coalition of Welfare and Support director

Carolyn Niehaus

AnimalSave director

Cheryl Wicks and Curt Romander

Sammie's Friends founders

Susan Wallace

Scooter's Pals founder/director

Kimberley Sturla

Animal Place founder/director

JP Novic

Center for Animal Protection and Education founder/director

Pamela Gorman

Rescue For Pets Sake founder/director

Patti Galle

Nevada County Pets in Need founder/director