Above are: Adam McPhail (ACO), Clara Behrens, James Greenhill, Suzanne Soprano, Karen Klingberg, Talia Wunder, Council Member Fred Robinson, Diane Rowley, Holly Graczyk, Richard Glenn, Meghan Mendoza, Misty Glenn and Interim Police Chief Ish Cordero.

SPARC: Ribbon-cutting collars supporters of VC’s first no-kill shelter

June 06, 2012
Santa Paula News

The ribbon cutting collared supporters of Ventura County’s first no-kill animal shelter when people brought their pets and doggone good wishes to the Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center (SPARC), which welcomed visitors to Ventura County’s first no-kill animal shelter Saturday.

SPARC had its celebration less than a week before its June 1 opening, when it welcomed stray and abandoned dogs and cats as well as other animals needing temporary care while they wait for a loving home. SPARC President Diane Rowley was busy giving visitors tours of the facility located on the corner of East Santa Barbara and 7th streets, formerly a long vacant retail complex now filling up with tenants. 

City Councilman Fred Robinson was impressed on the timeliness of the opening: “They put it together so fast,” he said of the volunteers that transformed the corner building and grounds into a welcoming shelter for pets. “I wish them well... they successfully took care of the noise,” a potential issue.

“It’s a nice project and Santa Paula came together to do it right and,” noted Robinson, “do it locally.” And at a great cost saving to the city.

After about 18 months of work by Police Chief Steve MacKinnon and SPARC, Santa Paula cancelled its contract with Ventura County Animal Control Services at a savings of at least $40,000 annually. Localizing services as well revenue sharing with SPARC for animal services, including licensing and fees associated with reclaiming lost pets, are just several facets of the center that will also offer a variety of programs. The shelter will also offer referrals for spaying and neutering, key to controlling the population of unwanted pets. 

Saturday’s celebration featured a Jolly Jump for the kids, various booths featuring accessories, service providers and art centered on animals, a Moose Lodge BBQ (the organization’s headquarters is directly across the street from SPARC), which also benefited the shelter, and plenty of guests that brought their furry friends to help celebrate. Santa Paula elected officials were outgunned by two Ventura City Councilmen - Carl Morehouse and Neal Andrews - who attended. 

Acting Police Chief Ishmael Cordero said the renovated SPARC facility is “pretty impressive.” 

Many people dressed for the occasion wearing their most fun animal themed outfits, including Santa Paula Planning Director Janna Minsk who wore cat earrings. Once the proposed facility was identified, Minsk started meeting with Santa Paula Police Department and SPARC members, “to see how we could make it all work... and I’m delighted it turned out so well,” including that the long neglected corner fronting the bicycle trail is now spruced up.

One new tenant is Happy Tails owned by Tina White, who had a booth at the celebration. White also owns Ventura-based Pet Barn, and she said Happy Tails - whose signage notes “for Happy Tales” - would open hopefully by mid-June. 

White had samples of what will be available in the new shop specializing in animal foods and supplies, and noted, “It’s a smaller store, but part of our proceeds will go to SPARC,” just as her larger Pet Barn also supports rescue operations. 

SPARC Board Director Talia Wunder had a booth for her boutique, The Best of VC Marketplace, the table decorated with many custom made pet related items. “I’m so excited the SPARC facility has turned out so well... it’s 500 percent better” from the neglected building volunteers first saw and envisioned as the future home of the shelter. 

With the various rooms in the main facility - from the free-roaming cat room to the veterinarian examination areas, where animals will be determined to be healthy and inoculated before being allowed to meet other shelter pets - the building was jammed with visitors, many eager to sign up as volunteers for the shelter or find other ways of offering support.

Rowley said SPARC will also be offering education and training for owners who adopt shelter animals, as well as adopting a “very, very aggressive promotion campaign” of services, programs and adoption opportunities. “I’m really excited and have been running around like a ninny,” said Rowley. “We’ve been jumping last minute hurdles... but it all came together, it was meant to be. We’ll be open June 1 at 12:01 a.m.”

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