It’s raining pennies for dogs and cats in Curry County this week.
Both animal shelters in the county — Pennies for Pooches in Gold Beach and the South Coast Humane Society in Brookings — received anonymous holiday donations of $2,500 this week in the mail.
“Oh, my goodness; we were so happy,” said Pennies for Pooches President Eric Bryant. “We’re really pleased with the community support we have.”
South Coast Humane Society Director Tanya Collins said they’ve been equally endowed with gifts for the critters at that facility.
Girls at Azalea Middle School late last month donated more than 400 pounds of dog and cat food, 100 leashes, collars and bowls to the shelter. And Charlize Nolte, a 10-year-old Brookings girl, plans to continue for a second year the donation of all her Christmas presidents to the shelter.
“She’s asking her friends and family to donate money or animal toys and other things to the shelter,” Collins said. “We’ll open the presents on Christmas day — and it’s like the (animals) know. It makes us feel good.”
A “wishing tree,” a wish list of items needed at the shelter, is available at the shelter on Railroad Avenue.
Pennies for Pooches was averaging $1,000 a day in holiday donations as of Tuesday.
That group’s solicitation effort started last year with a Christmas Card Fundraiser, in which a letter was drafted outlining the accomplishments and future goals of the nonprofit animal shelter. This year, the organization sent out 550 cards with the letter and an envelope in which people could send donations.
“And we got $2,500 today — in the mail,” Bryant said Monday. “We love it when we get surprises in the mail, or when people bring in donations of toys, food, rawhide chews. … It’s amazing the support that’s out there; all the people who want this organization to succeed.”
Pennies for Pooches faced challenges from the beginning, when it was spun off to a non-profit agency from the county as part of the government’s cuts to salvage its budget last year.
Under the leadership of Director Catherine Powers, who died unexpectedly late this summer, the shelter was able to save dozens of dogs from high-kill shelters in California and finding homes for them in Curry County and the Medford area.
Powers also started the cat shelter, run out of a building owned by a shelter supporter.
“We see a need to centralize operations at one location,” Bryant said in his letter. The organization has secured property rights for a cat shelter adjacent to the dogs, but funding the construction and operations remains uncertain.
“We also have some mandatory projects ahead that will require substantial financial resources,” he wrote. “These are in addition to the already high costs of running an animal shelter — utilities, food, insurance, veterinary care and medical supplies. We run primarily by volunteers, but volunteerism alone is not enough to take us forward. We rely on funding from donations and fundraisers to keep us operating.”
The agency has received 25 applications to take over Powers’ director’s role, have conducted seven interviews and hope to fill the position by the beginning of the year.
“Even though we suffered a huge loss, we continue to move forward and be proactive in upholding Catherine’s vision and values,” Bryant said. “While we won’t be able to ‘replace’ her, in 2014, we will unite behind a new leader who will uphold our mission and take our organization forward. I think if you could spend a day with us, you would be really proud of how we operate.”
Those wishing to donate to Pennies for Pooches can mail checks to PO Box 1883, Gold Beach, OR 97444. Donations to the South Coast Humane Society, a non-profit dog and cat shelter in Brookings, can be made to PO Box 7833, Brookings, OR 97415. Those wishing to select a “wish” from the shelter’s tree can visit it at 828 Railroad Ave.