Benefit set for nonprofit saving animals from euthanization

Benefit set for nonprofit saving animals from euthanization
Volunteer Alisa Trejo (right) turns over 8-day-old Parker to Rochelle Bowman, a SPOT foster with experience bottle-feeding puppies. SPOT co-founders Kris Nelson and Elaine Godzak credit volunteers and fosters with being the backbone of SPOT. Photo by Lillian Cox

OCEANSIDE — Two years ago, artist Kris Nelson became an animal activist after the San Diego Humane Society acquired the North County Humane Society. A former NCHS volunteer herself, Nelson said she began hearing complaints from other volunteers, including Elaine Godzak, that rescue groups were no longer allowed to pull adoptable pets from the shelter. Consequently, many more animals were being euthanized.

Nelson didn’t just get mad, she put her career on hold. With Godzak, they founded SPOT (Saving Pets One at a Time). To date, the nonprofit has pulled and placed 524 pets from local shelters, many with special needs such as broken jaws, broken limbs and other conditions that would most likely result in euthanasia.

SPOT is asking for the community’s support by attending a fundraising lunch at Outback Steakhouse from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 11. Choice of entrees includes steak, chicken, salmon or vegetarian plate. Cost is $20 for adults, $10 for children under 10. Proceeds go directly to rescuing shelter animals.

Kris Nelson feeds Parker, an 8-day-old puppy found in a paper bag in a park in East County two weeks ago. Nelson is co-founder of SPOT (Saving Pets One at a Time) a nonprofit that rescues special needs pets like Parker. Photo by Lillian Cox

“The only operational expenses we have are postage and copying,” Nelson said. “We are a lean, mean adoption machine.”

The event will include door prizes, raffle prizes and a silent auction. Items being offered include golf at Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, a two-night stay at the Sheraton Carlsbad, a painting by Nancy Waite Parke and themed gift baskets.

“If you want to

support SPOT, but are unable to attend, you can purchase tickets which will be given to Marine families through the Armed Services YMCA,” Nelson said. “Last year 66 tickets went to Marines.”

Another way the public can help is by volunteering to foster animals. A loving home environment helps animals recover from shelter stress that can cause even the best-tempered pets to become mentally unstable, one of the most common reasons pets are euthanized.

“Fosters are the lifeblood of SPOT because it gets animals out of the shelter and allows them to decompress,” Nelson said. “I wish we could find more fosters.”

SPOT provides foster and adoption families with a bed, kennel/crate, food, toys and treats as well as consultations with dog trainers. SPOT volunteers are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“When we adopt out a cat or dog, it’s understood that the first two weeks are a test run, and if it doesn’t work out we refund the adoption fee and take back the animal,” Nelson said.

These days Nelson devotes eight to 12 hours a day to SPOT. Much of her time is spent on Craigslist, where she sells her art, then uses the money to purchase pet food and supplies, and underwrite the cost of spay and neutering.

“If we can eliminate the high ‘accidental’ litter rate, then fewer animals would be going to shelters, and puppies wouldn’t be left in paper bags,” she said.

Volunteer Alisa Trejo (right) turns over 8-day-old Parker to Rochelle Bowman, a SPOT foster with experience bottle-feeding puppies. SPOT co-founders Kris Nelson and Elaine Godzak credit volunteers and fosters with being the backbone of SPOT. Photo by Lillian Cox

Two weeks ago a week-old puppy was abandoned in a paper bag at a park in East County. A Good Samaritan took the puppy to San Diego County Animal Services, which transferred it to their North Shelter. They, in turn, contacted SPOT because the puppy needed to be bottle fed.

“That puppy (now called ‘Parker’) is a perfect example of an owner’s solution to an accidental litter,” Nelson said, adding that many shelters would have just euthanized the puppy.

“The North Shelter has been wonderful,” she said. “If they have a special needs animal they call us.”

Carlsbad City Councilman Keith Blackburn is a regular volunteer at the North Shelter.

“We run into special-needs dogs like Parker who are quite adoptable except that the shelter has run out of space,” he said. “I had a dog with kennel cough and asked SPOT for help. They got him healthy, then returned him to the shelter for adoption. I’ve asked SPOT to do this for me several times, and they’ve never said ‘no.’”

Looking back, Nelson has no complaints about foregoing her art career in favor of helping pets. “It’s energizing, and rewarding, and brings out all the good things about people and animals you could imagine,” she said.

For more information about fostering, volunteering, making a donation or purchasing a ticket to the fundraiser, visit SpotSavesPets.org, call (760) 593-7768 or email info@spotsavespets.org.

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