The Coast News Group
Barbara Mannino, retired CEO of the Vista Community Clinic, is shown with her three rescue dogs, Collyn, Chelsea and Carly. She says that giving back to organizations like the Animal Rescue Resource Foundation is a passion. Courtesy photo
Community Vista

Vista resident pays it forward by helping animal-rescue nonprofit

Having worked in Vista for the past three decades, former Vista Community Clinic CEO Barbara Mannino continues to pay it forward while enjoying her retirement. Also a Vista resident and avid animal lover, Mannino does what she can to help animals in need. One organization she has partnered with is the San Diego-based nonprofit Animal Rescue Resource Foundation.

Mannino describes Animal Rescue Resource Foundation as a wonderful organization that is committed to supporting animal welfare groups, rescuing animals, helping to find them forever homes and educating the public on the importance of spaying and neutering their pets.

The foundation was founded in 2007.

Mannino said she adopted one of her dogs from the organization many years ago. In fact, her current three dogs are all rescues.

“When I retired at the end of 2012, I wanted to give back to the community in a different way, so I contacted ARRF about starting to volunteer with them,” she said, adding that she also volunteers at the Department of Animal Services in Carlsbad. 

A part of what Mannino does at Animal Rescue Resource Foundation is taking animals that have been abandoned or relinquished from the Carlsbad Animal Shelter to adoption events.

And she loves it.

The adoption events are held twice a month each at a different locale. One location is PetSmart in Encinitas on Saturday, and the other is Unleashed by Petco in San Diego on Sunday.

The adoption outing is a great experience for both the animals and their future pet parents, she said.

“Even if the dogs don’t get adopted, they at least get out of the shelter for a few hours and have some relief,” she said.   

Mannino pointed out that not many people know that Animal Rescue Resource Foundation is run entirely by volunteers. So, it depends on its volunteers and is in desperate need of people to foster animals.

“There are so many animals that need to get out of the shelters,” she said. “It’s really important to get animals into foster care, and particularly dogs because they become kennel stressed.”

Mannino explained that when dogs experience kennel stress, some behaviors may surface which may cause them to become less adoptable. So, timing is everything.

“It’s better to get these animals into a family or home-like environment so they can thrive, and people can see what they’re really like,” she said.

Mannino admits she has been an animal lover from as far back as she can remember. She always has had animals in her life and cannot imagine a life without them.

“Animals are so loving — they give you unconditional love and make you happy when you’re sad, she said. “They take care of you in the same way you take care of them.”

Bernice Friedman, president of the foundation, said the mission of the nonprofit has been unwavering in helping to help save the lives of unwanted, domestic animals in San Diego County.

“We have connections with the Humane Society and the county shelters who do let us know when animals are in need of an exit to see if we have a foster home available,” she said. “We try very hard to take in that animal that will fit into that environment of the foster, keep them and make sure they are as healthy as possible. If they need any medical care, we pay for that.”

Friedman said if a foster home is not immediately available, they make an announcement on their website as well as network with other volunteers.

Another portion of the work they do is spending time with people who may be facing challenges with the animals they already own.

“If they’re having behavioral problems, we try to get them into contact with somebody who can help them,” she said, adding that dog training is essential for a dog and their family. 

For those who volunteer at Animal Rescue Resource Foundation, and to those who support it another way, everyone wants to help make an animal’s once uncertain life become certain once again.

Mannino said the foundation has a tremendous need for volunteers and that the nonprofit helps pay for the medical needs of a pet.

“If you can’t give of your time, please give of your resources,” Mannino said. “Any amount of dollars will help take care of these animals.”

ARFF Adoption Days take place at PetSmart located at 1034 North El Camino Real in Encinitas and Unleash by Petco at 10625 Scripps Poway Parkway in San Diego. The next adoption event is on Aug. 25 at Encinitas PetSmart from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For information on volunteer opportunities and how to financially contribute to Animal Rescue Resource Foundation, visit or call (760) 414-3966.