CAC employees lend a hand for canine friends

CASA GRANDE, Ariz. - As Ramon Garcia trenched through a 700-foot section of dirt at the Valley Humane Society in Casa Grande, curious canine onlookers tried to figure out how they could help this potential new playmate.

Since he doesn't speak canine, Garcia couldn't articulate to the peppy pooches that they were getting their very own shady playground and water supply.Valley Human Society

On Saturday, Aug. 20, volunteers and local businesses converged on the Valley Humane Society - located at 15699 W. Aniceto Road near Interstate 8 and South Trekell Road - to begin landscaping the facility that will bring a little shade and a lot fun for animals waiting to find permanent families.

"We are landscaping the existing bark park so our dogs will have a place to exercise in a shady area," Stella Garcia, Ramon's wife and a community volunteer who helped spearhead the project with Sami Abbott, Cindy Sutton and Stacey Ivey, explained. "The Valley Humane Society board members and volunteers are very thankful to the businesses for their contributions."

Abbott, the Garcias, and additional volunteers Gary and Rose Lauber, submitted a landscaping and capital improvement proposal to the local Valley Humane Society board of directors that was approved during the organization's July meeting.

Stella Garcia, who works in the media and community events office, and Gary Lauber, who works in the finance department, both are employees of Central Arizona College.

The project involved labor, as well as securing donations to bring the park to fruition.

"Sami Abbott, Cindy Sutton and Stacey Ivey took on the responsibility of visiting various businesses to obtain donations of trees and equipment needed to beautify and shade the location," Garcia said.

Local businesses that assisted with this project included:
• Harold Christ, owner of Florence Farms Nursery and the past president of the Central Arizona College Foundation, donated 26 shade trees
• Ramon G. Garcia provided the labor by trenching 700 feet and installing the drip system
• High Grade Rentals and Sales furnished the trencher
• Greg Perez, Epifini Landscaping, Inc., from Casa Grande, assisted with the digging and planting of the trees
• Ron Wallace and the Casa Grande Rotary Club members provided helpers and shovels
• Pinal County Community & Services provided helpers with shovels
• Jim Jepson, Vern Johnson and many others assisted with purchases or donated vegetation and time

The mission of the Valley Humane Society is to provide a safe haven for unwanted or abandoned pets in Pinal County, to return lost pets to their rightful owners, to place animals in loving adoptive homes and prevent the overpopulation of dogs and cats through spay and neuter programs.

Founded in 1966, the Valley Humane Society is a private, non-profit 501 c (3) organization that accepts nearly 1000 unwanted pets each year. These pets are surrendered to VHS, usually by their owners, who can no longer care for them. A small percentage of the pets are found as strays.

Many impounded animals in city and county shelters often have three to 10 days where they are available for adoption, while VHS animals may be sheltered for several months.

Located on three acres of land in Casa Grande, the Valley Humane Society shelter cares for up to 50 dogs and 30 cats at a time, and occasionally other pets such as hamsters, ferrets, guinea pigs, rabbits and birds. Each year VHS needs a minimum of $140,000 to provide these animals with basic food, housing, health care and protection from cruelty and other dangers.

As the only non-profit Humane Society in Pinal County, VHS receives absolutely no public funding from any government source or from any other animal welfare organization - national or local. The shelter survives solely on donations, memberships, sponsor contributions, and the generosity of local businesses and the general public.

The Valley Humane Society asks members of the community to share in its vision that healthy companion animals should not be put to death for lack of a home, lack of shelter space, or lack of compassion. VHS accepts a variety of donations and asks the public to consider adopting a pet from its care.

Cash Donations - Monetary donations are always gratefully accepted to help fund ongoing costs for animal health care, supplies, shelter maintenance and utilities.

Yard Sale/Thrift Store Items - Gently used furniture, house hold items, working electronics, bedding and towels, children's clothing and toys, bicycles, kitchen items, working tools.

Pet Food and Treats - Due to VHS' agreement with Hill's Science Diet, it cannot accept donations of dry pet food for use at the shelter. Donations of dry food are donated to animal control departments or to a needy pet owner. The Valley Humane Society gratefully accepts canned pet food of any variety, and pet treats.

"If you are interested in volunteering, we have lots of smiling faces and wiggling tails waiting to greet you," Garcia said. "The staff and pets greatly appreciate your time and efforts."

The community can help out in many ways. Because VHS staff members are extremely busy with the day-to-day operations of maintaining the shelter, cleaning, running the office, answering phones and caring for the animals, any additional help from volunteers is welcome - and needed.

"Some examples of how people can help out include walking, petting and playing with the dogs and puppies," Garcia said. "Snuggling, petting and playing with the cats and kittens is always enjoyable for people. Brushing and bathing the animal, being a foster owner for a very young, a very old or a recovering animal, and helping with fundraising events, are all ways people can help out."

Serving as assistants for PetSmart adoption events, cleaning, maintenance, yard work, weed removal, and thrift store attendants all are needed.

The Valley Human Society shelter is open to the public Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. The shelter is closed on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and major holidays. Animal surrender is by appointment only.

For more information, please contact VHS by phone at 520-836-0904, or by e-mail at vhsanimals@yahoo.com.

Central Arizona College - District Office 8470 N. Overfield Road, Coolidge, AZ 85128 Phone: 800-237-9814