Every story has a beginning, middle, and an end. Though PALS’ story is far from ending, we are preparing to enter our next exciting chapter, and so we’d like to take a moment to share with you where we’ve been, where we are now, and where we’re heading.
Throughout the years, it’s always been about the animals.
Like most non-profits, PALS started with a simple idea and a desire to help out in the community. For PALS founders, Nancy Alumbaugh and Daunis Bradshaw, the desire was to help the homeless and abandoned animals of Lodi, and the idea was to do so by supporting the Lodi Animal Shelter. And, so, in 2004, PALS (People Assisting Lodi Shelter) was formed, and would shortly thereafter be granted 501(c) 3 status.
In the beginning, PALS had no building to call our own; many of those who would become PALS volunteers had been volunteering at the Lodi Animal Shelter already, and after PALS was formed, we continued to do so in many capacities, even fostering animals in our own homes. Shortly after forming, PALS would enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Lodi, authorizing PALS to undertake fundraising, and perform pet adoptions, out of the Lodi Animal Shelter. In addition to our countless volunteer hours cleaning cages and kennels, feeding the animals, socializing the animals, and walking dogs, PALS, through its fundraising efforts, also provided vaccinations, microchips, FELV/FIV testing for cats, and other special medical needs, for all shelter animals.
But, there was still so much more that needed to be done. Plans to build a new Animal Shelter in Lodi were continually being placed on the backburner, and the current facility, which was built in the 1960s, was in serious need of upgrades. Inadequate housing space for stray and abandoned animals was also a concern.
As plans for a new shelter continued to stall, PALS looked for other ways to help alleviate the space shortage at the shelter. In 2006, Bill and Carol Meehleis, of Meehleis Modular, donated an existing modular building, and moved it to its current location next to the Lodi Animal Shelter. That same year, through a generous grant awarded to PALS by the Lions Club’s “Lions Love Lodi” grant program, PALS was able to erect four large covered outdoor kennels, behind the new PALS building, as well as the PALS sign along Kettleman Lane; an additional five kennels, for smaller dogs, would be added the following year.
While it was nice to have a PALS building, it was an empty shell at first. Fitting it out would require much more fundraising, and generous donations from local businesses, and individuals, for it to fully materialize into the PALS shelter and adoption center it is today. Generous donations allowed PALS to construct four cat rooms inside the building, where cats can live and socialize with one another in a more natural setting. An additional generous donation from Terri and Toni Clark allowed for the construction of the “Meet & Greet” room, where potential adopters can spend some time to get to know the animals they’re looking to adopt. Other necessities such as a refrigerator were donated by Lowes, and a washer and dryer were donated by Jenny Lind.
Through its fundraising efforts, and the generous donations of those in Lodi, and surrounding communities, PALS was also able to make upgrades to the Lodi Animal Shelter itself, including a fresh paint job, a new air conditioning unit, and a 100’ long decorative iron fenced-in dog-run along the south wall of the Lodi Animal Shelter, which PALS volunteers use daily to walk both PALS’ dogs, and shelter dogs; PALS would also be the first recipient of funding from the Art in Public Places Fund when their public art project, a mural that runs along the south wall of the Lodi Animal Shelter, was approved by the Lodi Art Advisory Board in 2007.
Further strengthening our ties, and our commitment, to the Lodi Animal Shelter, PALS would create LSP (Lodi Shelter PALS) in 2009 in order to staff the shelter’s front office. LSP’s staffing of the Lodi Animal Shelter’s front office allows the shelter to offer adoptions to the public six days a week. LSP staff also tracks adoptions, and the licensing of cats and dogs within Lodi.
It has been a long journey, from those early days to where we are now. We’ve saved the lives of countless cats and dogs. And, we know we couldn’t have done it without the tireless efforts of all of our volunteers who have given, and continue to give, untold hours of their time to this endeavor. Nor could we have come this far without the generous financial support of our many event sponsors, benefactors, and community members. Your generosity has truly been a blessing.
In partnership with the Lodi Animal Shelter, we have made great inroads into cutting down on the needless deaths of companion animals in Lodi, through education, rehabilitation, and the adoptions of our furry friends into good homes. Many challenges have presented themselves through the years, and PALS, with the support of our volunteers, and the generosity of our donors, has met each one of them head-on. Today, one of the greatest challenges facing both the Lodi Animal Shelter, and our own PALS facility, is the lack of adequate housing space. It does not appear, still, that a new animal shelter is a high priority for the City of Lodi, even though the current shelter was built in the 1960’s, when Lodi’s population was fewer than thirty-thousand. Today, Lodi’s population is twice that, and then some, and as the human population has increased, so too has the animal population. PALS’ own facility has had cages, and cat towers, added to every available space they possibly could be; there simply isn’t any where else to add housing.
There is a solution though, and as with the many other challenges PALS has faced through the years, we’re ready to meet this one head-on as well!
PALS Haven, a modern shelter and adoption center, and the answer to our housing shortage problem, has been in the planning stages for several years. Set to be built on 2 acres of land, graciously donated to PALS by the fine people at Sycamore Lane Kennels and Farm, PALS Haven will serve both as a sanctuary, and an adoption center. In addition to kennels that can house 43 dogs, and indoor space to house 50 cats, PALS Haven will also have its own veterinary facility, including an operating room, and quarantine bays, which will help PALS significantly reduce medical care costs. As a testament to our strong and continuing ties, and commitment, to the Lodi Animal Shelter, our current PALS facility will continue to operate in conjunction with the Lodi Animal Shelter.
A significant portion of the funds needed to realize the dream of PALS Haven has already been raised. At PALS, we have always taken great care to ensure that all donor dollars are put to their best possible use, and that no money goes to waste. In light of this, despite not having raised all of the necessary funds for PALS Haven, we felt it was necessary to move forward with this project as our construction permits were set to expire; renewing these construction permits would have added significant costs to this project. And, so, ground was finally broken on PALS Haven earlier this month!
It is a truly exciting time for us here at PALS. But, that excitement is tempered by the fact that there is still much more work to be done to raise the funds necessary to complete this undertaking. In the coming weeks PALS will be announcing a major online PALS Haven fundraising campaign, though there’s no need to wait until then to start donating toward this fund. Donations can currently be made online, via PayPal at the PALS’ website, palslodi.org, or in person, cash or check; simply make sure to note that the donation is to be used for the PALS Haven project by typing “Capital Campaign” in the Special Instruction box on PayPal, or by writing “Capital Campaign” in the Notes section of your check. You can also help PALS by spreading the word, to family, friends, co-workers, and anyone else you can think of, that PALS is in need of their financial generosity. Together, we can make PALS Haven a reality, and save the lives of so many more animals in need.