Palo Cedro’s pet rescue struggles to stay afloat during COVID-19 crisis

Debi Leja’s roommates have no intention of practicing social distancing. They prefer to collapse on his knees or rub against his heels.

Leja and a handful of other Spay Neuter and Protect (SNAP) volunteers, take care of many foster animals in cat and dog rescue at their homes. They also do relays, going back and forth to SNAP’s Palo Cedro facility to take care of the animals housed there.

Now they have to top up the childcare costs while the SNAP thrift store, which generates 40% of its income, is closed during the stay at home.

With the chests empty, they also had to turn away people who wanted to buy discount sterilization / sterilization vouchers. SNAP was unable to cover the balance.

It could be in July before the state allows the reopening of non-essential businesses like the SNAP thrift store. Leja isn’t sure if this will happen if the donations don’t pile up.

Although some donations of food and bedding arrive, they are not enough to compensate for what volunteers pay to support the animals they care for, Leja said. These include the spring litters of rescued pregnant or lactating cats.

It will be weeks before the 29 kittens and five SNAP volunteer mothers currently in foster care are ready for adoption. Eight of the kittens need to be bottle-fed.

“Our greatest need is for bottles and teats, and KMR (milk substitute),” said Leja.

While adoption is part of SNAP’s mission – it housed 254 cats and dogs in 2019 – its main goal is to provide vouchers to the public. It distributed 1,300 vouchers in 2019, covering 65% of the costs of veterinary sterilization and sterilization to customers.

Funding for this program has run out at this time.

Pet populations can suffer, Leja said. Cats can have two litters per year for ten years, and it doesn’t take long for their kittens to start having their own litters.

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While Leja becomes attached to the kittens, seeing one go to a good home “is the best feeling, and it makes room for the next homeless cat,” she said.

Call 547-2050 or go to to donate, adopt a pet, volunteer or for more information on SNAP.

Jessica Skropanic is a reporter for the Record Searchlight / USA Today Network. She covers lifestyle and entertainment stories, and a weekly art reporting date. Follow her on twitter @RS_JSkropanic and on Facebook. Join Jessica in the Get out! Nor Cal Facebook recreation group. To support and perpetuate this work, please subscribe today. Thank you.

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