Upland cuts animal shelter budget

Friends of Upland Animal Shelter volunteer Nancy Wiegenstein has seasonal dog clothes in the backseat of her truck for sheltered dogs of every size to wear. Once clothed, Wiegenstein uses a black blanket as a background and poses dogs on the blanket to publish photographs of the stylish pups online in hopes that they will be adopted quickly. One-year-old Chihuahua mix, April, models a Halloween outfit at the Friends of Upland Animal Shelter in Upland Friday./ photo by Karla Rendon
Friends of Upland Animal Shelter volunteer Nancy Wiegenstein has seasonal dog clothes in the backseat of her truck for sheltered dogs of every size to wear. Once clothed, Wiegenstein uses a black blanket as a background and poses dogs on the blanket to publish photographs of the stylish pups online in hopes that they will be adopted quickly. One-year-old Chihuahua mix, April, models a Halloween outfit at the Friends of Upland Animal Shelter in Upland Friday. / photo by Karla Rendon

Taylor Bolanos
Staff Writer

After the Upland city council announced a budget cut of 41 percent for the Animal Services Department, the Upland Animal Shelter is struggling to stay afloat.

Jon Knowlton, shelter director, said the budget cut, as voted on in a 3-2 council vote, will be enacted early next year.

The cuts will not allow the shelter to continue offering quality service nor maintain its low-kill policy.

Knowlton said the budget cut adds to approximately $580,000 and will take “this department back to the 1900s when it was catch and kill.”

The shelter staff goes above and beyond its job descriptions, often personally fostering several young animals at once.

However, with only seven employees and approximately 90 volunteers each week, “we are already at a skeleton crew,” Knowlton said.

The staff faces the reality that the animals they care for and grow to love will eventually have to be euthanized because the shelter will not have the means to care for or house them all. “It’s very draining … we are all going home almost crying,” Peggy Norris, one of the caretakers at the shelter, said. Norris answers calls to pick up strays around the city and becomes emotionally attached to the animals she saves. “I can’t even go through the shelter sometimes,” Norris said.

She said it is impossible not to be affected by each of the animals that she cares for.

“All the springtime babies will not be fostered,” Arlene Salassi, receptionist and caretaker said. “They’ll be taken behind that counter and euthanized.”

After waiting to work at the Upland facility for years, Salassi has helped save dogs and cats at the shelter since it opened in 2010. She and the other staff members must now expect the worst.

Despite the labor-intensive hours spent at the shelter, Norris and Salassi personally foster animals in their homes as well.

“We do that because we love them. It’s what we do,” Salassi said.

While the budget is scheduled to be lowered, the Upland Animal Shelter continues to be part of many fundraising ventures and opportunities. Originally, these supportive events were only meant to provide additional funds for the shelter’s extra needs.

Unfortunately now, every event is needed to simply keep the shelter running daily.

The volunteer group, Friends of Upland Animal Shelter, also supports the shelter with membership plans and donations as well as volunteer positions in the shelter.

The shelter sponsors many fundraising events, including yard sales, the Spring Pet Fair, and receives generous donation from Western University, local stores and private parties.

Members of the community can also sponsor an animal at the shelter by donating.

The Animal Shelter also holds adoptions at the Petco in Montclair every weekend.

The Upland Animal Shelter Thrift Store is scheduled to open at the beginning of October, which will be supported by community donations.

Cyclinsanity will also hold a charity bike ride Sept. 27 in La Verne to promote donations for the shelter.

Every Wednesday, Blue Iris Productions in Upland also holds “Yoga for the Animals,” to gain awareness for the shelter’s needs and gather donations.

For information on any of these events, visit friendsofuplandanimalshelter.com.

To donate, visit gofundme.com/uplandanimals or the shelter’s website to arrange reoccurring donations.

Taylor Bolanos can be reached at taylor.bolanos@laverne.edu.

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