Animal shelter’s work never done
RP shelter supervisor Mickey Zeldes and crew make adoptions a priority in tough fiscal times
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By Natalie Gray  July 5, 2013 12:00 am

“Animals in, animals out; that’s our motto. Every adoption puts a smile on our face,” said Mickey Zeldes, Rohnert Park Animal Shelter Supervisor and City Animal Control Officer. 

The motto appears to be taken to heart by the shelter and, of course, by Zeldes, who wears colorful cat earrings and casually strokes a tuxedoed cat, appropriately named Mr. Bond, roaming the shelter’s break room.

It is no secret the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter goes above and beyond for its animals; a well-groomed mustache didn’t earn Mr. Bond any special treatment above the other animals. Cats are left in designated rooms with cage doors open to play and socialize with each other and interested owners. Dogs are walked daily and an ever rotating cast of selected animals (like Mr. Bond) are given a day of special treatment, such as hanging out with staff and volunteer members in the front room to greet visitors. 

Community friendly

Zeldes modestly admitted this may not be unique at shelters, but it is a modern technique to include “colony rooms” in which cats socialize. However, the Rohnert Park shelter should not be overlooked as simply modern; it is indeed a unique breed of its own.

“We’re community friendly,” said Zeldes, “(and) I think this community is pretty animal friendly.”

The Rohnert Park Animal Shelter offers a wide range of very friendly community options and opportunities. With proof of residency, the shelter offers to spay or neuter cats for free, a program that, as far as Zeldes knows, is the only shelter with such an opportunity in the area. There is also a program called “Silver Paws,” dedicated to helping low-income senior citizens maintain the health and well being of their pets by helping with the cost of veterinary bills.

The shelter also offers programs for local children, such as school visiting programs and a summer camp. The summer camp offers a day of activities for kids, like crafts, but both programs offer hands-on interaction with animals and animal/pet care education.

That is Zeldes’s specialty. With a background in education, Zeldes is dedicated to teaching the community all about proper pet-care to make your home as pet-friendly and happy as possible. 

Seeing neglect first hand

As an Animal Control officer for Rohnert Park, she witnesses first-hand some of the neglect and cruelty owners can inflict on their pets by simply not being educated or aware. She claims recent concerns involve the heat and owners not considering how it affects their pets and leaving dogs outside or in the back of pick-up trucks.

The shelter strives to make life with a pet as graceful and loving as possible, even before adoption. Before you can adopt, you are put through a thorough interview process to help the shelter find the perfect match. They take time getting to know each and every one of their pets and their needs, so matches with owners are as happy as can be.

Making the world a better place for pets and their owners is too big a task to take on all by herself, no matter how dedicated Zeldes may be. When Zeldes first came to the shelter in 1997, there were only four workers, hardly enough to have the shelter running smoothly. Since becoming supervisor, Zeldes has seen the shelter grow with more staff members and more than 200 volunteers, and they could always use more, said Zeldes.

“What people don’t realize is we’re still working when the shelter is closed,” said Zeldes. 

The Shelter is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, but on those days, volunteers and staff members are still present to make sure the animals get the attention they deserve. The shelter could always use more hands to help maintain animal living quarters, walk dogs and help in the front office. 

Competition from others

Zeldes pointed out that the shelter is, of course, competitive. There are multiple other shelters in Sonoma County and the Rohnert Park Shelter is concerned with making sure local residents adopt from them rather than somewhere else. Zeldes claimed to never be amazed at the amount of kittens the shelter receives, especially now during “kitten season” and trying to find homes for all these animals – kittens, cats, dogs, bunnies and rats included – is a constant concern.

Unfortunately, so is staying functioning and open under the stress of budget cuts. 

Recently, because of city cuts, the shelter has lost some funding and is in need of sponsorship, such as to help maintain their “Pet of the Week” advertisement and to help build publicity for the animals of the shelter.

“You’re really helping the animals who need it,” said Zeldes of shelter life. “In here, these are the animals that don’t have anybody else; they don’t have someone to go home to, yet.”

At home, Zeldes has two dogs, Brandy and Poppy, and three cats. She is also currently fostering a litter of seven kittens and claims she and the shelter are ever busy during this “kitten season.” 

Thanks to the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter, you can adopt a healthy, happy kitten today – or a friendly cat, dog, bunny or even a fat, but cuddly rat named Louie.

To learn about the shelter, volunteer opportunities or inquire about adopting an animal, go to www.rpanimalshelter.org or visit them directly at 301 J. Rogers Lane. 

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