By YVETTE C. HAMMETT
A no-kill animal shelter in Ruskin needs help with volunteers and funding.
CARE Animal Shelter, which takes in orphaned animals, those surrendered by their elderly owners and others found in deplorable conditions, immediately needs 15 to 20 volunteers to commit to once-a-week three-hour shifts in the cattery, food preparation, laundry or dog care.
Getting volunteers is not that difficult, CARE board of directors president Penny Smith said. Getting volunteers to commit to weekly shifts is the tough part.
And in summer, with some volunteers up north and others on vacation, the shelter really feels the shortage.
Critter Adoption & Rescue Effort Inc. is housed in a small, old house, and frankly, Smith said, it is bursting at the seams.
Plans for a new facility with an intensive care unit, a surgery arm, several catteries and a larger dog area are in the works, but it will be up to area residents and possibly a few foundation grants to pay for the multimillion-dollar structure and needed equipment.
Proceeds from an upcoming wine fair will also go toward the new shelter.
“We have about 110 volunteers right now, but with three-hour shifts we need a lot of people,” Smith said. “We need three to four people for every shift. We are constantly trying to find new volunteers. And we are not the only organization having that problem right now.
The animals come to the shelter through various avenues, Smith said. “Just overnight we had two dogs and seven puppies dumped outside the shelter. We have people that will pick them up if they are running in the streets.
“Quite often, because we are close to Sun City Center, when older people go into assisted living, they surrender their pets,” she said. “But mostly it is irresponsible pet owners because they won’t spay and neuter, and the population increases and there are not enough homes.”
CARE, 1528 27th St. S.W., keeps the animals until a new home is found. All are spayed or neutered and receive their shots before they go to a new home.
“We rely on the generosity of the community,” Smith said. “Once in a while we are left money in someone’s will.”
Shelter volunteers host several fundraisers during the year, including an annual Ladies Tea and the Tree of Lights fundraiser during the holidays, when people can buy ornaments with their pets’ names on them and hang them on the CARE tree.
In November, CARE will host a Gift and Wine Fair in the Southshore Falls community in Apollo Beach. All the wine is donated, and guests give a $10 donation at the door. Tickets are chosen for random bottles of wine during a “wine pull.” There will be 30 or more vendors selling gift items people can purchase right before the holidays.
“People like it because they can come, and there are door prizes and they can try wines they may never have tried before,” Smith said.
To learn more about CARE, visit careshelter.org. Donations can made through the website for ongoing operations or the new facility.