Saddlebrooke Pet Rescue Network, the Glue that Binds

Story by Rebecca West,   Photos provided by SBPRN
It can be easy to forget that Pinal County’s 5,000-home SaddleBrooke community is officially part of Tucson’s metropolitan statistical area, but it is. Nestled in the foothills of the beautiful 9,000-foot Santa Catalina-mountain range, it’s a peaceful respite from the hubbub of Tucson’s central corridor, with its incredible vistas and abundant wildlife. Those attributes aren’t the only things that make SaddleBrooke an attractive choice for living. It’s also the atmosphere of a tight-knit community. One that pulls together and cares about all of its residents (even the domesticated four-legged ones) that makes it so appealing.

The glue holding the community’s animal welfare efforts together is the SaddleBrooke Pet Rescue Network (SBPRN), a 501c3 nonprofit that supports shelters and rescues within the area. The goal of the recent designation was to draw on grants, endowments, and large donations to further their mission of the past 10 years. During that time, the group of all volunteers has worked tirelessly for the benefit of pets in SaddleBrooke and throughout Pinal and Pima Counties with remarkable success.

Their backstory begins in 2005 when five SaddleBrooke volunteers met to discuss how they could help with the placement, fostering, and rescue of animals within the community. Those original founders were Leslie Rocco, Shirley Culliney, Jan Pede, Kay Erb, and Deanna Sides. The forward-thinking quintet was responsible for organizing the amazing volunteer group “Wags & Walkers” to socialize and walk the doggos at Pima Animal Care Center (PACC). Additionally, they worked with area rescue groups to help SaddleBrooke residents find adoptable pets and volunteered at microchip fairs and local adoption events. In 2011, they went on to form the SaddleBrooke Pet Rescue Network.

Currently, SBPRN has five board members and approximately 40 volunteers who help with key events during the year. Board members include K. Steele, Chairperson & Events Manager;
Carol Merlini, Director of Finance; Karen Brooks, Director of IT & Communications; Romayne Trudo, Recording Director & Manager, Adoptions & Rehoming; and Diane Korn, Director of Membership & Volunteers.

As in the early days, SBPRN regularly holds crucial events like pet food drives and the monthly “First Friday Dropoff” event, which averages $2,500 worth of donations and fills 6–7 SUVs from five different animal rescues and shelters. They also take part in benefits and charity fundraisers, like the Calle Rose Fashion Show in November, to help finance their endeavors with the rescues they regularly work with. For Pinal and Pima residents, they include familiar names such as Cherished Tails Senior Sanctuary, Cody’s Friends, Lifeline Oro Valley Animal Rescue (LOVAR), Oracle Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation (OARR), Friends of PCACC, and Friends of PACC.

Part of the Network’s focus is on identifying pets with medical needs and seeing that they receive treatment. In fact, that’s where much of their funding goes, to veterinary care and needed equipment. They pick one or two animal rescue groups who have an immediate need to help an animal that requires a significant medical expense. They then donate funds directly to the clinic undertaking the work to be performed. SBPRN tries to pass all funds from membership and donations directly to Tucson area rescue groups and shelters for medical expenses of adoptable pets or medical equipment needed by the shelter via their Payoff Vet Debt campaign benefitting local pet rescues.
Like nearly all animal welfare groups, 2020 was probably one of the most challenging in their history. SBPRN lost the income of all major fundraising efforts, but they were able to maintain and add to their membership, owing to their glowing reputation. There was also an increase in individual donations to partially offset their fundraising losses.

Though figures aren’t available yet for 2021, in 2020, SBPRN assisted 41 pets at a cost of $4,003, with an additional $2,900 sent directly to veterinary clinics to offset medical care expenses. The group also assisted in the placement of more than 20 pets through adoptions or re-homing, and made a $2,000 contribution to buy a dental cleaning machine for Pinal County Animal Care and Control. It’s been SBPRN’s goal to establish strong relationships with Friends of PCACC and several rescue groups that are pulling pets from PCACC. These steps have contributed to SBPRN’s commitment to strengthen the support for their own county, Pinal.

Other good news in 2020 saw the announcement of the startup of their Angel Program in the spring. The program was established to direct donations to special needs situations that required more financial aid than they, as a Network, could individually provide. They always seem to find a way to help.

If you’re curious, volunteering at SBPRN is for SaddleBrooke residents only, except for special volunteer opportunities that may arise, such as a recent newsletter writing position. Due to this, it’s suggested interested persons email them at info@sbpetrescue.com.



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