Special Feature: Friends Indeed: Friends of PACC

Friends Indeed: Friends of PACC

By Claire Sheridan | Photo Courtesy of Michael Kloth for FOP

Friends of PACC (FOP), or just “the Friends” for those in the know, is an independent nonprofit organization formed to support the operations of the county’s animal shelter, Pima Animal Care Center. Due to county law, PACC is an open-admission animal shelter; this means they cannot turn away any animal. As such, the lifesaving work done at PACC is often complex and many resources are required merely to stay afloat.

Although PACC is a county-funded entity, tax dollars only cover some capital expenses such as the building, procuring some of the necessary veterinary clinic equipment and staff wages. In order to help animals not only survive, but also thrive, greater resources than tax dollars are necessary. This is where the Friends step in to offer a helping hand.

In the fall of 2017, FOP hired its first Executive Director, Jennifer Camano. A Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), Jennifer joined the Friends with over 15 years’ experience in fundraising locally. Having worked for such diverse interests as a charter school, the Children’s Museum, The University of Arizona and the local chapter of the American Red Cross, Jennifer said she was thrilled by the opportunity to bring her expertise to the field of animal welfare. She said, “The causes I’ve gotten behind, I am 100% behind.” Jennifer’s track record of ethical and transparent fundraising leadership makes her an excellent fit for FOP.

FOP was able to create another full-time position, and they recently hired a Development & Marketing Specialist. Described by Jennifer as having “mad marketing skills,” Sara Wolfe Vaughan has an MFA in creative writing and a passion for rescue animals, including personally rescuing some from Dog Patch. She came to the Friends from Literacy Connects where she ran multiple programs. Sara’s experience with animal rescue has given her the background to write about animal issues with great insight, and that will come in handy for her new role.

FOP exists to supplement, rather than supplant the county shelter. The organization was created to take the fundraising element, which is so critical to providing quality care for animals, out of county government. Because FOP is a nonprofit organization, they have greater flexibility in their ability to buy things like medicine and emergency animal care supplies. County rules require that items be procured through specific vendors, usually with a significant lead time for approval and order fulfillment. In normal conditions, the process is not a problem for basic supplies. However, when it comes to situations such as the intake of an orphaned litter of neonatal kittens that require bottle-feeding (something that PACC deals with routinely), that need’s immediacy can be filled by the Friends.

A situation likely familiar for anyone who has dealt with human health insurance companies, the county has a list of veterinary medications that it will provide. When an animal requires a medicine that does not make the county’s list, the Friends can make sure that the animal receives the recommended treatment.

Although FOP maintains a small surgical fund that occasionally supports medical needs of individual animals, the organization’s goal is to help the greatest number of animals. When considering how they can help, the Friends attempt to do the greatest good for the greatest number of animals. This philosophical approach differentiates the Friends from many rescue organizations, such as No Kill Pima County or Pima Paws For Life. Those organizations frequently champion individual animals.

In the rare instance where FOP sponsors an individual animal’s care, the decision is made in collaboration with leadership at PACC. PACC makes a request to FOP regarding individual cases when the need arises. Jennifer said, “It is critical to have a good working relationship between the two directors [of FOP and of PACC]. Kristen [Auerbach, PACC’s Director] and I talk about the needs of the shelter and figuring out the boundaries between PACC and FOP all the time.”

One of FOP’s recent gifts to PACC has made a huge impact; the Friends purchased nylabones for every dog at the shelter at a cost of $2500. These chew toys are helpful for behavior management because the bones keep the dogs engaged, which helps with the boredom of being in a kennel for long days. “They’re washable, reusable, and smell like chicken,” Jennifer said. Well, who wouldn’t want one?!

The Friends have much work ahead of them, and their new leader is eager for the task. Jennifer said, “FOP helps capacity building for PACC…and plans to do more in the future. More is needed to create better outcomes for the pets at PACC.”
FOP’s current campaign is to raise money for a list of housewarming gifts for the animals at PACC. These include behavior evaluation equipment, real-life room furnishings, Kuranda beds and fixed play yard equipment. They plan to raise an additional $40,000 with your help.

To help FOP to throw a housewarming party for the new location of PACC, head over to the Friends of PACC website: www.friendsofpacc.org

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