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Lauren McCoy came from Colorado Springs to attend RescueCon and got a kick out of the bunnies. (Photo by Chris Frost)
Thursday, February 28, 2019

By Chris Frost



Oxnard—It was animals gone wild at the Oxnard Performing Arts Center Feb. 23 and 24, as the 2019 RescueCon came off without a hitch and drew a massive crowd of pets and pet lovers all looking to provide forever homes to furry friends.

Attendees got the chance to shop, take part in activities and collect valuable information while others volunteered and contributed to the success at the event.

Anywhere you turned, people could focus in on the pets of their choice.

The Dogs

Kathy Lopez, office assistant 4 with Ventura County Animal Services, came to RescueCon to offer information about licensing, spay and neuter and dogs at the shelter who need a great home.

“We have a whole bunch of stuff to give out, and people want information about our shelter,” she said. “They came to us and asked us to come.”

Lopez has been at the venue for 29 years and loves meeting new people and animals.

“I love getting these animals to a great home,” she said.

Once a month, Ventura County goes to different cities, she said, and does low-cost vaccination clinics and microchipping for $10 each.

“We have cards to tell you where we are going to be at,” she said.

People interested can visit vcas.us.

Tammy Adkins runs the no kill, no excuses animal shelter for the City of Santa Paula and will raise funds to help any animal that comes through their doors.

“We get about 1,100 animals every year just from the City of Santa Paula,” she said.

The group featured three dogs at RescueCon. Adkins thinks experienced dog-handlers at Rescuecon is essential because of so many people attending the convention.

“They are on their way,” she said. “We decided to wait because like people, get tired,” she said.

Adkins said the group is also about education and care.

“We have a low-cost spay and neuter clinic and also a monthly vaccine clinic,” she said. “Next year, we plan to open a low-cost veterinary clinic, and we are excited about the work we do. We are not just a rescue group; we have a contract with the City of Santa Paula.”

After many jobs in the newspaper industry, she felt her life came full circle after getting hired at the rescue.

“When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a veterinarian, but the school didn’t work out for me,” Adkins said. “Now I get to help the animals in what I know how to do.”

The shelter is careful about who they adopt to, as we do a home check for big dogs and small dogs; they fill out an application.

“The important thing to know is if you rent; shelters will want to check references with your landlord,” she said. “That’s the number one reason animals get surrendered to a shelter.”

For more information, visit Santa Paula arc.org.

Elizabeth Schmidtz with Send Chance Cocker Rescue brought Obi, a three-year-old who was surrendered at age seven months.

“He was a backyard breeder dog, and he is my pet now,” she said. “He is my Cocker Ambassador.”

The group had handmade items for sale, and all the money goes to the dogs.

“We have a bunch of medical needs dogs right now, and we are one of the few rescues that offer a lifelong sanctuary program for dogs over 11-years-old,” she said. “They go to a permanent rescue home, and we pay for their foster care for the rest of their life.”

Schmidtz has welcomed 34 dogs into her home over the last two years and finding them homes is the best part.

For more information, visit secondchancecockerrescue.org.

Daniel and Doug Szany adopted Baya who will follow the family pit bull who was put to rest because of medical issues.

“It was a difficult decision for us,” Daniel said.

The Bunnies

Bunny Brigade Co-Lead Volunteer Holly Swanson brought 15 bunnies to the yoga event at the convention, and people can adopt them.

“This will be a fun experience for the bunnies here, and they get to socialize in a mellow and calm environment,” she said. Bunnies can be litterbox trained like a cat, they like attention like a dog, but they like their space too, like a cat.”

Once they get to know and trust you, Swanson said bunnies make great pets.

They are a lot of fun,” she said.

Spaying and neutering a bunny, she said, makes training then easy when it comes to going in a litter box.

“I found my first rabbit about 10 years ago in my apartment complex, and she wasn’t wild and couldn’t be out on her own,” she said.

 The bunnies on-hand at the event are strays and turned in for many reasons.

“We do bunny play-group at the shelter, Ventura County Animal Services in Camarillo, so we know they all interact well with each other.

More bunnies are available at vcas.us.

Lauren McCoy came from Colorado Springs to attend RescueCon, and she works in animal rescue.

“In the beginning, a lot of them were “Chinning” my shoe which is a claiming behavior and creates a territorial thing where they all want to claim,” she said.

Interacting with the bunnies put her in a happy mood.

“It’s fun and joyful,” she said.

Livestock rescue

Shawna Kimball leads “Barnyard Bracelets,” which are handmade designs, and the group rescues livestock, as well as dogs and cats and 100 percent of the proceeds go to rescue animals.

“There is a problem with potbelly pigs being thrown in rescues in Southern California lately,” she said. “We’ve rescued 13 since December,” she said. “They are a good pet, but you have to do your research as far as zoning, and you have to be prepared because they are extremely intelligent and get into everything. They are similar to a three-year-old.”

Kimball loves all animals and resues barnyard animals because she has the room.

“There are a ton of dog rescues, which I do, as well, but there are not livestock homes, and I am blessed that I have the room and ability to rescue livestock animals,” she said.

Everyone who wants to adopt a barnyard animal gets a home check, she said, and get educated about proper fencing, which can be a problem.

Kimball has two goats and 11 pigs at her home, along with four horses, a donkey, five dogs, eight cats, and mice.

Jack Penman likes helping out Barnyard Bracelets

“My pigs are my favorites,” he said. “I play with them, but Louis and Frank are the most fun.”

For more information, visit barnyardbracelets.com.

The Cats

Debbie McKenzie, vice president of Surfcat, wants to make the public aware of beautiful cats available for adoption.

“They are the special needs cats, the senior cats who more often than not, sit in the shelter for a long time,” she said. “We take them in and give them the care and medical attention they need.”

The cats come from the Ventura County Shelter and get fostered out.

Surfcat is a dream that started with Leslie Weiss, who loves cats and she wanted to start an adoption facility.

“At Surfcat, we go “the extra distance’ for what we require (for adoption families) because we take our cats lives seriously,” she said.

Michelle Smith, one of the founding members, was with the group from its inception at IHOP.

“We went for Leslie’s 55th birthday, and we dreamed this whole idea up and forgot to get the senior discount,” she said. “It’s grown to this amazing thing, and we are anxious to move to home finally.”

For more information, visit surfcatcafe.org.