For nearly 30 years, Pet Friends & Rescue has been adding lovable family members to homes throughout San Benito County.
With the COVID-19 pandemic halting plans for crucial fundraising efforts, however, the organization is facing a potentially perilous financial situation.
“We’ve been really hurting,” said Jack Scutchall, president of the group’s board of directors.
Scutchall underscored how the Pet Friends organization had about $33,000 in the bank in February before the pandemic hit and that those funds are dwindling fast. In the meantime, he said Pet Friends needed to cancel two fundraisers – including the Fur Ball in March – which typically generate about $35,000.
In other words, Pet Friends already operated a tight ship before COVID-19 and doesn’t have necessary cash flow to keep it afloat for much longer. This has already led to temporarily shutting down the spay/neuter clinic, fewer open hours at the organization’s Buena Vista Road location, and fewer adoption opportunities.
Pet Friends has four part-time employees who have been cut back to half time, including one office manager. Those employees are dividing the feeding and grooming duties among them.
“If I close Pet Friends down because we have no money left in the account, Pet Friends will never open again,” Scutchall said. “It’s history.”
That’s a potentially devastating outcome for the pet-friendly community. Pet Friends, a no-kill nonprofit shelter, plays an integral role in preventing cruelty and neglect of abandoned animals locally. The spay-neuter clinic alone has made a significant impact, with nearly 6,600 animals fixed since its inception in 2010.
Scutchall said the closure prospect isn’t just talk.
“And I’m getting close to that point,” he said. “If that really happens, we’re the only really large pet adoption and rescue center and spay/neuter clinic in San Benito County that’s been here over 20-something years.”
Pet Friends has been beneficial to the Hollister Animal Shelter as well, working with the city-run agency to maximize adoptions and prevent euthanizations. Being a government organization, the city shelter has its hands tied in certain areas, while the public animal shelter is not a “no-kill” organization like Pet Friends.
Another big advantage with Pet Friends is this: If someone adopts a dog or cat and it doesn’t work out for whatever reason, the nonprofit takes back the animal. Pet Friends also oversees an educational component, involving Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Eagle Scouts and other youths helping out and learning how to take care of the animals and helping with the grounds.
With the dire financial situation, Pet Friends is going to need help from the community in the form of donations.
The organization did receive a $5,000 private grant through the Community Foundation for San Benito County, but that will only last so long, Scutchall said. It may have to go toward $5,000 or so in drugs for the animals that are going to expire soon if the current situation continues much longer. Scutchall mentioned how Pet Friends applied for a loan through the Payroll Protection Program prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but hasn’t heard back and isn’t hopeful about those prospects.
“It just keeps mounting,” Scutchall said of the financial issues, noting how Pet Friends still has to fund an array of overhead costs.
If residents would like to consider a donation, the following are options to do so:
PetFriends.org: Click on the “Donate” link in the upper right of the homepage.
Mighty Cause: Use this link directing you to Pet Friends’ fundraising page.
By Mail: Send checks to Pet Friends and Rescue, 2975 Buena Vista Road, Hollister, CA 95023
“If Pet Friends & Rescue goes away, it’s a huge loss to San Benito County,” Scutchall said.
Below, watch a prior video interview with Pet Friends President Jack Scutchall in which he describes the organization.