Every day in Monterey County, there is an animal in need, whether it is abused, neglected, sick or a feral cat who needs to be spayed or neutered. That is where the organization known as Animal Friends Rescue Project (AFRP) steps in.
AFRP began in 1998 with a group of women who wanted to help save animals. One of the women owned a pet store and started fostering. Now, AFRP is the second largest adoption center in Monterey County and a no-kill organization. Employees go into Salinas and South County and work with groups such as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Peace of Mind.
Brian Contreras, the executive director of AFRP, has only been with the organization since February, but found it very easy to acclimate. “The staff has so much patience, understanding, passion and knowledge,” he says.
Over 400 volunteers work tirelessly for AFRP, whether it be in the benefit shop, the adoption center or doing what’s known as TNR, or “trapping and releasing.” These volunteers go into areas including Salinas, South County, Chinatown and Prunedale and trap feral cats to spay and neuter them. “These people are dedicated to reducing the number of feral cats,” Contreras explains.
Recently, AFRP has broken the record on adoptions, Contreras says. People who foster animals waiting to be adopted provide a good temporary home and AFRP takes care of all of the animals’ medical expenses.
Dogs are frequently taken to humane shelters, spayed and neutered and then adopted out. Cats are easier to foster than dogs, according to Contreras. Little dogs escape easily so a potential foster residence has to be checked out to make sure there aren’t any escape routes.
Volunteers also assist with all types of activities such as socializing, where the volunteers come in and play with the animal and take them out of their kennel. They also clean kennels and give fluids.
“Volunteers do anything; they’ll drive for 10 hours to pick the animals up at the adoption center and take them to the clinic. PetCo has a place where our staff can adopt cats and dogs. Events are done almost every weekend. These are the best sales people in the world,” Contreras says.
Unfortunately, the shelter had to move out of its current space due to high rent and into a temporary location while they look for a permanent space. Contreras hopes it will remain in Pacific Grove.
Fundraisers include events like Santa Paws in November at the Del Monte Shopping Center. People come with their pets to get a photo with Santa Claus and the proceeds are donated to AFRP.
Darla Smith, secretary of the AFRP board of directors, is looking forward to chairing the 20th annual Happy Tails Gala in December, held at Quail Lodge.
“We have a really great, energetic auctioneer that will host the evening and get everyone pumped up to bid on our silent and live auction items,” says Smith. “Last year, we had a surprise visit by some of my foster puppies. They were the hit of the evening. The night is intended to be fun and raise a lot of money for the animals.”
AFRP’s adoption center is temporarily located at 160 Fountain Ave. in Pacific Grove, next to the benefit shop. The 20th annual Happy Tails Gala will be held this year on December 2nd at Quail Lodge and Golf Club. For more information on AFRP, go to http://www.animalfriendsrescue.org.