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New Leash shelter finds new life

Community: No-kill animal rescue opens kennel services to raise money

Posted: September 6, 2010 7:38 p.m.
Updated: September 7, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Beau and Sugar sit in front of a bungalow at the New Leash on Life, a no-kill animal rescue shelter in Placerita Canyon. The nonprofit now offers kennel boarding services in order to remain open and continue rescuing dogs.

The long lasting recession has hurt many local nonprofits as grants diminish and donations dry up. One local organization came very close to closing, before rethinking its business model and allocating a portion the rescue shelter to provide for-profit services.

Charitable organizations have long been dependent on the goodwill of others, and some do not survive the deep cuts this recession has forced on operating budgets.

New Leash on Life, a no-kill animal rescue shelter in Placerita Canyon, rescues dogs slated for euthanasia from the Los Angeles County Animal Shelter. At risk of expiring itself, New Leash on Life opened a boarding facility earlier this year in an innovative move to become partially self-funded.

Bobby Dorafshar, founder and president, said the nonprofit’s board first took the traditional cost-saving steps in December 2008, when the economy was clearly mired in a stubborn recession.

“We cut expenses down to a minimum, reduced paid staff and carried the shelter for a year,” said Dorafshar. “But donations and grant allotments continued to drop to crisis levels last year.”

Shelters are becoming dangerously filled in this economic environment, and Dorafshar fears if more help is not provided to rescue and shelter animals, the recession could wipe out ten years of hard work to pass California Senate Bill 1785, which became effective in 1999.

Prior to passage, shelters had the authority to put an animal down within two hours of receiving the animal, despite the fact that provided insufficient time for many owners to even realize their pet was missing, let alone claim it at a local shelter.

The existing law requires an animal be sheltered for at least five days before being euthanized, and allows for unclaimed animals to be released to a nonprofit rescue or adoption program.

“If people don’t unite during the recession to help our animals, the law could revert back to the days of two-hour holds,” said Dorafshar.

Dorafshar says he has witnessed some families in tears while leaving beloved pets at shelters because they can no longer afford to keep or house them.  These dogs are companions, and family members are very attached — separating from a pet is not easy he said.

The Ranch
Bobby and his wife, Kelly, first launched New Leash on Life at their Tarzana home in 1997. Bobby had been a volunteer for the Department of Animal Regulation since 1994, developing mobile pet adoptions while working on passage of the shelter bill.

His dream to open a no-kill shelter was realized in 2003 when the couple leased 13 acres of land in the SCV and opened the Education Rehabilitation and Adoption (ERA) center, also known as “The Ranch.” 

Capable of housing up to 35 dogs, the facility has open space, a garden, swimming pool and giant climate-controlled bungalows as doghouses. Each bungalow can accommodate up to two or three dogs, and each has its own private play yard.

Staying alive
When the nonprofit’s board met this past December, it recognized the shelter was in danger of closing if the board didn’t re-invent the shelter’s sole purpose.

In a pioneering move, up to half of the space allocated for rescues was made available for kennel boarding services. Boarding dogs for profit allows the shelter to remain open and continue rescuing dogs.

Daily boarding fees at New Leash are competitive in comparison to existing kennels in the SCV. Fees at local facilities range from $35 to $50 per night. To house a dog in a bungalow, the nonprofit charges $30 to $35 per day.

“Vacation boarding areas are not overcrowded, and the dogs are treated to a quality, low-stress environment,” said Dorafshar.

New Leash also boards dogs residents rescue, for a low fee of $25 per day, but who may not be able to take another dog home with them. The service provides a safe environment for the dog until the animal can be adopted.

Asked what New Leash most needs, Dorafshar quickly said money donations and volunteers. Asked if additional assistance from the veterinarian community in caring for and treating the dogs would be helpful, he said more donated or discounted assistance would be unbelievably helpful.

Located at 16742 Placerita Canyon Road, Newhall, the ERA Center can be reached by calling (661) 255-0097.


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