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Programs, Services Focus On Providing For Animals
Escalon Lead Animal Control Officer Crystal Pascale, at left, holds on to Diesel while volunteer Maxwell Mello greets the large Mastiff mix dog and fellow volunteers, in back from left, Trent Berchtold, Americis Smith and Emma Bracco look on. Marg Jackson/The Times

Animals can be a great stress reliever – and many people have gone through with animal adoptions, an outgrowth of the shelter in place and pandemic restrictions that have been ongoing for months.

Locally, there are just a few animals available right now at the Escalon Animal Shelter, and Lead Animal Control Officer Crystal Pascale said they are always looking to place the pets that come to them, helping them find new forever homes.

“Most people are home right now and the animals are loving it,” Pascale said of people having more time to devote to pets, with many still working from home.

The local shelter, at 25100 E. River Road, is currently open by appointment only to see the animals and possibly adopt; the phone number to make an appointment is 209-838-9908.

Pascale recently marked her 10th anniversary of working with the city and said the shelter staff also includes Animal Control Officers Misty Booth, Cherelle Mason and Lakeisha McClain.

“We also have a lot of volunteers here at the shelter, we have bottle baby fosters, special needs fosters and Lynne Olivieri runs our social media and keeps everything up to date.”

A recent Saturday saw a group of four young volunteers cleaning cages, sanitizing the area, spraying down the back pavement area, and more. Pascale said she and a couple other volunteers also were able to plant some grass so the back area now has a green space for the animals to play on as opposed to just dirt.

Volunteers helping out recently were college students Maxwell Mello, a freshman, and sophomore Trent Berchtold, along with EHS junior Americis Smith and senior Emma Bracco.

“The animals are my favorite part,” Smith said, indicating that other tasks are not so high on her to do list, but interacting with the animals definitely is.

All volunteers help out with both the fun and the mundane tasks, so all the work gets done and tasks are spread out.

“I’m a dog person,” added Bracco.                                                                   

Both Mello and Berchtold echoed the sentiments of enjoying working with the animals and they all joined in a spirited game of fetch with Diesel, a recent arrival at the shelter, a large Mastiff mix dog.

Pascale said it’s important for volunteers to work with the animals and get them socialized, so they can more easily transition into a new home environment.

Also at Escalon, there is grant funding available to help with spay and neuter costs for residents that already have pets.

“We do a once a month spay and neuter clinic,” explained Pascale, adding that they would like to see more Escalon residents take advantage of it.

The upcoming September clinic is full but there are openings in October.

Spay/neuter voucher costs through the grant program are $50 for a female dog and $35 for a female cat; $40 for a male dog, $20 for a male cat. The clinic is done on site; the October clinic is set for Oct. 6 and those interested in obtaining the low cost vouchers can contact the shelter.

“They call and make an appointment, come and purchase the voucher,” Pascale said. “We give them the date and time for the clinic; it’s a same day surgery.”

There are 38 animals scheduled for the September clinic.

For the adoptable animals at the shelter, they have to be spayed or neutered before they leave and that is done at the Escalon Small Animal Clinic, through a different program than the voucher one, and a portion of that cost is passed on in the adoption fees.

And though the Escalon shelter has seen a decrease in the number of animals they have available for adoption over the past few months, Pascale said those that are there still need support.

“We are always in need of kitten food, both wet and dry, we can use animal towers, everything from treats to toys, we utilize everything we get, for sure,” she noted. “Our animals love everything they get.”

Those that find stray cats or dogs or trap feral cats are encouraged to call the shelter, as they take all animals found in their jurisdiction.

“It’s the love of the animals, it just keeps me here,” Pascale said of serving at the shelter for more than a decade. “I love giving the animals the best they can have until their future is decided.”

Animal Shelter volunteers Maxwell Mello, left, and Americis Smith show a couple of the cats, Daiquiri and Sasha, currently housed at the shelter; they are always looking for donations of pet food to help feed the animals until they get adopted out. Marg Jackson/The Times