The sound of paws pouncing on chain link fences and barks greet visitors and volunteers alike at the People Assisting Lodi Shelter. Inside, the phones ring and cats meow as Joseph, a small miniature pincher mix, yips.
In the back, Ellen Gray fills six silver bowls with chow for the smallest dogs as she prepares to clean the pens for the morning. Dogs like Tink, a Jack Russell terrier mix, jump and run excitedly at the sight of her.
"I know, I know. I am happy to see you too," Gray coos to them as she lets the first out of their quarters. They run down the breezeway as Gray removes the bedding, and dishes. She scoops the poop and sanitizes the ground. She talks to the other pups as she placesd down fresh bedding.
Gray, who has been volunteering at the PALS center for four years, repeats the process.
Back inside, Carol Evans enters data into a computer about vaccinations and new animals as she answers phones and tends to the animals at the center. Evans has been a volunteer for three years. She was inspired by her daughter, Kelsey, after she did her senior project on a dog from the shelter.
On this day, Evans helps Michelle Hooper give a vaccine to Jasmine, one of many cats. She then holds the feline as Hooper trims the cat's claws.
Hooper takes photos of the pets and posts them to the PALS Web site browser called Pet Finder. She updates the photos and information on each of the adaptable pets and works on the newsletter put out by the organization.
Nancy Alumbaugh filters in and out on a Tuesday, dropping cats off at the veterinarian's office, returning calls, filling out transfer forms and more. Later in the week she is getting ready for a fundraiser and the Downtown Farmer's Market. PALS is Alumbaugh's passion. She is a founder of the PALS organization as well as the treasurer. She can be found at the center on almost any given day.
The center partners with the Lodi Animal Shelter. Canines and felines are transferred to the adoption center. The goal is to a no-kill nation where all healthy and treatable shelter dogs and cats are guaranteed a loving home.
Last year the combined shelters took in 2,554 animals. Of those, 587 were adopted. One-hundred-forty-four were transferred to other organizations.
For the number of animals in the PALS shelter, an equal amount are placed in foster homes until they can be adopted. PALS still pays for food and vet care.
Fundraisers such as "Look Who's in the Dog House," crab feeds and Doggie Round Up and Barkatecture are done. Donations , PALS membership and volunteering are some of the ways the center continues to operate 365 days a year.
According to Alumbaugh, the biggest cost to run the center currently is the veterinary costs. "They are astounding," she says.
Alumbaugh believes the foreclosure crisis is much to blame. Many animals are found malnourished, and left behind with many ailments.
Despite the challenges, the people of PALS continue to clean, feed and care for the animals of Lodi, hoping for the best home, the best future.
For more information about PALS and ways to help, visit www.palslodi.org or call 209-224-0354.