Placer County, Gold Country Wildlife Rescue recognized for innovative partnership

Published on March 19, 2019

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An innovative partnership between Placer County Animal Services and Gold Country Wildlife Rescue is helping save the lives of more wildlife in Placer than ever before.  

Its success has been honored by the National Association of Counties with a 2018 Achievement Award, formally presented to Gold Country Wildlife Rescue by Placer County District 3 Supervisor Jim Holmes March 12 during the board’s meeting in Auburn. 

Gold Country Wildlife Rescue is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization that rehabilitates and releases injured, orphaned and sick animals in Placer County and across Northern California, free of charge. In 2018, GCWR took in more than 3,000 animals across 185 species (mostly native to the region) and fielded over 12,000 calls from community members in need of wildlife assistance. 

“We are the only second chance for wildlife,” GCWR Board President Sallysue Stein said. “Most of what has happened to them is caused by human impact.” 

Founded in 1991 by Stein, GCWR began as a group of volunteers caring for wildlife in their homes, eventually expanding to a small office space in Loomis before relocating to North Auburn in March 2017. 

Under a lease agreement with Placer County, GCWR moved into the county’s unoccupied former animal shelter at 11251 B Avenue, giving a new life to the facility while increasing the organization's capacity to care for local wildlife.

Placer County Animal Services moved into its new, state-of-the-art 29,500-square-foot Animal Services Center in 2016, increasing the number of domesticated animals in Placer County that are adopted and returned to their owners. In 2018, PCAS had a live-release rate of 92.4 percent for cats and dogs, compared to 77 percent in 2015 - well above the national average.

The decision to rent the former animal shelter to GCWR was mutually beneficial, giving much- needed space to growing GCWR, while saving the county the expense of demolishing or repurposing the old facility. Instead, the former animal shelter is generating income for the county while also supporting the local rescue organization.

“Without this facility we wouldn’t be able to provide intensive care for animals that have been burned or have their head stuck in a jar,” Stein said. “It’s more than you could do in someone’s home.” 

Since the move, GCWR has increased its visibility, taking 50 percent more calls in 2018 than in 2017. The close proximity to the new county Animal Services Center also fosters a deeper collaboration between the two organizations, bridging the gap of animal services the county is able to provide to residents. Placer County Animal Services saved more than 700 hours transporting wild animals to leave in their care in 2018, compared to GCWR’s previous location.

“[GCWR] supplements what we can do for all animals in Placer County,” Placer County Animal Services Manager Katie Ingram said. “We are not the experts that the wildlife rescuers are.”

In 2018, Placer County Animal Services brought in 57 wild animals to GCWR that otherwise would likely have been euthanized, as county facilities are only equipped to handle domesticated species like cats and dogs. 

PCAS and GCWR work together to host open houses, increase community education and awareness and foster conversation to develop new ideas for animal rescue.

“They are more than just a neighbor,” Ingram said. “We realize how lucky we are.”