When a mangy white cat wandered out of the oak woodland and into the lap of Lynne Powlesland, the Folsom resident knew immediately that she had made a new friend.
“She took one look at me, and I took one look at her, and she jumped into my lap and started to purr. And I said, ‘I guess I’ve been adopted,’” Powlesland says.
For months Powlesland had been unsuccessful in finding the perfect animal to adopt.
“It was a long search because I had a cat for 17 years that had also been an adoptee,” Powlesland says. “She passed away of old age, and it was about a year later that I started looking for a new pet at several other shelters. I was looking for an older cat or a cat that was especially in need.”
The search continued until she discovered Agee Memorial Wildlife Fund Inc. in El Dorado.
Founded by Cindy and Ed Minghelli in 1999, Agee Memorial is a rescue facility that shelters abused and abandoned cats and dogs. The donation-supported nonprofit provides veterinary care including vaccines, spaying, neutering, microchipping and other medical support.
The Minghelli’s operate their shelter at nearly zero cost. Volunteers assist with practically every need, from answering the phone and keeping the office tidy to fundraising, socializing with the animals and participating in animal adoption days at PetSmart retail locations throughout the region.
In fact, it was on a PetSmart adoption day that Powlesland met an Agee Memorial volunteer, learned of the shelter and came to find Frosty.
“She told me about a cat she thought was unadoptable because the animal was rather unattractive and had some medical issues,” Powlesland recalls. “Then she drove me to Aggie Memorial.”
Since October 1999, Agee Memorial has also been providing no-cost feral and stray animal spaying and neutering throughout El Dorado County. In the program’s first year, nearly 1,000 spay and neuter procedures were performed on feral animals.
The Minghelli’s no-kill facility looks much different than other shelters in the region. Most noticeably, the animals are not tightly confined. Instead, dogs and cats are able to roam large, fenced sanctuaries that offer woodlands, grass, a barn filled with hay bales and kitty condos, and storage sheds converted to “warming huts” with animal beds, scratch posts and litter boxes.
It was in the sanctuary that Powlesland found Frosty, whose four paws were burned and bleeding from abuse. Her teeth were rotten, eyes goopy. Her fluffy coat was thin and matted.
“They gave me a carrying case, some food and all her medicines, and they made me an appointment to have her spayed at a very low cost,” Powlesland says. “She’s filled out, all her medical problems have been cured and she has been a wonderful addition to our home. We’ve never had a moment of trouble with her … its been a wonderful experience for us.”
Kim Sturla’s biggest challenge isn’t caring for thousands of animals at a time. It’s trying to get people to think about a pig’s life in the same way they would think about a dog’s.
Alyssah Schafer was born with a congenital heart defect and has never been able to run or compete in sports. Over time, her friends drifted away, and the girl became depressed. But then she met a mustang named Montana at All About Equine, a horse rescue and rehabilitation organization in El Dorado Hills.