The Newman Police Department and Cause for Paws are working together to place dogs and cats in need of a home. Some Cause for Paws members also help at the animal shelter as volunteers through the police department. Gathered recently at the city’s animal shelter were, from left, Cause for Paws volunteers Sarah Wallace and Therese Goble, animal control officer Jasmine Fragoza and Cause for Paws volunteers David James, Nancy Pimentel, Kelly Selman and Marissa Maldonado. Also active in the Cause for Paws volunteer ranks are Veronica Dougherty, Lana Mays and Karen Topping.

NEWMAN - A partnership between the city of Newman and community group Cause for Paws is continuing to author a success story in caring for sheltered animals and finding new homes for those dogs and cats.

One marker of their success came over the Thanksgiving holiday, when the animal shelter was empty of animals - signifying that any animals in need of a home had been adopted or transferred to a rescue organizaation.

An empty shelter (rare but not common) is particularly welcome at the holidays, said Jasmine Fragoza, a community service officer who handles animal control for the Newman Police Department.

“The holidays are always the roughest (in terms of finding homes for animals),” she explained. “People are busy, and not a lot of people have funds to pay for an adoption, or they are hosting (the holidays) so fostering is more difficult.”

Fragoza and Cause for Paws work side-by-side with the common mission of helping care for animals in the shelter and working to find them homes. That may involve Cause for Paws transporting unclaimed dogs or cats to rescues or helping with local adoption events, as well as direct adoption of animals from the shelter.

Cause for Paws also raises funds to provide additional veterinary care for sheltered animals whose needs exceed the city’s limits.

“We are getting them care above our budget for each animal,” Fragoza told Mattos Newspapers. “They wouldn’t get that care if Cause for Paws was not there to help with the extra costs.”

The reality, Fragoza and Cause for Paws volunteer Terese Goble said, is that any civic shelter will send some animals to be euthanized. Their efforts, Goble said, involve “doing our best to make it as low-kill as possible.”

Those efforts are largely successful, Fragoza told Mattos Newspapers.

The city’s shelter has held close to 200 dogs this year alone, she said. While Fragoza did not have exact numbers for the year, she said that since becoming the city’s animal control officer no more than 12 dogs annually have been put down. Those were typically aggressive or seriously ill, she noted.

She did not have specific numbers on cat populations, but said the shelter handles a larger number of felines than canines. Cats pose their own challenges, she said, because they tend to come into the shelter in groups rather than as individual strays and are more prone to having health issues.

One of Cause for Paws’ projects is developing a network of rescues for both dogs and cats, Goble noted. A Morgan Hill woman, Karen Topping, has been instrumental in coordinating rescue activities, she added.

The ideal scenario, Fragoza said, is for animals to be returned to their owners - but the groups are striving to ensure that dogs and cats are well cared for while in the shelter and that, if need be, new homes can be found.

She estimated that 50-60 percent of dogs and cats brought to the shelter are reunited with their owner.

Micro-chipped pets, Fragoza emphasized, are almost always returned to their owner.

With a micro-chipped animal, Fragoza emphasized, “I can get (the pet) home to you right away. I can find you; you don’t have to find me. If the animal is chipped, we will get it home to you.”

In one significant change for the city’s animal control program, the animal shelter will now house both dogs and cats. Felines were previously housed in a room to the rear of the police station, until a minor fire damaged that room.

Since that time, Goble said, Cause for Paws has focused its efforts on finding rescue organizations and foster homes for cats as needed. Its volunteers have continued to help with dogs at the shelter, and will be helping with cats there as needed by Fragoza.

“Now that the dogs and cats are all in one place it will be easier to coordinate,” Goble said of the volunteer support.

The shelter will offer both a quarantine area for cats and an area to house cats available for adoption,” Fragoza explained. “We had been working with the facilities we had, with rooms that could be used for cats. It will be a huge benefit to have the cats (in the main shelter), because it will all be in the same spot for the volunteers.”

Additional volunteers are needed to help with shelter duties, Goble told Mattos Newspapers.

While any interested community member can be involved in Cause for Paws, shelter workers must go through the process of becoming a police department volunteer. Those interested may contact Fragoza at 862-2902.

Cause for Paws, Fragoza added, has been instrumental in helping care for sheltered animals and working for positive outcomes.

“I could do my job,” she reflected, “but without Cause for Paws a lot of great things for the animals and the shelter would not have happened.”