SDHRS Wins Pepsi $15,000 Grant!

Earlier this summer San Diego HRS entered the contest in a bid to win a grant of $15,000 to build a bunny cottage at the Chula Vista Animal Care Facility in Chula Vista, CA.

Well, your votes paid off because WE WON!!

San Diego HRS received the third highest number of votes and therefore was considered for a grant of $15K. Once the voting completed, Pepsi followed-up with the top contenders to check them out and ensure they were valid organizations with solid programs.  In other words, we had to go through a formal grant request process, including making a budget, a working timeline, and more.

Since that time, we have been working quietly behind-the-scenes to put together a working plan and get all necessary approvals.

Unfortunately, after our project was entered into the contest, Chula Vista Animal Care Facility changed its plans for the rabbit house.  The city came up with a more comprehensive plan for building a  combined cat/rabbit building.  Because our grant request was for a small, self-contained bunny “cottage,” the new plans no longer met the requirements of the contest.  When we won, we discussed the situation with the grant manager and learned that we could not simply give the funds to Chula Vista; they had to be used in the manner requested. San Diego HRS would have to use the funds exactly as stated or lose the grant.

A Partnership in Murrieta

When the plans changed at Chula Vista, we began thinking of how we could implement the same program in another location.

A year ago you’ll remember we began working with the shelter in southwest Riverside county, run by Animal Friends of the Valleys.  We installed a small garden shed for their housing and began an active rabbit adoption program through our satellite group, Lucky Bunny Rabbit Rescue (LBRR).  In the last year the shelter has taken in over 100 rabbits and the little shed and the shelter’s foster homes are overflowing with rabbits.

Animal Friends of the Valleys was moving to a new shelter, with no provisions to provide more space for the bunnies (in fact it may have less space) so we put our heads together to do some brainstorming. We had to find a way to use the grant, and to increase shelter housing for all the rabbits being relinquished or abandoned in the region.

Thanks to her connections in the region, volunteer and blogger Tamara Swanson came up with the thought of asking Tammy Wilson, CEO of the Oak Grove Center in Murrieta, if they might be interested in partnering with us to put a building onsite for housing rabbits, in exchange for SDHRS/LBRR putting together a pet-assisted therapy program with them.   They liked the idea and we began to work together to see if we could make it work.

We are so excited about this partnership.  Our plans include a pet-assisted therapy program, onsite adoption and fundraising events, plus community outreach programs to local Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs.  We also will be partnering with a local organic gardening group to make good use of the rabbits’ litter box waste.  That will go into local organic gardening co-ops (and a garden at Oak Grove), and used in gardening projects at other area schools.

In addition to having the support of Oak Grove Center CEO Tammy Wilson and her staff and board of directors, we’ve received the “go ahead” from Mayor Kelly Bennett, City Manager Rick Dudley, Maryann Edwards, CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southwest County, and of course Willa Bagwell, Executive Director, Animal Friends of the Valleys.

Look how much we will be doing with just $15,000.  Our partnership will be saving bunnies and helping kids!

As this project progresses, we will keep you updated.  Thanks to your support – we are making this happen for the rabbits in southwest Riverside County.

Be a Part of this Program

If you live in southwest Riverside County and are interested in helping with this program, we can use you!  The bunnies at Oak Grove will need caretakers to give them exercise, clean their cages, change their litterbox and provide fresh food, daily.  We’ll also need people who are comfortable working with children, to participate in the rabbit interactions with the center’s kids.

There are a variety of needs, including people to do the chores mentioned above, transporters to take rabbits to vet appointments in north SD County, and even people interested in gardening to help with the Center’s vegetable garden.

To volunteer, please contact Tamara Swanson at tamara@swansonriley.com.

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