Tehama County has over 63,000 residents located in an area of almost 3,000 square miles. Being aware of everything happening in this wonderful county can often be challenging. Therefore, there are many who do not know of a small unassuming treasure and the individuals who make up its lifeblood in their midst.
If ever there was a story of a little place that does big things, a modest cinderblock structure called the Tehama County Animal Care Center is it. This tiny abode and five dedicated staff members manage to house and take care of approximately 100 -140 animals on any given day, every single day throughout the year.
The Center accepts all the neglected, homeless, and abused animals that enter through its doors. Offering a warm place to lay weary heads, a regular meal to fill empty bellies and comforting caresses to battered brows it is a safe haven for so many who have not had one before.
Where might this beacon of hope be? It is located in Red Bluff, situated at the back of the County complex parking lot at 1830 Walnut Street. You would miss it if you were not looking for it. There are no neon signs and it looks like many featureless government buildings. However, the sounds emanating from within immediately seize attention. The woofs and barks are hard to miss. In addition, if paying attention, a glimpse might be seen of a dog romping with either a potential adopter or valued volunteer.
While reflecting on the horror stories read or heard about with regard to many “animal shelters” throughout the U.S., visiting this one becomes the last place most wish to go. However, this Center is worth a stop. It is not the dark dungeon we hear about, nor is it reeking of fear and filth while filled with uncaring staff.
On any typical day, when entering, one immediately notices not only how bright but also how clean the place is. Often a furry face is peeking over the secretary’s gate, a current resident sitting amid toys speckled about. Looking across the lobby, kittens are scampering within their glass enclosure, playing without a care in the world. Walk down the hallway to the kennels and what is flanking the walls are an abundance of pictures of former residents and notes of thanks by their very happy adopters.
A flurry of activity often pervades the building. Pups abandoned are brought by local enforcement and are admitted, county residents arrive to renew pet’s licenses, volunteers gather treats and amble to the next of the many dogs to be exercised, phones are answered as well as the multitude of questions asked and endless cleaning is done in steady rhythm. It is apparent; this is definitely not a place of doom and gloom.
What about the people who come each day to care for these lost souls? Is it all just a job or is it a calling? You be the judge.
Lisa Bramley is usually the first person you meet upon entering. The proud guardian of many of her own animals, her motivation is to help give the homeless that arrive and cannot speak for themselves a strong voice.
Mark Storrey, Manager of the Tehama County Animal Care Center works diligently to ensure the best possible quality of life for all animals that enter. He strives to promote the humane care and well-being of all the animals through adoption, education, and action. His belief that people should have compassion for animals above all else is echoed daily in his deeds.
Michelle Highley, a dedicated animal lover, believes every occupant at the Center should be somebody’s very special pet. When one of her "furry friends" ends up in a loving home she knows they deserve, she takes immense satisfaction about her contribution to their happy outcome.
Trish Strickland, extremely passionate about the animals under her care, wants nothing more than to change the lives of all those that come into the Center for the better. Totally focused on their humane treatment, she believes strongly that she can make a huge difference in their present and future existence.
Wally Ziegler, quiet and unassuming is sometimes not easily noticed by those who come through. However, what you cannot help pay attention to is his unfailing commitment and fondness for the animals in his care. He positively shines in all his interactions with them.
It is time to change perspective. It is time to see your Animal Care Center. It really is time to meet the little place that does big things. In the process, you just might also meet a new best friend.