SUN VALLEY : Fund Shortage May Shut Pet Rescue Group

They are among the most motley groups of orphans left in the aftermath of the Jan. 17 earthquake--and their fate is hanging in the balance.

Dogs, cats, birds, even a rabbit and her young were putting up a healthy ruckus at the Pet Rescue Assn. in Sun Valley Monday as their hostess spoke of a cash shortage and the possibility of going under.

"I hate the idea of us not being able to survive," said Annette Petelle, president of the nonprofit humane organization. "This is Shangri-La compared to the animal shelter."

A steep drop-off in donations has left the association three months behind in mortgage payments, not to mention behind in food and veterinarian bills. The facility's annual budget is about $60,000.

"We'll find a way to keep going," said Petelle, who co-founded the organization 15 years ago.

The facility accepts pets from people who no longer want them and attempts to find them new homes, typically for a fee, or "donation," she said.

But in the wake of the earthquake, people are too preoccupied or short of funds to donate, Petelle said. "And you really can't blame them, either," she added.

Ironically, just when donations are down, referrals are up as more people bring in animals they no longer want. The facility's kennels, which handle about 125 animals, are at full capacity.

"It's absolutely the reverse of what it usually is this time of the year, springtime, when people are thinking of adding a new pet," Petelle said. "Now they're thinking of getting rid of them because their fences are down, their houses are damaged."

Petelle said donations may be sent to 8906 Norris Ave., Sun Valley 91352.

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