HomeCommunity NewsPasadena Humane Bonds Fur-ever Families

Pasadena Humane Bonds Fur-ever Families

By Jessica Doherty
Outlook Valley Sun

As La Cañada Flintridge residents, the Heers have played an integral role in the Pasadena Humane shelter over the past few years.
But Pasadena Humane has also played an integral part in their family.
Eric Heer, chair of the Pasadena Humane board of directors, and his wife, Samantha, have adopted loving dogs from the shelter, the first of whom passed away just this April.
“It’s hard to describe the conditional love they give you,” Eric Heer said of their dog. “You’d come home and the dog would come running and greet you … that’s gone and now you feel like you have this void.”
So just a few weeks ago, he and his wife adopted a new furry friend to the family, Brodie. Less than 6 months old, Brody was thought to be a German shepherd mix, but to the family’s surprise, he was genetically tested and he turned out to be a purebred.
Pasadena Humane has provided care and support to animals since its founding in 1903. But throughout its more than 120-year existence, the nonprofit has expanded its services beyond just sheltering domestic animals.
“People are often surprised to hear the ways in which we are so much more than a shelter,” President and CEO Dia Duvernet said. “One of our biggest goals is to help prevent animals from having to come into the shelter … providing support services to pet owners in crisis, public training classes, vaccine clinics and low-cost spay-neuter services.”
The nonprofit’s Sandra J. Goodspeed Wildlife Center takes in a wider — and more exotic — roster of animals for rehabilitation and care. From birds to small mammals, Pasadena Humane rehabilitates and supports orphaned and injured wild animals.
Pasadena Humane also runs a fostering program for young animals. Director of Placement Izzy Nidetz said that many people may be surprised by “the sheer volume of kittens that come into shelters,” especially from April to November.
The Heers have volunteered with Pasadena Humane’s foster program since it began about eight years ago.
Samantha Heer became involved with the organization through the existing bunny enrichment program when her eldest daughter had a pet bunny of her own. When the idea of becoming a foster family for the organization came into conversation, she was excited to give it a try. “What’s cuter than kittens?” she thought at the time.
Since then, Samantha Heer has fostered more than 120 kittens and a handful of bunnies. Out of those pets, the Heer family has only kept one cat — the others have all been successfully adopted into loving families.
“It can sometimes be overwhelming, the idea of taking care of such a small little thing,” Nidetz said. “But we’ll break barriers about fostering … we provide the supplies and support people through that journey [so] it’s not as difficult as it may seem.”
In order to keep the day-to-day logistics of the shelter and all of the associated programs running, Pasadena Humane relies on fundraising events during the year to help garner support. Next up is the annual Wiggle Waggle Walk & Run on April 21 at Brookside Park at the Rose Bowl, with an agility and walk and run course, vendors and a pet costume contest to raise money for the organization. Later in the year, there will be a golf tournament and auction at Oakmont Country Club.
The funds go toward the community of animals — and their corresponding humans — that Pasadena Humane fosters, something Samantha Heer feels goes beyond the function of just a shelter.
“Animals bring so much to your life,” she said. “I think [Pasadena Humane] does so much to connect people and animals together.”
This sentiment is also built into Pasadena Humane’s programming as well: “We provide educational programs for children and teach them about the importance of compassion and care for all living beings,” Duvernet said.
Outside of their formal educational services, Heer’s family learned of the power of a furry friend by adopting their pets through Pasadena Humane.
“Whatever animal you adopt, it’s not a commitment that you make for a month or a year, it’s a commitment you make for the entire life of the animal,” Eric Heer said. “Rather than go to a breeder, if you take the time to walk through a shelter, you’d probably be just as happy, if not happier, finding a dog there.”

La Cañada Flintridge resident Eric Heer far right chair of Pasadena Humane is joined by his wife Samantha Heer Kyle and Caren Colburn Denise Gunter Pasadena Humane President and CEO Dia DuVernet and Mayor Rick Gunter at a gathering for the animal friendly organization Photo by Toni LeBel Outlook Valley Sun

First published in the April 11 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.


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