More than just a pound

The Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter.
(Via Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter)

Sarah Goldberg is one of the animal care supervisors at the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter. The shelter takes mistreated, abandoned, strays and lost pets, helps owners find their missing pets, and puts other animals up for adoption.

Editor’s note: Lookout worked with students at Pajaro Valley Unified School District’s Diamond Technology Institute charter high school through the school year. As a demonstration project, supported by Santa Cruz Community Credit Union, Lookout provided the school’s students and teachers complete access to Lookout’s local news and information, which has been used in several classes. This spring, Lookout staffers worked with Diamond Technology juniors, who interviewed Watsonville community members to create their own version of Lookout’s ongoing Unsung Santa Cruz series. Today through Thursday, we feature the students’ contributions. For more information on our expanding student engagement programs, both in high schools and at UC Santa Cruz and Cabrillo College, check out our Student Access page.

Many people believe that an animal shelter is just an animal pound and that it is all bad. The stereotype for animal shelters is always that the animals are not happy and that euthanizing animals is not hard for the people working in animal shelters, but after the interview with Sarah Goldberg, you might think otherwise.

On a recent afternoon, I got the chance to meet with Sarah and learn about the important work she does for the community. She introduced herself and her role: “My name is Sarah Goldberg and I am an animal care supervisor here at the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter.” Sarah has been working at the shelter for 14 years, and her path to get there is quite interesting. She has always been interested in working with animals, even though her interest before working at animal shelters was being a marine biologist.

Since she was young, she was involved in volunteering in animal shelters and hospitals. “When I was younger I wanted to be a marine biologist,” she said. “I did take a class for that but realized it’s not that easy to do.

“I’ve been interested in working with animals my entire life — I started working at a vet hospital when I was 14 and then at multiple vet hospitals … then ended up here.”

I asked Sarah what her favorite part of working in the animal shelter was and she had this to say: “Finding the right spot for the animal, whether I find a rescue organization to take it or another shelter, or just the find the right home.” While Sarah explained this, she had a small smile on her face, which showed how much she cares for animals and finding them a place for them to be happy.

Sarah believes that it is important to educate people in the community about how to care for animals or what to do if they find one: “The community needs all the education they can get on how to care for their animals, what to do if they found an animal.

“Just being here and being able to take in animals that need homes or need help in some way is in part helping the community.”

There are many animals suffering without food, homes and things for their survival, but Sarah and the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter are here to help.

She shared a few stories with me while I was in the interview, and here are some things that stood out and show how dedicated she is to the cause of animal welfare:

“Being there for people who need help — just the other day we took in a dog who had just given birth but they thought a puppy was still stuck in the canal … the dog was suffering, so we were able to help in that situation.”

Another memorable story Sarah discussed was when “a gentlemen came in who was worried about something with his cat’s eye, I was able to quickly take a look at it. ... He knew that if he could take his dog to the vet on Monday it would be OK.”

These are just a few ways Sarah has been helping people in the community who are stressed about their animals being sick.

Even though the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter tries its best to help, there is still a big misunderstanding about animal shelters and how animals are treated at the shelter.

Sarah had this to say about it: “ A lot of people consider the shelter the pound, that we are bad and you know the animals are not happy and stuff, but if they were able to come and then see the care that is taken of all the animals in our facility, would be I think it would be very good for them.”

She welcomes people to come to visit and see for themselves.

“Sometimes those animals are a couple of days or however they are here is the best time they ever had in their life,” she said of how the shelter helps animals in the community.

“ Most people would say having to euthanize animals is the hardest part of the job, and it is a hard part of the job,” Sarah explained. “At the same time, you know not all animals can be saved ... I think taking animals who have had a really hard life … either have major medical issues that nobody took care of or behavior issues that nobody was working with and having to euthanize that, is sad because it’s like they really didn’t have a chance.”

During the interview with her, I learned many things and this was one of them. It is a very heart-wrenching fact to know about the animal shelter.

The last sentence that Sarah said at the end of the interview was emotional to hear. “Even though that is heartwarming in sense, it is also very sad that being in a shelter was the best time they had,” she said. This emphasizes how much Sarah cares for the animals as well as all the volunteers and workers at the shelter — and I want to thank them so much for taking the time to accept this interview and for helping our community.

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