Hometown Heroes: Viva Animal Rescue

Posted at: 07/01/2013 8:15 AM
By: Heather Mills, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The Valencia County Animal Shelter just can't keep up with demand. There's so many dogs coming in, many are being euthanized just because of a lack of space. That's where Viva Animal Rescue steps in.

Ashley Pedroncelli has her hands full. Not only is she fostering a litter of dogs, she works full time and she's the president of Viva Animal Rescue; a non-profit focused on helping shelter dogs in Valencia County.

"We saw that there was a need. They really needed someone to help them," Pedroncelli said.

Here's how it works. Volunteers foster dogs from the Valencia County Animal Shelter in order to save them from being put down.

"I didn't want to see a good dog be put down because it's owner didn't care for 'em," Stephanie Walton said. She's a Viva volunteer.

It's not always just the sheer excess of dogs, sometimes they come to Viva with a history of abuse. "The dogs that have been abused, and the dog fighting cases. All of those are really hard to deal with," Pedroncelli explained.

Cases like Mercy. In December she was found in a Valencia County with gashes and gunshot wounds. Her mouth was wired shut. Mercy is now in a forever home, and it's those happy endings that keep Viva alive.

"See dogs that come out of their shell that we're once terrified of people that didn't want to come to you at all.. watching them be dog again is the biggest reward, I think," Walton added.

Then, those dogs are adopted to permanent homes. Pedroncelli said, "It's sad when they move on, but happy that they're with a family that loves them."

Viva adopted out 80 dogs last year. So far this year, they've adopted out more than 50. "Our goal for Viva when we started was to lower the euthanasia rate at Valencia County, and it has already come down quite a bit."

In fact, last year Valencia County had a 49 percent euthanasia rate. So far this year, it's 35 percent.

"We've managed to do pretty amazing things so far," said Pedroncelli.

And they're not done. Pedroncelli says 50 percent of the animals that come to the Valencia County Shelter are owner surrenders. She says her goal is to help the county implement a spay & neuter program to keep the pet population in check.