When you walk into Priceless Pets in Costa Mesa, you know immediately that this rescue is different. It’s cozy, it’s spotless, and there’s not a cage in sight. The first thing you see is a wall of glass-fronted cat enclosures, where the sleepy occupants curl up on shelves lined with comfy cat beds, occasionally raising their heads to blink at you or stretch and yawn. Litter boxes are clean and water bowls sparkle clear and full. You’ll be greeted by a staff member or volunteer, who will invite you to take a look down the hall where the dogs are housed, also in high-ceilinged, glass-doored enclosures with soft beds, toys and clean bowls full of water.
It’s those little details that tell the story—at Priceless Pets, the staff and volunteers make loving care priority one. You can see it in their faces, in the bond that they clearly have with each dog and cat in their care, and in the meticulously clean and bright space, which they call The Orphanage.
The Orphanage encompasses four adoption sites operated by Priceless Pets—the main center is in Chino Hills, with two additional centers in Costa Mesa and Claremont, as well as Knead Catffeine Cat Café, also in Chino Hills. All four offer a place for some of the most desperate and hopeless abandoned pets to come for healing, rehabilitation, and the chance at a forever home. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit and nokill rescue, Priceless Pets receives almost all its adoptable pets from high-kill, high-access shelters on a case-by-case basis, with some rescued from various other circumstances. This individualized selection process allows the centers to save the lives of pets in the most dire situations and most at risk of being euthanized. Their motto? Saving One By One Until There Are None®.
And it’s one by one that the rescue changes the lives of these dogs and cats. Each pet has its own back story, personality, and needs, and the staff and volunteers are careful to accommodate each one’s unique requirements. Working with local veterinarians, pet behavior specialists, and trainers, the rescue evaluates each pet carefully to determine what specialized care they need before they are eligible for adoption. Manager Hailey Wyngaarden explained that when a dog or cat comes into the shelter, it’s given a thorough medical exam, with vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and any medical issues addressed and treated. “Every animal adopted out will be vaccinated, spayed or neutered, and microchipped, except for puppies or kittens who are too young for the spay/neuter procedure,” Wyngaarden says. “In these cases, the adopting family will go home with a voucher for a free spay/neuter procedure from a partner veterinarian.”
Each location has an adoption manager on staff to carefully screen potential pet owners and match them to pets that are best suited to their lifestyle, knowledge, and circumstances. “We spend time with the person or family and ask a lot of questions to make sure the pet they’re interested in will be a good fit,” Wyngaarden explains. “I find out if they have other pets, how long they’ve been searching, what they’re looking for in a pet, whether they plan to crate train, if they have a dog walker lined up … all important clues that help me ensure that the adoption will be a success.”
If an adoption doesn’t work out, however, Priceless Pets has an open access return policy. “We want our dogs and cats to come back to us if an owner decides they can’t keep them,” Wyngaarden said. Staff at the rescue are committed to the animals they rescue, and they make it a point to see the animals in their care all the way through—behavioral issues included.
If an animal has a persistent behavioral issue, the main center in Chino Hills works with local trainers to correct the behavior and ease the transition into the new home. Dogs with particularly difficult problems may come with a voucher for two weeks of free training to help forge a bond that will offer the best possible chance of a successful, long-term owner-dog relationship.
It all comes down to a belief that all pets are indeed priceless, and each one deserves to be saved. This belief is unmistakable in the love and positive energy of the staff and volunteers at The Orphanages. Every dog is treated with gentle love and care, as if they were personal pets. Although almost all of them are rescued from harrowing and traumatic environments, the pets housed at Priceless Pets come to know patience, love and kindness—many for the first time in their lives.
If you’d like to support Priceless Pets, visit their website at pricelesspetrescue.org. Consider joining the team on June 29th at 8:00 am at TeWinkle Park in Costa Mesa for Pack Walk 2019 (please see ad on page 85), an annual one-mile walk for dogs and their owners. Join in on the friendly donation competition by asking your friends or family for pledges on your behalf to benefit the rescue. After the walk, stick around for a few hours of great food, raffles, contests, vendors, and games for the kids.
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