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Pets & Pals: Lathrop’s no-kill animal shelter

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Pets & Pals: Lathrop’s no-kill animal shelter

Shannon Johnson checks on puppies at the no-kill shelter.


POSTED January 21, 2012 2:26 a.m.

LATHROP – There’s something at Pets & Pals in Lathrop that you can’t find in any other place like it.

It’s called Timber. That’s the name of their official greeter.

“He loves to greet people. He’s good at that,” said Shannon Johnson who has worked at this nonprofit animal shelter for five years.

Unlike the regular paid staff at this two-acre facility on North Harlan Road, Timber does not draw any paycheck. What he gets are special treats like toys and regular pampering that includes plenty of play time and having his hair brushed quite often.

An Alaskan malamute which brought to the United States from Korea but was surrendered by its owner to Pets & Pals because it had some “major separation issues,” Timber is not the only thing that separates this decades-long animal shelter from other similar outfits. First and foremost, Pets & Pals is a no-kill shelter. That means, dogs and cats that don’t get adopted are not put to sleep. The shelter becomes their home.

This home provides these four-legged friends with every creature comfort possible. That includes proper nutrition – they never want for food – spacious play areas both outdoors and indoors, toys, medicine and medical attention if and when needed, comfortable sleeping quarters and plush blankets and pillows, even heated floors during cold weather and, for the dogs, a clean swimming pool. There’s also a quarantine room where they place the animals when they get sick. And although the shelter, at any given time, has dozens of cats and dogs – the facility can comfortably accommodate up to 60 pets – there’s no hint of smell anywhere.

“We clean all throughout the day, and we check all the (dog) runs all the time,” explained Johnson, one of about half-dozen employees at the facility located next to the Gordon Trucking facility under construction on the east side of Interstate 5.

All the workers also maintain the entire facility including the gardens. “We do all the weeding and planting,” Johnson added.

All the dogs and cats in the facility are already spayed and neutered. The only thing that will make them even happier is for loving and kind pet lovers to adopt them. As their web site states, “We exist to find loving homes for all our dogs and cats. Pets & Pals is a humane organization and we do not euthanize.”

Quite a fiscal challenge for an organization that relies strictly on private donations. The shelter also derives part of its operation funds from the Gladys Sargent Foundation, named after the founder of Pets & Pals. The foundation was established after Sargent, who served for y ears as president of the board, passed away in 1997. She was succeeded by Sue Molen who remains the director of the facility.

Anyone who would like to consider adopting any of the animals at the shelter may stop by the facility between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. “Older” cats such as Oscar are especially waiting for people to adopt them. The orange tabby cat is just seven months old but is considered old by most people.

“People prefer kittens,” or “teen-ish” cats that are up to three months old, Johnson said. “They don’t take older cats.”

Oscar was abandoned at the shelter along with its “brother and sister,” she explained.

Many of the animals at the shelter, in fact, were abandoned and neglected. A typical example is two-month-old Gandhi. Johnson said the animal was found abandoned in a house. The dog was emaciated with a “severely broken pelvis.” Pets & Pals arranged for it to have surgery and the dog quickly recovered. Now, said Johnson, “he’s a happy, happy dog” who loves to play with Aesha, a three-year-old female Husky mix.

For more information on how to adopt a pet at the shelter, or to donate to the cause, call (209) 982-5073 or send an e-mail to You can also log on to  The shelter is located at 12488 S. Harlan Road between the Lathrop Road,

— Rose Albano Risso

city editor

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