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Whitney’s story & an example of how Manteca could take its animal services to the next level
whitney rascal
Rascal, left, and Whitney are both Dalmatian mix rescue dogs

Whitney and Rascal are in my life — and heart — thanks to dogs’ best friends.

I’ve only met one of those friends. She’s Dana from Save a Spot rescue in rural Turlock.

As for Whitney’s other friends, they are part of rescue groups  that work on the behalf of countless dogs and cats every day.

Dana over the past two decades has helped unite me with a few unique characters.

They taught me how to roll on the grass, jog while trying to keep two happy-go-lucky balls of energy under control, smile when they come running to me, and to laugh whenever their tails go crazy and faces break out in grins whenever I rub their stomachs.

Save for Zebra — a surprise gift from Cynthia that was a follow up to a seemingly  harmless question she asked that I answered about if I could have had a growing up what would it have been — my dogs have all been rescues and all pure bred Dalmatians.

Back 28 years when Zebra was the first dog to adopt me as a friend when I picked him out from the runt of a litter, my encounters with the Manteca Animal Shelter have been exceptional.

The first was the one and only time Zebra played Houdini and got out of the yard.

The shelter staff advised that I count nearby shelters including the one in Ripon.

Within a day, I was reunited with Zebra. The day he went missing he had made it all the way from near Powers Avenue and Yosemite Avenue where we lived at the time in Manteca all the way to the Stanislaus River in Ripon.

Zebra’s great adventure happily ended when someone picked him up and ferried him to the Ripon Animal Shelter.

When Zebra didn’t wake up one day from dreaming about frolicking in the clouds, it was the Manteca Animal Shelter staff that gently took the wrapped bundle from me that had brought me so much joy. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t stop tears from dampening my cheeks.

They were professional and compassionate.

Rascal is my first Dalmatian mix.

Dana made the match based on what little she knew of my personality and a nudge that I might enjoy a mix, finding them to be even more energetic and happy,

She was right.

And when I looked for a playmate for Rascal when Dante passed away, I included another Dalmatian mix in my search.

That is how I came across Whitney and the Stanislaus County Animal Services.

I am not saying anything bad or ill about other animal shelters in the area — Tracy, Manteca, Ripon, Stockton  Delta Humane Society, Pets and Pals. I have been to them looking for dogs and have no qualms with what they do at all.

It’s just that based on the little working knowledge I have of animal shelters compared to groups such as Better World Rescue, it is where the City of Manteca should take a look at for how it is operated and how it is designed.

Yes, the shelter is fairly new at Wetmore Street and Main Street but it is going to be woefully small in a few short years if it already isn’t.

Stanislaus Animal Services Agency provides not just animal services for its namesake county but also partners with Ceres, Patterson, Waterford, and Hughson.

As such the synergy of the collective resource of the involved jurisdictions is able to take things to the next level in one location that they likely could not do separately.

Lathrop does not have an animal shelter. It contracts with Manteca.

Manteca is going to need more space.

And right next to the animal shelter at Main and Wetmore streets  are vacant city-owned parcels in addition to space around the water tower.

It makes no sense for Lathrop to build an animal shelter on its own when it could partner with Manteca and add to the current shelter they use.

Manteca is unique among animal shelters in the area. It is not out of sight and out of mind. It is right on Main Street — Manteca’s major north-south thoroughfare — as well as on the edge of downtown. It is not three miles out-of-town built on sewer treatment plant property or on some other hard-to-access place.

But that is getting ahead of things.

In searching for a playmate for Rascal and to double my fun, I came across Stanislaus Animal Services.

Dalmatian mixes aren’t all that easy to find. And I was looking for another with a pit bull mix and a disposition that fit in with mine.

Everything from the website to services to the adoption process is something Manteca should take a look at.

One thing they can benefit from on a fairly quick basis is their hold harmless agreement.

I was a “volunteer” who Whitney was put in care of for several months before her scheduled spaying procedure which was months’ away.

It listed everything from my being on the hook for any litigation from dog bites to the care of Whitney

I first I was a little perplexed. Normally with a shelter – or a rescue group — you fill out paperwork, pay the fees and the adoption is complete.

And in cases where the dog needs to be spayed or neutered, you agree to have it done if they haven’t done it and get reimbursed for the higher fee you paid up front for a non-fixed animal.

The process Stanislaus had in place did more than to make sure we were a good fit. I had no doubt, though. about that from the first nuzzling in one of the rooms  set aside for you to get to know a prospective friend.

It also lined up the spaying procedure that they had arranged to have done of a  contractually basis on site with veterinarians. As a result, it made sure the adoption process — which requires animals to be fixed — was kept affordable.

That same hold, harmless form allows volunteers to make sure that dogs in the care of the animal services agency are exercised and have interaction with humans enough to prevent them from stressing as much as possible.

Whitney had been in the care of the shelter for almost 30 days when I came across her. She likely would have been turned over to a network of rescue groups in a few days.

Whitney was down in the dumps, so to speak, when we met complete with woeful eyes.

It took just a few steps outside after she officially became my  charge on a temporary basis for her to perk. She officially become part of my life permanently in June when she was fixed.

This is not to say Stanislaus has all the answers for Manteca, but it is a good place to get an idea of what could happen in a matter of months with different procedures and policies as well as what the future could hold in terms of expanding the animal shelter.

As for Whitney, that wasn’t her name at the time. I gave it to her because the second she slid up next to me after getting her in the car, I felt the exhilaration I do every time I summit her namesake peak — Mt. Whitney.


This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at