“It’s my dream to build a facility that lasts generations, has sustainable funding and is tied to an organization that has depth and longevity,” said Stirrat. “It’s doable if we can recruit the right people.”
After moving from Oregon to California, and following a positive experience adopting a golden retriever through NORCAL Golden Retriever Rescue, the Stirrats were eager to get involved in animal rescue volunteer efforts.
“I’ve always loved animals. We’ve always had pets; mostly dogs,” said Stirrat. “There are so many wonderful people doing so many wonderful things, and I wanted to be a part of that. We just caught that bug.”
Five years ago, Stirrat began volunteering at Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) in Walnut Creek. After he and Barbara moved from Martinez to Antioch three years ago, he began scouting volunteer opportunities closer to home. “I came down to the Antioch Animal Shelter around the time they were having big budget difficulties,” he said.
The Stirrats teamed up with other nonprofit East County rescue organizations – Homeless Animals’ Lifeline Organization (HALO), Homeless Animals Response Program (HARP) and Friends of Animal Services – and frequently brainstormed fundraising ideas. They eventually all agreed that creating a no-kill shelter in East Contra Costa County would be their long-term goal. DASH was formed last June to help ease overpopulation at the Antioch shelter.
When he’s not preoccupied with his day job in the financial services industry, Alexander Rodriguez an enthusiastic DASH volunteer. “I think that animal rescue brings up the morale of the community because people feel like they’re able to help out, that they’re doing a good thing.”
Maddie’s Matchmaker Adoptathon kicks off June 9 and 10. According to its website, 65 rescue events will be hosted in 80 locations throughout the Bay Area. Pets will be free to qualified adopters. PetSmart, 5879 Lone Tree Way in Antioch, is one of the many businesses hosting the event. DASH, which holds adoption events at that location every Friday night, will be on site for the Adoptathon.
“Our goal is to adopt out as many animals as possible that particular weekend so we can turn around and save more,” said Stirrat. “In order to do that, we need to recruit more foster homes, even if they can be only temporary fosters to help us ramp up for Maddie’s Matchmaker Adoptathon.”
Currently, DASH has six foster homes and 11 dogs available for adoption.
Maddie’s Fund offers stipends to participating organizations, and all monies earned by DASH via Maddie’s Fund go toward creating an Antioch-based no-kill facility. “I got my feet wet at ARF – it’s such a good model to follow,” said Stirrat. “When we achieve that goal of the adoption center, we want it to be a center that supports the various animal rescue groups in East County.”
The Stirrats envision a facility successful enough to retain an in-house veterinarian and large enough to provide a variety of programs, including outreach services for low-income families and their pets, spay/neuter clinics and day camps for kids. But they can’t do it alone.
“We need more volunteers, including board members,” said Stirrat. “I’m an IT guy for the University of California, San Francisco, not a business manager. I know where my limitations lie. We do need help.”
For more information about Delta Animals Safe Haven, call Rick Stirrat at 925-335-3169 or visit www.deltaanimalssafehaven.org. For more information about Maddie’s Matchmaker Adoptathon, visit www.maddiesadoptathon.org.