Valley Life » FYDO growing bigger with every bark

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Photo by Ashley Loza
FYDO Board Member Juls McGhee poses with one of FYDO's recent pug rescues, Agnes Moorehead.
Many residents of the Kern River Valley are familiar with FYDO, the 'Fix Your Dog Organization' that helps rescue and spay and neuter dogs throughout the community. What they might not know is that FYDO is making big plans to grow by leaps and bounds this year, and they are well on their way to success.

FYDO founders Kate MacDonald and Wendy Geis, both avid animal lovers, began working together in 2013 when MacDonald first began rescuing dogs with a project she called Terrier Town. Together, they expanded their operations in July of 2015 when they were granted financial sponsorship by Kern River Valley Revitalization (KRVR).

While MacDonald says that KRVR has been an excellent sponsor, it's time for FYDO to obtain its own 501(c)3 status. This will allow the organization to achieve financial independence and take its own donations more efficiently.

They're also aiming to create monthly reports for the number of dogs they help and write a comprehensive mission statement that will help them with their non-profit status and grant writing.

MacDonald says that their goal is to have this process completed by the end of the year.

FYDO has recently built its own board of directors to address all facets of its plans for growth, and all of the board members come with experience in rescuing and fostering animals. MacDonald and Geis have built a network of animal lovers over the years that were eager to help expand the organization; MacDonald often refers to them as the 'puppy posse.'

They've been highly successful at fundraising so far. Last year, MacDonald and friend Dave Redman won the Whiskey Flat mayor race with $6,800 raised. They also ran away with quite a few donations from the Sirretta Street Yard Sale and were recently presented with a $1,500 check from Wonderful Giving.

To MacDonald's delight, Wonderful Giving followed up with another $500 check just last week.

Currently, FYDO's main focuses involve rescuing local at-risk dogs and helping spay and neuter the canine population in the valley.

As the name implies, they are passionate about assisting residents with getting their dogs spayed and neutered to avoid any unwanted litters that may need future homing. Working with the county vouchers that allow $20 spays and neuters, they round up residents' pups and transport them to Bakersfield, where vets accept the vouchers.

This has made a huge difference for many local residents. The valley's vets do not accept county vouchers, and spaying/neutering can be very expensive. And to travel to Bakersfield is out of the question for many people who lack transport. Additionally, a dog that has not been 'fixed' costs significantly more to purchase a license for, and that license must be renewed every year.

It creates a very complicated situation for people who are not prepared, especially if they took on a pet from a deceased family member or friend, for example, and are unaware of the expenses.

Rescues, however, are also a major part of what FYDO does.

Just last week, they rescued six dogs from being evicted into the heat.

Geis received a call from an ex-coworker who had allowed someone to stay on their property temporarily. She said she wasn't sure of all the details, but some rental disagreement had led to an eviction, and that included the dogs.

The dogs in question were three pugs and three pit bulls. It was during the recent heat wave that resulted in temperatures upwards of 105 degrees, and Geis knew that the heat-sensitive pugs in particular would never be able to withstand the weather.

In addition, both Geis and MacDonald were concerned that the purebred animals would end up in unstable homes.

In a situation where purebred animals are being given away for free, people will often snap them up without much thought about the actual work and expense that goes into caring for them.

So Geis contacted Juls McGhee, an active member of the 'puppy posse' and FYDO board, who happened to live nearby. McGhee was able to rush out to the property to collect all the pups and work with rescue partners to get them to safety.

The pit bulls, Baby Girl, Caramel and Taker (named for his habit of hiding things as a puppy) went to Nancy Cathey at Cathey's K-9 Rescue in Lake Isabella.

Two of the pugs, a father and son pair named Yogi and Booboo, went to Shelter Hope in Santa Clarita. The third stayed with McGhee, who named her Agnes Moorehead after the actress who played Samantha's mother on Bewitched.

While FYDO members are not always immune to their own rescues, they are always in need of additional fosters and transport volunteers.

They say that they are often told that people don't believe they are capable of fostering because they would want to keep every pup they take in. But FYDO members are adamant that watching the dogs turn from sad, scared rescues to confident family members ready for their forever home is incredibly rewarding.

"You see them do all this stuff, and then they go to a great home, and it's a really great experience," says FYDO Board Member Rachael Miller.

FYDO currently does not have an adoption department, although they are open to expanding their operations in the future. Right now, they work through other organizations that they have partnered with to find homes for the dogs they rescue.

MacDonald says that sometimes the most immediate priority is to get them out of a bad situation. After that, they can decide how to best rehome the animals.

They try to keep their efforts local, but they are grateful to have the help of many rescues outside of the valley.
"One of the things we've been really successful at is our network," says MacDonald.

FYDO is currently planning to be at this summer's River Rhythms in Kernville taking donations and giving away treats. They're also in the planning phase for an online store where they can roll out FYDO merchandise.

With big plans ahead, MacDonald is confident that FYDO is right on track.

"Our goal is to make our little valley no-kill," she says.

If you are interested in making donations or volunteering with FYDO, they can be reached via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FYDOfixyourdogorg/ or by email at fixyourdogplease@gmail.com.
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