By Sea Shelton, Senior Management Analyst, Dana Point Administrative Services
Dana Point Volunteers of the Month for December, Paula and Bob Becker, moved to Dana Point in 1992. Prior to relocating here, they had family pets but were never really involved in animal rescue volunteer efforts.
In 1993 Paula became aware of the feral cat issue in the community and joined a group of other community members in feeding and caring for the cats. Through her efforts she met a feral cat she named Saddles who eventually became part of the Becker family. Paula credits Saddles for changing their lives and making both her and Bob even more committed to addressing the feral cat problem. She and Bob began taking in the cats to socialize them with the hopes that they would become adoptable pets.
It was when their beloved Saddles went missing that the Beckers first learned about the Animal Rescue Foundation of Dana Point, or ARF. In response to an ad they placed in the Pennysaver, a representative from ARF contacted them to offer assistance and tips on finding Saddles. After being gone for three weeks, Saddles was found and back at home. Paula and Bob were so impressed with ARF that Bob began volunteering at the Wag-a-Thon. He and Paula also began helping out at adoption events at Petsmart for the organization.
In 2005, ARF merged with the Friends of San Clemente Animals to form the Pet Project Foundation. Since then, PPF and the San Clemente-Dana Point Animal Shelter have been united in a unique partnership to provide pro-humane care to the lost and abandoned animals.
Both Paula and Bob have been active members of PPF and have spent countless hours volunteering at the shelter. Bob has been a dog walker there for 16 years, is a past board member of both the ARF and PPF boards, has served as auctioneer at several fundraisers and on occasion has played Santa during various holiday fundraisers. Paula has worked with cats at the shelter for seven years, has been a past PPF board member, and chaired and co-chaired the Wag-a-Thon. Paula has started the shy cat committee at the shelter to work specifically with shy cats to help socialize and make them more adoptable.
Paula’s concern for feral cats in the community hasn’t wavered. She started the Trap-Neuter-Return program, or TNR, to help address areas where the population of feral cats is most prominent. If a feral cat is taken in and efforts to socialize the cat are unsuccessful, the cat is spayed or neutered and then returned to where it was found. Thanks to Paula’s efforts and the TNR Program, a humane solution has been found to address the feral cat population in the community.
One of Paula’s most important roles with PPF was serving as chair of the Cat Care Improvement Project at the shelter. Paula, along with her fellow committee members, worked tirelessly to make the recent cat room expansion project possible. The Lori Hoenow Cat Adoption Center had its grand opening in April 2012.
The city of Dana Point would like to thank Paula and Bob Becker for their dedicated service to the community and congratulate them on being selected as the Volunteers of the Month for December 2012.