SANDRA ACKERMAN, Capistrano Beach
First, I would like to thank the Dana Point Times for the lovely article about Mike Darnold in the Sept. 29-Oct. 5 edition. I know Mike from a very different time. In 1983, Ron Coleman, the fire chief at the time, some city leaders and veterinarians were tired of the lack of service provided by O.C. Animal Services. Ron, convinced that San Clemente could do a better job caring for its animals, discontinued the contract with Orange County and opened up shop here. The savings from that canceled contract went toward one animal control officer, one truck, insurance and utilities for the shack we started in. There were about 50 volunteers, all very willing to roll up their sleeves and do what it took to care for lost or homeless animals.
It didn’t take long for us to realize that if we didn’t raise some money all of our good work and intentions were for naught. That’s where Mike Darnold came in. At the time, Mike had a pottery shop in San Juan and we talked every time I went in there. I told him what we were up against and he offered to give me things from his inventory to start fundraising with. That was just the beginning of the many times he donated to us, and his generosity allowed me to realize that people really did care about homeless animals. It was rough in the beginning, but here we are 34 years later, having found countless animals homes forever through what is now a very well run San Clemente/ Dana Point Animal Shelter. I have many people to thank on this long and lovely journey. I thank Mike for giving us a much needed boost. I thank the city leaders for their confidence in the volunteers. A huge thank you goes out to the Pet Project Foundation, the volunteer group that works day-in and day-out raising funds for these animals. A big thanks to the staff that runs the shelter better than it’s ever been run and to our Animal Control Officers who are out on the front lines trying to keep people and animals safe. It takes a village, indeed.