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Miss Winkles Pet Adoption Center in Clovis

Apr 26, 2018 11:00AM ● By Jordan Venema

Homeward Bound

May 2018
By Jordan Venema
Photos courtesy of Miss Winkles

IT'S NOT A USUAL NAME for a pet adoption center, but then Miss Winkles is anything but usual. From its name to its staff and to the center itself, Miss Winkles is shattering stereotypes of the common animal shelter.

Functioning as both a nonprofit and division of the Clovis Police Department, Miss Winkles wasn’t always the pet paradise that it is today, though it continues to function as the other half of the care center that receives stray or abandoned animals picked up by the police department’s Animal Services Division.

“Animals that don’t end up going home and that are adoptable and that aren’t a threat to public safety or other animals – those animals then come to Miss Winkles,” explains Miss Winkles manager Erin Ford-Horio.  

“Before Miss Winkles existed we had our receiving center, and it’s still over behind the skate park, and that operates as intake,” she continues. “But the adoption portion was operated out of a little building that we had kind of inherited from a previous city division. It was just this metal building, and it wasn’t built for animals, but we made it work so that we could try to get animals into homes.”

Aside from not being built specifically for animals, Ford-Horio says a major problem was that people just didn’t know the center existed.

“Animals were taken care of, but marketing it as a destination was just really difficult to do. So the vision for the nonprofit, founded back in 2006, was long term to fundraise and build our own facility for the animals,” she says.

Once they began their fundraising campaign, former CEO and President of Pelco, David McDonald, heard about the adoption center’s need for a new building. His own pet, Miss Winkles, had died only three years earlier “and he wanted a way to memorialize her since her life was cut short,” explains Ford-Horio. “When he got wind that we wanted to build a facility for animals to help enrich our community, he jumped on the idea. That’s where the name came from.” 

Historically, animal shelters may conjure negative words like jail or prison, or perhaps the idea of a place where animals both are punished and never leave. But, says Ford-Horio, “that’s not at all what Miss Winkles reflects. We wanted to build a facility that really takes care of animals and relays a message to people that we are here for them, and we also want our community to be for them.”

So when Miss Winkles opened officially in 2013, its impact on the lives of adoptable animals was immediate. Today, Miss Winkles facilitates nearly 100 adoptions a month, compared to about 25 at the their old center “on a good month,” adds Ford-Horio.

The facility isn’t just a more welcoming space, but also includes 15,500 square feet of outdoor activity space for the animals. According to Ford-Horio, that’s is unique for most shelters. 

“Some facilities try to incorporate dog parks, but our facility and location allowed us to have pretty expansive outdoor space,” she says. “Ultimately, we have three grassed areas that are for play and introduction, where people are introduced to the dog they are interested in adopting.”

Moreover, staff at Miss Winkles makes sure each animal uses that space daily. 

“A lot of high-intake facilities just don’t have the manpower to do that,” says Ford-Horio. “But we have a lot of great volunteers that we rely on, so between the staff and volunteers, we get animals out twice a day.” 

But perhaps the biggest difference between Miss Winkles and other adoption centers is the unlimited housing for animals, both dogs and cats. 

“We don’t have a time limit. They’re here till they get adopted, though we definitely have some long-termers,” Ford-Horio chuckles. “But that’s just on us to make sure we continually work with the animals, learn their quirks and behaviors and figure out the best match for a family and home environment, so we can work on finding that for them.

It may not be typical, and staff at Miss Winkles does everything possible to keep adoption rates high to maintain space for incoming animals, but even when space is limited, “then we turn towards foster homes, and even our own homes,” says Ford-Horio. “Our volunteers and staff are animal lovers right down to their core.” 

Not only is the adoption process fairly straightforward, but Miss Winkles only charges a $25 fee, compared to other centers who charged as much as $250 to adopt. Ford-Horio hopes the nominal fee encourages adopters to use their remaining budget to benefit their new pet.

“If you come in, and say your budget to adopt a dog is 100 bucks, then take that other money that you’ve allocated in your mind and go do something for the animal – a vet visit, buy a kennel or toys,” she suggests. “Invest it in the animal still.”

As for the process, “we show them around the facility and encourage them to meet the animal one on one, and if it’s a good fit for them and the animal, they fill out the application. If they’re still completely in love with the animal, then we process the adoption right there, get a collar and a tag, and send them on their way.” •

Miss Winkles • 85 Temperance Ave., Clovis •

(559) 324-2464 • Hours: Tuesday–Sunday, 10 am–6 pm

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