Twisted Oaks Rescue keeps pets, and owners together

Low-cost spay, neuter program reduces animals taken to shelters

By Kylie Cordell For Clay Today
Posted 11/22/22

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – Twisted Oaks Rescue spayed and neutered 15 local pets, as well as fed 350 dogs and cats during its drive-by Pet Food Pantry on Saturday, Nov. 19.

“Part of our mission is …

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Twisted Oaks Rescue keeps pets, and owners together

Low-cost spay, neuter program reduces animals taken to shelters

Posted

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – Twisted Oaks Rescue spayed and neutered 15 local pets, as well as fed 350 dogs and cats during its drive-by Pet Food Pantry on Saturday, Nov. 19.

“Part of our mission is feeding pets in crisis, so people who find themselves in crisis automatically qualify for free pet food,” said founder Jessie Shekels. “We distribute it as it comes available so there is no guarantee on the brand or size of food when we do distributions, but we try to make sure that everyone gets something.”

The rescue opened Loki’s Lunchbox, a Pet Food Pantry, in 2020 as a one-stop shop for many pet needs.

“In the pandemic, I noticed they were doing a lot of ‘people food’ distributions, but not a lot for pets, so I started couponing dog and cat food and giving it away, and it developed until a tremendous need in the community,” Shekels said.

Twisted Oaks Rescue now has a permanent home at 7637 El Dorado Ave. When the Pet Pantry is open for business, cars are usually parked down the street, and up to three hours in advance of opening said.

“We typically feed 150 families a month and the typical family has seven pets, so it’s something like a thousand in some animals that we feed in the lake area per month,” she said.

Although delivering pet food and supplies is a large part of Twisted Oaks’ Mission, Shekels said education has to be the No. 1 goal.

“Spay and neuter are super important to our mission because overpopulation in the home is the number one reason why people show up for food. That’s kind of the caveat to giving food away; you also must provide additional resources, not just food. The food is a great resource, but it is a band-aid for a bigger problem,” she said.

Shekels works with many organizations to provide free spay and neuter resources to the community including Sheltering hands, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of cats through humane care, spay/neuter, adoptions, education and support services, as well as Fix Them All.

“Fix Them All is a 501 (c) organization in Gainesville. It a group of volunteers whose mission is to spay and neuter. They get local vets to join their program to help people get their pets spayed and neutered. That’s the program that we run here, through Fix Them All,” Shekels said.

Typically, surgeries can cost anywhere from $35 to $500. However, Fix Them All offers low-cost spay and neuter cat and dog surgeries for a baseline of $50 a dog and $30 a cat. Surgeries are performed by medically trained veterinarians at the rescue’s mobile site on their property. Thanks to programs like Fix Them All, they can reduce the number of unwanted animals going into shelters. In January 2017, there were more than 300 animals turned over to shelters. In January 2022, there were less than 50.

“You don’t do that unless you have other people and organizations standing behind what you do,” Shekels said. “There are different ways that our services are distributed throughout the county. It’s not just here. And it’s not just us doing this, it’s a lot of places. It’s amazing to see the community come together to tackle this issue.”

Thanks to partnerships, Twisted Oaks can continue to help provide the community with pet services, to “keep pets and their owners together.” Ultimately, that’s what it’s all about, coming together to make sure that pets and their owners stay together.

“People who have resources make better choices, period. It’s not a competition. It’s sharing. Everyone’s sharing,” Shekels said.

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