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Local animal group hopes drivers will support furry friends through the DMV
Kittens like this one at the Turlock Animal Shelter might benefit from the sale of special interest California license plates. - photo by ANDREA GOODWIN / The Journal
Friends for Sophia’s Dog Park, a local off-leash dog park advocacy group, is hoping pet and animal lovers across the state will express their support on their cars.
The group launched their “Be Part of the Solution” project this week to create specialty California license plates that will support animal welfare. Sophia’s Dog Park is taking pre-orders for three different plates, which will support pet welfare, horse and farm animal rescues, and wild animal rescues and sanctuaries.
Marlena Cardinal, founder of Friends for Sophia’s Dog Park, said that the group was looking for creative ways to supplement the state funding given to animal welfare groups. Twenty-one other states offer specialty license plates that fund animal welfare groups, and Cardinal is trying to add California to the list.
The specialty plates would be offered through the California Department of Motor Vehicles to all California residents. The plates would have artwork related to pets, horses, and wild animals. Specialized plates cost more than standard California license plates, and the extra fees go directly to the cause supported by the plates.   
Cardinal said that the state will not manufacture special interest license plates until there is a minimum demand of 5,000 plates. All orders come with two license plates per vehicle, so Friends for Sophia’s Dog Park needs a commitment of 2,500 orders for each type of license plate. The organization is currently taking pre-orders so that they can prove a demand for the animal welfare plates.
Cardinal said that they next step after getting the minimum commitment of 2,500 orders will be taking the cause to the California Department of Food and Agriculture for their support. Cardinal is confident they will support the manufacture of the specialized license plates once there is proof of interest in the plates.
Money from the sale of the Pet Welfare specialty plate would go to organizations that provide low cost dog and cat spaying, neutering, and microchip programs.
Money from the sale of the Horse and Farm animal plates and the Wild Animal plates would go to organizations that provide those animals with temporary and permanent homes.
Friends for Sophia’s Dog Park is still working out a fair way to distribute the funds generated from the sale of the specialized license plates. The money would be kept in a fund by the state, and they would ultimately decide how to distribute it. County, city, and non-profit rescue shelters would have to apply to be eligible to receive funds.
Glena Jackson, animal services supervisor for the Turlock Police Department, said that it is too soon to tell if the funds will be available to the Turlock Animal Shelter. She said that many grants are not available to government agencies, and many more are very hard to obtain.
Many factors determine whether the city-run shelter will be eligible for grant and donation money, and Jackson said that she was not familiar with the specifics of the “Be Part of the Solution” program. She did say, however, that shelters would benefit most from a donation system that makes it easy for small shelters to apply and receive money.
“I hope that this money will be readily available to shelters who want to participate,” Jackson said.
Cardinal would like to see the funds distributed to each county based on the number of plates ordered by that county’s residents.
“It wouldn’t be fair to give money to a county that didn’t participate,” she said.
For more information about Friends for Sophia’s Dog Park and the “Be Part of the Solution” project, visit
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.