Brenda Sherwood said it all started when she was five years old. She was with her family when she noticed a 10-week-old kitten with a severe eye injury. She begged her family to help the kitten but they could not take the kitten in.
She kicked and screamed the whole way home and “from that day on, I said to myself ‘when I grow up, I will make a difference,’” said the founder of HOPE Small Animal Rescue.
And she has made a difference ever since by providing homes for hundreds of abandoned animals all in the local community.
Sherwood started up the HOPE Small Animal Rescue in Turlock back in 2000 placing animals in loving homes and helping to encourage owners to spray and neuter their pets.
“I started up the rescue center to help as much as I could, not only in the community, but our local Turlock shelter as well,” she said.
But even before that, Sherwood’s love affair with helping animals started over 30 years ago when she would volunteer to take 50 animals at a time to get them spayed and neutered for local community members.
For five years she took animals up to Auburn to get them sprayed and neutered for those that couldn’t afford to do so, she said. A year after that she drove animals down to Fresno to get them sprayed and neutered.
Not only does she continue to help locals spray and neuter their pets, but she opens up her home as a rescue center until she is able to find a permanent home for abandoned animals.
“I’m a happy person and I am happy to do what I do,” Sherwood said. “It’s a good thing.”
With such an overwhelming amount of animals, there is no room for them here so Sherwood volunteers to drive them up to Oregon to people who are in need of pets from the Turlock Animal Shelter. Last year she drove a car load of 50 animals about three times up to Oregon, and again, three times in 2010.
“We can’t work without our volunteers,” said Officer Glenna Jackson of the Turlock Animal Shelter. “It gives us a sense of comfort. She’s a good representative of us.”
Sherwood dedicates her time to helping the Turlock Animal Shelter and opening her home to abandoned animals from the overflow of animals from the shelter.
Currently she has about 45 cats, 20 dogs, 15 rabbits, chickens, guinea pigs, as well as anything and everything on four legs staying at her four-acre home where all animals are part of the family.
And every morning when she wakes up to feed all the animals, she knows “this is why I was born, I was meant to do this,” she said.
She helps all these animals every day because she loves the joy on people’s faces when she has found the perfect animal for them.
One couple was looking for the perfect animal and Sherwood found them a Yorkie. Soon after placing the small dog with the couple, she received numerous calls from them saying the Yorkie completed their lives.
“And that is why I do it,” Sherwood said.
With dozens of animals staying at the Sherwood residence, she said it may get chaotic at times but this is what she was meant to do. There are times when she struggles for money to spend the $400 a month on food for the animals, but when she struggles, a complete stranger manages to send them extra help unaware of the financial situation. And that is how she knows this is her calling.
“If it makes people happy and brings them joy, it makes me happy,” Sherwood said. “You couldn’t pay me enough to do this because it comes straight from the heart.”
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.