Episode 96 – Melanie Scherer

Melanie Scherer and the SNIP program have been able to help over 10,000 dogs in just 3 years! She’s extremely excited about what the future holds and hopes to continue the expansion of Snipbus, helping not only the animals but the people in the communities as well! The ultimate goal is to provide mobile, low-cost spay and neuter to stop the suffering and death of perfectly healthy, unwanted animals in our overflowing shelters due to overpopulation.

Welcome to the professionals in animal rescue podcast where our goal is to introduce you to amazing people helping animals and share how you can get involved with animal rescue.  This podcast is proudly sponsored by Doobert.com. Doobert is a free website designed to connect volunteers with rescues and shelters, and the only site that automates rescue relay transport.  Now, on with our show! Melanie sure is a dynamic business professional with a passion for helping animals. She’s the proud mom of four for babies and has a passion for fundraising and mentoring female entrepreneurs. Senate Bubble is a low cost span neuter program throughout California in the Coachella Valley Central Valley in Central Coast. Melanie’s life mission is to make a difference for these rescue animals and helped fund as many span neuter programs as possible. To date, they fixed over 10,000 animals. Hey, Melanie, Thanks for coming on today. Oh, my gosh. Thanks so much for having me. We’re really excited to have you so get you get to tell us a little bit about you and kind of how you got into all of this. It started about 14 years ago. I was invited. Teo, a ladies luncheon that was in the raising money for a local rescue here in the Coachella Valley. And I attended the event. It really had been very successful for the woman who had put it on. And I just walked over to her and and said, Kind of just unknowingly, really, and just said, Hey, kind of like what you’re doing here. I just quit my job and just been traveling a lot. And if you ever need help because my degrees and marketing and my hope, backgrounds and sales, I said, Give me a call. I’d love to help you next year. 14 years later, I’ve raised hundreds of thousands of dollars now and go tell a Valley that ladies luncheon, actually, 12 years later has gone from 50 people to 250 ladies that attended all around ladies from all around the Coachella Valley. That’s amazing. Yes, and wi res anywhere between 75,000 and 90 plus 1000 every time at it. But but the big change that that really made and began the solution with regards to the animal overpopulation problem for me was when I was watching a new show about five years ago, and I looked at my husband and I said, What is that? Turn that up and feeling somewhat frustrated with rescue at the time because I just felt like that’s it was just a constant bleed. Okay, we raised all this money, but how are we getting to the solution? You know, I mean, I go in and out of our shelters and more dogs and more cats every year, every season, every month and just sitting there frustrated. So getting back Teo, the TV program there was a woman who was down here in Coachella Valley, and she started with a $25 spay or neuter program. She had 40 slots and approximately 500 people showed up with their pets that day. And it’s truly my ah ha moment. I still tell it like it was yesterday when people ask me, and this was on the news program that you’re watching. That’s right. It was a local news channel that had put it on. They were out there showing what this woman was doing, and I looked right at my husband, and I said, that is exactly what we should be focused on right there and moving forward from that to Teo. Two years later, after that conversation, I bought my very first spayed and neutered bus snip. Okay, and now it will be three years. Three buses later. Once June 2016 we have spanned neutered over 10,000 animals in three years at $25. That’s that is incredible. And just such a short time in such a short time very aggressively. I haven’t amazing medical team down here called Animal Action League, that I was actually supporting them at the time in brick and mortar type situations. So they just walked right onto my bus and they were thrilled and no one’s no one’s better. And now I have what I shouldn’t say, that they’re amazing. But my Northern California team is equally as is wonderful is they are. So I’m very blessed. Yes, I want to understand this. So 14 years ago you’re at a luncheon and you you end up wanting to help more with fundraising, right? And then that it was just five years ago, your watching TV and all of a sudden you see this, this program, this this local news, talking about they can’t meet the demand for low cost, a neuter and then that just becomes your passion. Yeah, it’s really interesting because I remember, like I said, and I’m sure this individual who started this program probably was feeling the same way. You know, we keep walking into our shelters now, speaking specifically for Coachella Valley at the time, I mean, we were inundated, inundated with animals. The animal overpopulation problem here was so daunting. It was horrible. I mean, even the rescue that I financially was supporting. I mean, she would look at me on days and just go, Oh, God, I’m like, When does this stop like this is just out of control? And that’s what I say to people still to this day, rescue them to who? Keep flying them where, how building more cages to what make us still better? Because they’re sitting in a cage for 10 years the rest of their life for a dog run. You know, we have to understand. The time is now. We are civilized society. We have to stop killing innocent animals because we have too many. It’s not okay, it’s I say it all the time. When did we become comfortable with this, we have to stop looking away and saying that isn’t that sad? It’s like, Yeah, it’s sad and it needs to stop. It needs to stop. Yeah, And you were the one that said I’m going to do something about it. So So you are watching this programme and you’ve got this idea. I mean, this can’t be an easy thing to just start, right? I mean, to build out of Spain, neuter bus and then figure out where to go and hiring the people. I mean, walk us through how you accomplished all that, you know? I’ll tell you, a couple of people have said to me, You know, I’d really like to do these, but we’re just force. People have tried and they’ve said We’re just not successful at it. I don’t even point fingers at people who can’t do it because I’ve experienced it. It’s really tough. They’re tough. The commitment is it’s daunting. Sometimes, I mean, my phone rings off the hook, especially, you know, when we do one post of where we’re going to be located. We received hundreds of e mails all at once. There’s times where we go into new locations. You know, we don’t know what we’re going to be expecting, where we’re going to plug in. You know what? The buildings that you let me work. We just Sometimes it’s kind of like venturing into the unknown when we’re going, because obviously you know what? We have mobile units. So there’s a lot of moving components that are unexpected things that happens at times. It’s not a controlled environment wherever you go thie. Other thing is, they’re very, very, very fast pace. So if you’re you know, I don’t just have a regular medical team or a general practitioner team, I have a high volume spay and neuter team, which is an entirely different needle in a haystack. You know, they’re not easy to find, and they’re not easy to put together. Ah, but But we’ve got it down to a science and the results. I mean, you just can’t argue with numbers are one shelter here in Coachella Valley because we have been so aggressive with low cost van neuter just on snip alone the last three years. Our numbers are dropping significantly every month, every day, every year in our shelter, and they will continue to do so because we are offering low cost mobile, spay and neuter services all around Coachella Valley and especially in areas that need it the most. Yeah. Now I’m curious. How did you start choosing the areas and where did you want to begin? I mean, that must have been kind of intimidating. Like when the problem is that big, where do you start? How do you going to a community that you’re not necessarily a part of and say Listen, we’re here to help, Cap. That’s a great question. I’ve learned through time and and, you know, tripping and falling is sure picking myself back up. We think the most amazing part about snip is truly community, from our volunteers in every city and in every town, to those who are running the local shelters on DH, those who actually live in those cities and towns that give us direction on. This is where you should focus. A lot of people private message me. They also email me or call me on my cell. I make myself very accessible. I’m part of the community when we’re there. I love to be with my buses and my team I just stand back and I watched so many who hug her, who embraced this program fully and are so grateful for the low cost bay and neuter service. So we really take direction from the local communities. They tell us, and I always network with a lot of local rescues, a swell. Many of them know where to go and what to dio. We also always offer everything in Spanish and English, especially where it’s applicable. So if someone says, Hey, listen, we’re out here in I’ll just use this as an example Mecca I had a 16 year old girl called me on the phone last year and she said, Melanie, thank you so much for bringing out these flyers in Spanish and I said, Great, we’re so happy to help your area, She said, May I make a suggestion? And I said, Please, d’oh! She said, A majority of people out here can’t read or write, and I would love it if you could get a hold of the Spanish radio station, because that’s how many of us get our news out here. And she does. I guarantee your numbers will jump up even more of people understanding where you are and what you’re doing. I mean, just that story alone, you know, that made a huge difference in that little tiny farm town, even though we were still getting, you know, 20 to 25 still trickling in every day when we were there or once a month. Now our numbers are out there between 30 and 36 animals every time we’re there because we work with the local Spanish radio station. Who authors that service for us to make those announcements when we’re going to be there? Yeah, that’s what I think is really great about what you’re doing. I really respect that. You are making it a community based approach. You’re not saying we know this better than you. You’re saying help us understand where we should focus, reference calamine. And you know what I get? I get taught every day something new by someone. I mean, from a volunteer to someone who’s organizing. I mean, I learned I just I love learning from others because many people are who come to our who volunteer. They’re retired CPAs. They’re retired schoolteachers. They’re retired attorneys, doctors. They’re just giving their time because they love their animals, and they they know this is the solution. So their background bring so much to our little low cost mobile spay and neuter service. And I love learning every day. It’s humbling. It’s It’s such a grass roots project. You know, there’s there’s no bureaucracy on ly transparent Say was snapped. And I think that’s just the the truth. Big large statement about thes vehicles and these medical teams. No, and I think that’s great. It’s very focused. Like you said, you’ve got a very highly trained team because, you know, most people don’t realize that doing high volume spay and neuter is a different skill. It takes a different kind of person, takes a different kind of process that it just it’s not your, you know, normal veterinarian. That’s doing these things. That’s right. That’s correct. And actually the surgery. I mean, it’s this wonderful, low cost spay and neuter program. But in addition, my vets are so incredibly trained at this that are incisions are so small and so tiny typically in many of the pets. So the recovery time is so much faster for these animals, especially the females. You know, they’re not, they’re not open so widely or so you know the incision isn’t as long or is big, because this is what we specialize in all day long. I’m curious how Maney So when you go into an area, I mean, how many appointments do you take? I mean, how does that process work? Typically, we take between, you know, depends on the size of the animal and how many females females take longer than males. And you know other complications that may arise during surgery. Or, you know, something that’s unexpected. But typically it’s between 26 32. Maybe sometimes pardon me 38 animals when we do feral cat clinics. It’s approximately 26 32 38 45 to 50 feral cats each time, so you can go even faster with the Pharaoh. Kath. Yeah, cats are a lot easier and faster. Then I was going to ask if if you did that, if you supported any TNR groups and I would say it sounds like that you do absolutely, and anyone can hire snap anyone. It doesn’t matter if you want it for your neighborhood, and you know where we can park and help us get organized, and it’s what our clinics another 3000. And that’s what it does. It does typically between, like I said, 26 to 32 35 animals each time. Sure. Okay. Now, over three years and 10,000 is just an amazing numbers. I mean, have you had to drive now further and further, to get to other communities to be able to actually find the need? No. Okay, that needs everywhere. And it’s ongoing. I mean, you know, it’s never it doesn’t stop. Everyone needs their animals fixed. Um and, uh and I ought to also do wanna mention we provide microchips for $15 in Rabies for 10 s o were were always truly in the community to help the pet. That’s our main interest. And, you know, we try to find hubs. I can’t have my team driving to every single little look and cranny everywhere because, you know, they have lights too, and they need to get home to their families at a decent hour. So sometimes if we go too far away from a hub, it gets my team home too late at night. And I just don’t like that because then they’re out early in the morning again and I certainly don’t want to burn them out. If I burn them out, then I have just a bust and no team, Right? Andi, keep saying a bus. I should say it’s a medical. It’s, you know, the medical unit with no team. Um, but yeah, we try to find hubs and and that again we network with communities on the communities that that need it most and then go from there and then we do a lot of social media. We do a lot of boosting in those areas. I have a lot of wonderful Spanish speaking volunteers who you know, we will create the flyer for them, and then they’ll go make copies and they’ll go to Spanish masses on Saturdays and Sundays. That’s been really effective to build trust and many of these communities so that they, you know, I don’t think it were taking their patter going to harm their pet. So we just have We just have a lot of great little ideas and programs that have been really, really effective. Well, this natural pet food is for pets and their parents, who believe, as we do, that good nutrition and healthy food are the building blocks of a long, happy life created by nutritionist veterinarians and animal lovers. Wellness recipes provided an ideal balance of nature’s finest ingredients. I won this. Recipes include lean meats, whole grains and fruits and veggies with no wheat, corn or soy, and no edit artificial flavors, colors or preservatives from head to tail. Wellness is nutrition with a purpose. You can learn more at wellness pet food dot com and follow them on Facebook and Instagram at At Wellness. Pet Food. Yeah, what are some of the messages that have proven to be the most effective? Because I know I’ve often heard from groups that do low cost spay and neuter. It’s about getting the messaging right, right? Why is it important for people to do this? You know, being respectful in the messaging and not, you know, condemning or criticizing them because they haven’t done it. What have you guys found to be the most effective way to approach that? That’s a great question. So one of things that we dio on our social media pieces is that we do well in between. When we’re not posting, you know, our appointments or war work. You know, where we’re going to be. The next day we try Tio put in post that educate the public on you know. Why is it important to neuter your dog? Your mail? Well, Did you know a male khun smell females up to heat up to five miles away? So they did to get out. They get hit by cars. They’re aggressive. They get into dogfights, etcetera, etcetera. We do a lot of that, you know? Did you know why it’s so important to you? You know, spay your female even if you’re not going to have puppies with her, which we don’t want them to have more puppies. We don’t need more puppies, but so it’s a lot of medical knowledge that we try to teach people and a lot of people, believe it or not, will call and say, you know, I saw your post on pie a metre from, you know, for females or, you know, gosh, that explains why my male keeps getting out. He’s driving us crazy. Ah, so it’s It’s been very effective for snip, and we never judge people. We always compliment until people really proud of you for being a responsible pet owner because we do say all the time, we have too many and we have to be spay and neutering our pets. Yeah. No, that’s it’s a really good point. I mean, I know I focused a lot and the transports, based on one of the things were pretty clear. To tell people is you can’t transport your way out of the problem. The transport can help lower some of the pressure points, right? Make it. You know, an effective transfer program is not a bad thing, But we still need to get back to the root cause of this, which is, you know, spay and neuter your pets. I mean, I always tell people unlike you, remember Bob Barker for how many decades, right? Always remember spay neuter your pets at the end of the price is right. And today, in 2019 that’s still the biggest problem. We have this contributing to the overpopulation of animals. That’s right. And I grew up without too. I remember Bob Barker always thinking that. But I say this right back to everyone all of the time. Now, spay and neuter your pets. What does that mean to you if you’re a single mom with three children, and it’s going to cost you 3 2 to $800 per pet to get them fixed. What does that mean to you? If you’re a veteran on, you know, limited funds? What does that mean? You know, I could go on and on and on. A lot of people want to spay and neuter their pets, but they can’t afford to 5 to 6 to $800 spay or neuter fee. They just can’t and or it’s not a priority. And I hear that all the time. You know? I mean, people are like, Oh, my God, thank you so much for this. We’ve been wanting to get this done for so long and, you know, something comes up, we’ve got, you know, another extra bill to pay on a car. My kids need shoes and et cetera, et cetera. So we just you know, I just tell people all the time and you going back to something that you just said earlier about flying them in transporting. I was just on Atwater last week where we did a two day spay and neuter program, and then the day before that we were in Modesto. The’s are brand new locations in the Central Valley. They flew out over 5700 animals last year. In Were, said Atwater Area, It’s disgusting. I mean, meaning that Oh, my word. And I will never forget that standing there When the woman that I do all my networking with there looked at me and said that Sharon from new beginnings, I said, Are you kidding me in this little town? And she said, No, that’s how bad it is here. I mean, it’s one litter after another that would enter that poor woman’s rescue last month, I mean, and And guess what? If they hadn’t been flown out, that either means, eh? All of those puppies would now be reproducing at six months old, which you can see how these month numbers begin to multiply so quickly and get out of control. And or every single one of those 5700 animals would have been euthanized and and nothing. Nothing’s wrong with them. They’re not sick. They didn’t bite someone. They’re not terrible. They’re not terrible animals. They were just born. That’s their mistake, you know, And I tell people all the time, you know, we as adults, we can, you know, we can say he listen. No, thank you. I don’t want to have sex tonight. Not, uh Or, you know, you could grab a condom And, you know, we could make this happy and fun and no one’s going to get pregnant or I could be on birth control. Thes pets don’t have that option. I mean, their job is to teach to procreate. So our job is to get it under control and make it stop. And that’s that’s what we really tried to teach to it. Snip is that, you know, these animals don’t have a choice. It’s just biologically what they dio and they’re not able to practice safe sex. Yeah. No, I like the bluntness and the transparency of that message because that’s really what will resonate with people instead of it being the right thing to do. It’s kind of saying, Listen, I mean, you know this and I know this. They can’t help themselves. They can’t just decide not to do this. It’s a different. It’s a different spin on the message, and I think it’s probably very effective. Absolutely. And like I said, I there’s just people who even come to me and they’re like, Oh my God, I had no idea my female dog could get pregnant at seven months like, yeah, and your cat can get pregnant at four months, five months. It’s also an education thing, and we’re really trying to help that in every community. A swell again, not judging. We just want to be part of the solution. That’s what’s really important. Yeah, I can definitely hear that Coming through that non judgmental approach, which is something I always preach to people and rescue is that, you know, we’re all people and we have that knowledge, that understanding. But you’re going into somebody else’s community. And so deal says area, and you’re, you know, talk with talk with respect to them, talk with empathy, try and help them understand why it’s the right thing, and then what I love about what you guys are doing. You’re pairing that with a very affordable solutions so that it’s not to your point, something they have to decide. Do I, you know, feed my kids or device Fay, my dog, right? And that happens a lot. I mean, that’s that’s what happens a lot And I’ll tell you the other thing was snip. You were talking about going to the communities, something that I’m very proud of, and I I’ve always stayed committed and true to this, and I get a lot of flak for it sometimes. But I’ll never deviate. We do not ask for i d If you live in another city or another town, you’re welcome wherever we are located, as long as you have an appointment. So in other words, you know, in my particular town here, if you’re in Palm Springs and we have a clinic there. But you excuse me that you live in Cathedral City, which is a town next door, you don’t have to show proof of where you live. You don’t need to fill out all this paperwork and bring a utility bill, etcetera, etcetera. Just bring your pet and bring your cash and let’s get this done. And that’s what has been so effective for snap in. Some cities have said to me Well, we’d like the paperwork because, you know, we’d like to find out where they live in eccentric cetera, with regards to getting them license. And I’m like, no way over my dead body not gonna happen. Because once that starts happening and they lose trust, they will not bring their pets. Yeah, that’s a really good point. You’ve made it really simple, and you focus the mission on the purpose. The purpose is not to get them license the purposes, not count them and all these other things. The purpose is to get them spayed or neutered. The purpose is to get them spay and neuter it. Exactly. And if those dogs drove or cats, maybe I would have an I d ask for it. But until then, No, my my whole heart and soul is about these animals. And I’ve been in and out of shelters for years, and I’ve seen some things that I never want to have to see again. And having said that, it’s what drives me every day to keep these to keep our doors open. And you know what? We again were a grassroots project. You know, we don’t have deep pockets, you know, we’re We don’t make hundreds of thousands of dollars. Every single dime that we get when we get it goes back directly to the animals. My board doesn’t take a nickel of this money that’s donated. They go back to every single project in every single city that we focus in. That is really impressive, and it’s just really impressive what you guys have been able to do. And just the short three years you’ve been in operation, Yeah, was mind blowing to me. Timeline. Yeah, and that’s where things were going to begin is to make an impact. And it just takes somebody that’s got the, you know, just like yourself that just says, Listen, I don’t know anything about this, but it’s a problem and I’m going to solve it. And then there’s There’s plenty of people out there that’ll help and resource is, and we’re all working together at this. We really are. And you know, I’m I’m so proud of you. If I may just tell you the story quickly because this just happened yesterday, it was at the end of the day we were in Hollister, my unit, yesterday, today and today we’re in Hollister’s well, but we were in a different location yesterday and Hollister at the animal shelter for the very first time, we’ve had the pleasure of working with the chief of police there and a lot of lovely volunteers. And now we’re at their shelter. Yesterday and one of my volunteers called in the beginning. It was not a pretty situation with what was going on there, heavily animal overpopulated there. No one was coming up with a solution. And now they have snip. And now this whole little town has donated, if you will 30 to $40,000 for a two year project to get to the solution of this problem, which I’m very proud of, every single one of them. Having said that, there was a lot of hard feelings there between the chief, the the shelter, the people in the community and yesterday, the call that I received from one of the volunteers, just her telling the story to meet. She wanted to let me know what an amazing day it was for them because for the first time, they were able to sit there with the head of the shelter, the chief, all of them together, smiling, feeling good, not fighting, not arguing and knowing At the end of the day, all of those animals were going to get fixed. We also pulled five animals yesterday from the shelter and fix them so that they could go on to be adopted more quickly and or pulled by other rescues. And that’s a big commitment for me now, with snapped when we are in communities. I really do wanna work with the’s very overcrowded shelters because these dogs sit on death row or cats where they probably would be pulled or rescued a lot faster if they were fixed. So it was just such an amazing conversation. Shia tears. I had tears and there’s so many stories like that that happened was snipped and it’s it’s again. I just wanted to share it because it just happened yesterday and I said, Excuse me, Susan, I said, I am so glad you picked up the phone to call me. You made my whole night because before hand it was just a mess. I mean, people were angry and fighting and, you know, and and rightfully so, you know, There you’re you’re killing tons of animals. You’re not euthanizing. You’re killing them because there’s too many. And now we have the solution, and everyone’s just so grateful and working together. Yeah, now I think that’s a great story of what? The outcome becomes right. And it does take a community working together, and it does take thes solutions. And I’m really glad that you came on today to talk about this and what you’ve done and how you’ve made it possible. Is there anything else that you wanted to mention before we wrap things up? No, I’m just very grateful for people like you who take the time to, you know, Tio really shine light on these low cost mobile spay and neuter solutions. And I say it all the time. We cannot rescue our way out of this anymore. We just can’t. It’s just out of control. And until we begin to get it under control, then we can go back to the days of when rescue was fun and enjoyable and not daunting. And I say that with love in my heart. I deal with rescues every day and and I love every one of them out there who are so giving. But again, we we just cannot rescue our way out of this problem. We just can’t. Well, Melanie, thank you so much for coming on the program today. It was great to talk to you thank you. I appreciate it. And I hope that people will go to snipbus.org and make a nice donation again. It’s a grassroots project, and every little donation counts. Thanks for tuning into today’s podcast.  If you’re not already a member, join the ARPA to take advantage of all of the resources we have to offer.  And don’t forget to sign-up with Doobert.com. It’s free and helps automate the most difficult tasks in animal rescue.

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