Treasures await at Eugene thrift store and animal shelter


Tracy Sydor, Beckie Jones -EDN

SARA’s Treasures, a local nonprofit organization, thrift store and pet adoption center is regarded in the community for its commitment to rescuing hundreds of homeless pets. But the organization could use some help itself.

The animal shelter/thrift store is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year

SARA’s (Shelter Animal Rescue Alliance) receives no government funding or grants, and relies solely on private donations.  But the organization undergoes a drastic drop in support every summer, according to Co-Director Jessica Berg.

“Summer is the hardest time for us financially. By the end of summer, both fiscal and thrift store donations are at their lowest,” says Berg. She attributes part of the drop in donations to the abundance of garage sales being held this time of year, and says “we lose a lot of shoppers for that same reason.”

Ninety-six percent of SARA’s $200,000 annual income comes from the sale of donated items. SARA’s also sells high end pet food, which provides the other four percent of its budget. Income from thrift sales and other donations goes toward rent, vet bills, utilities, pet food and other supplies. SARA’s also has a paid staff of three full time and seven part time employees, but it relies heavily on volunteers to keep costs to a minimum.

"Stewie" waits at the shelter for a home

Berg says operational costs are much higher each summer, too, as springtime litters of kittens fill local shelters to capacity. The cost to care for newly-rescued pets with spay/neuter surgeries, vaccines, microchipping and a vet checkup, can easily deplete the rescue funds.

Over the years, SARA’s has also shared its finances with numerous rescue groups and low income pet owners by sponsoring the spaying and neutering of nearly 200 animals — in effect preventing the unwanted births of nearly 1,000 cats and 400 dogs. SARA’s also collects food, blankets and other supplies to distribute to area shelters that are facing shortages.

The shelter rescues last-chance type cats and dogs from Lane County Animal Rescue just days before scheduled euthanization.

On-site Living

Around the store, a loving long-haired calico kitty extends an invitation for affection while others sprawl lazily about. Some watch customers from distant bookshelves while others curl up beneath clothing racks. The more curious cats bump and nudge customers as if to say in true cat style, “you now have my permission to pet me.”

The cats in residence are given a diet of wet food in the mornings, then those that require  medicine get their doses. Young kittens are given lunch, and the whole group reconvenes for  a big dinner around 8 p.m.

“The cats at this point have full run of the shop till morning,” says Berg. Some cats like to  pass time in an outdoor enclosure for exercise and fresh air.

SARA's Co-director Jessica Berg gives "Stewie" some attention

Best suited for felines, the shelter has a designated area for stray dogs, too. SARA’s dog  runs currently sit empty because it has no dog rescue coordinator. Berg says SARA’s relies on foster homes to care for the dogs in times like these, and that the organization is in desperate need of the help of expert dog volunteers.

Unforseen circumstances

Everyone knows what brings an animal to an animal shelter: a death in the family, a move that doesn’t allow for pets in residence, or more likely these days the sudden inability to afford pet food and veterinary care. Often pets are the first “luxury” to go. They can be the biggest losers in unforeseen circumstances, as many endure numerous new living situations during their lifetimes.

So Berg says when considering a pet, “act as if you are adopting a member of your own family. Pets can live up to 20 or more years and need consistent care.”

You can always come home

SARA’s Treasures honors a lifetime return policy for the pets they adopt out, so it’s important for the shop to reserve space should it become necessary.

In 2005 SARA’s rescued Neptune and Venus, a brother and sister pair, from Lane County Animal Shelter when the cats were 7 years old. Berg fondly recalls Neptune’s two differently colored eyes. SARA’s adopted the pair out together, but in February of 2009 the adoptive family could no longer care for them and turned them back to the shelter. Both cats were suffering from heath problems, but were nursed back to health by SARA staff. Then this summer Neptune was diagnosed with a melanoma in his right eye. The veterinarian said the eye would have to be removed so SARA’s moved forward with the surgery. Neptune came through the procedure with flying colors and started on the path of healing. After two weeks his stitches came out, and since then SARA’s staff says he is acting much like a kitten.

"Ambrosia" is a meticulous "overgroomer" who wears this collar so she can relax

The dream continues

Now retired, SARA’s Treasures was founded by Diana Robertson in 2001. Robertson saw a need in Eugene, and wanted to help alleviate the overcrowding at other animal rescue agencies. Robertson also arranged transfers for dogs to rescue shelters in other areas with lower euthanasia rates in order to improve their chances of being adopted.

In order to continue its success, SARA’s is asking for donations of all types of household goods that are in reasonable shape.

“Clothes, jewelry, books, CDs, even household appliances if they’re small enough and in working condition,” SARA’s can use them, said Berg.

SARA’s Treasures is located at 871 River Road and is open every day from 10 to 6. The phone number is 541-607-8892.

You can find more information on the organization at

Did you know:

SARA’s numbers
200 cats and dogs have been neutered due to SARA’s sponsorship
768 cats have been rescued and placed by SARA’s
958 dogs have been rescued and placed by SARA’s
1,000 additional cats are estimated to have been spared due to SARA’s sponsorship of neutering
400 additional dogs are estimated to have been spared due to SARA’s sponsorship of neutering
96 percent of SARA’s income comes from the sale of donated items
200,000 – SARA’s annual budget in dollars

National numbers
70 percent of shelter cats are destroyed
50 percent of shelter dogs are destroyed
10 percent of animals have been neutered before arriving at the shelter
75 percent of owned pets are neutered
70 million stray cats are wandering the US, as estimated by ASPCA
100- low estimate of how many kittens an unaltered female cat can produce in her lifetime
40– low estimate of how many puppies an unaltered female dog can produce in her lifetime
fact credit: ASPCA

Furry facts from ASPCA
Neutering your pet is cheaper than caring for one litter of kittens or puppies.

 Neutering greatly calms your pet and reduces risk of aggressive behavior and runaways.

Neutering your pet greatly increases the chances your pet will live a long, healthy life, reducing animal breast cancer by 50 percent, and animal testicular cancer by 70%.


SARA's Treasures is open seven days a week


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