for the dogs
Center for Animal Protection and Education (CAPE)
P.O. Box 67176
Scotts Valley, CA 95067-7176
“In this business, you meet the best of the best and the worst of the worst.”
The “business” JP Novic refers to is animal advocacy, her passion for more than 30 years. To that end, Novic helped found the Center for Animal Protection and Education (CAPE), a nonprofit organization that seeks to educate people about the plight of animals–both companion and farm–in our society.
CAPE accomplishes this through myriad ways; rescue and adoption, online shows, a video library, presentations, a hospice program, and assistance with veterinary bills. Although CAPE was formed in Santa Cruz County, Novic considers it a regional protection organization. Dogs are rescued from several shelters besides Santa Cruz, including the Marin, Silicon Valley and Palo Alto Humane Societies. Novic explained that her organization collaborates with other animal-protection organizations like Compassion Without Borders, a nonprofit that delivers much-needed vet services and supplies to Mexican shelters and also rescues as many dogs as they can to bring back over the border for adoption. CAPE also works closely with Animal Place, a sanctuary for farm animals in Grass Valley, California.
Finding that perfect “forever family” for a foster may take awhile. “We focus on the special-needs dogs,” said Novic, “not the highly adoptable.” She notes that potential adopters usually overlook older dogs or those with medical conditions. Asked about some of her favorite adoption stories, Novic recalled Honey, a 12-year-old Chihuahua-mix that she thought might be almost impossible to place. “But,” Novic said, “A lady stepped forward two months later and adopted her.” Since its inception in 1992, CAPE has rescued and placed almost 1,900 animals, primarily dogs.
CAPE is one of the few rescue organizations that offers a hospice program for terminally ill animals. In fact, Novic has just accepted a goat with advanced cancer. With the Veterinary Care Assistance Program, CAPE will also assist with medical bills. Novic cautioned that this program only takes veterinarian-referred cases.
Besides animal rescue, CAPE also offers educational videos for rent from their former program on Santa Cruz Community Television (SCCT), Speaking of Animals. With titles like “Cruelty at the Rodeo,” “Wildlife Rehab,” and “T-Touch for Animals,” the series aimed to teach its audience how to care for, respect and protect all creatures great and small. CAPE recently launched an online program, Animal Eyes, which features five-minute videos on a variety of subjects that address animal protection.
Asked what moved her from a career as occupational therapist to full-time advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves, Novic remembers an incident that opened her eyes to the transcendence of animals. While she was working at Stanford, the hospital admitted a young boy with neurofibromatosis, better known as the “Elephant Man” disease. The boy, far from home and most of his family, became severely depressed and would not interact with either the staff or other patients. Novic and her colleagues asked the Peninsula Humane Society to bring in animals to visit him. She watched the boy change from profoundly depressed to joyful as he played with the dogs, cats, and rabbits. “I recognized how powerful animals are as healers,” said Novic. “I realized I was in the wrong business.”
Within six months Novic had found a part-time job with the Palo Alto Humane Society. Since then, she has worked with the Peninsula Humane Society, the Humane Farming Association, and held a non-paid position on the Letterman Army Institute of Research’s Animal Use Committee, which oversees research projects done on animals. Witnessing what was done to research animals behind closed doors inspired Novic to “do the very best I can for the most amount of animals.”
Novic repeatedly stressed that CAPE is not about her. “There is no way we could have done this lifesaving work without all the people who stepped forward from the community to help.” She is referring to the 30-plus volunteers who rescue, foster, produce media, offer to transport animals and dozens of other tasks required of any nonprofit on a shoestring budget.
Asked what she sees in the future for CAPE, Novic was excited to share about the organization’s expansion to Grass Valley. She and her husband, Josh, bought ten acres to be developed as a sanctuary next to Animal Place’s 600-acre sanctuary, where the two organizations will eventually join forces. Cathy Townsend, presently manager of the Fosters and Adoption Program, will continue to run CAPE here in Santa Cruz County.
In response to CAPE’s invitation, controversial president and co-founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Ingrid Newkirk, will speak at an event in Scotts Valley September 26th. Refer to CAPEanimals.org for ticket information.
Novic is asked how she manages to stay upbeat in the face of so much suffering she has witnessed in the last three decades. “I focus on the animals we save,” Novic responded. “And we have an incredible community of people willing to fight the good fight.”
Kelly Luker owns Little Pup Lodge (www.littlepuplodge.com), a cage-free boarding facility designed exclusively for small dogs. She has written for Runner's World, Salon.com and various alternative weeklies.