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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

"The West Coast's Premier Fleet Marine Force Training Base"

Camp Pendleton community comes together to care for pets

By Cpl. Shaltiel Dominguez | Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | March 17, 2015


Each day is a new day for the dogs and cats at the Camp Pendleton Animal Shelter, and with it comes a chance for a family to adopt them and give them a home. For them, each day is a chance to be saved.

The shelter is staffed by five Department of Defense employees and two contractors that work as caretakers. On a normal day, they clean, feed and treat the animals. They also license pets that come on base and allow potential adopters to interact with the animals.

The Caretaker

Tim Wensel is one of the caretakers at the Pendleton Animal Shelter. Alongside volunteer Marines, he assists base personnel, civilians and animal owners and helps them take care of animals. As part of the animal shelter, he is part of the team that holds events to promote pet adoption.

“The St. Patrick’s Day Lucky Adoption Event was an opportunity for residents on base and off base to adopt an animal at a reduced rate,” said Wensel. “We want to provide the animals with a home and enrich their lives. For some people pets are a part of their family and if people have children, it’s an opportunity for them to learn responsibility and care for someone.”

With events like the St. Patrick’s Day Lucky Adoption Event, the normal adoption fees of $110 for dogs and $85 for cats are reduced to a cheaper amount which the adopters randomly draw from a hat. The fees are inclusive of neutering, a rabies vaccine, tracking microchip, and a distemper vaccine and flea control.

The Volunteer

For Lance Cpl. Tatiana Resto, a volunteer at the base animal shelter, her work is a labor of love. Resto works as a combat engineer, but she spends time during her lunch break and on weekends to pursue her passion for taking care of the animals. Having volunteered for nearly two years and having overseen the adoption of her many furry friends, she describes the experience as being like a foster mom.

“I’m an animal advocate, so volunteering like this is my outlet,” said Resto, a volunteer at the Camp Pendleton Animal Shelter, as she picked up two small Chihuahuas, Beans and Burrito, coddling them in her arms. “It’s bittersweet when an animal gets adopted. I love them so I want to keep them, but I want them to have a family at the same time.”

Many kinds of people adopt animals at the shelter for various reasons, from active-duty Marines to civilians and retired personnel off-base. The one common factor they look for in the pets is the feeling of faithful companionship.

The Family

Lance Cpl. Dakota Bracken is an infantryman and he will soon deploy with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. He and his wife Lauren came to the base shelter to find a dog that can keep her company and protect her as he goes away.

Together, they’ve adopted Rambo, a four-year-old American Bulldog, and he is now a part of their family. Rambo is a common bond they share despite their distance apart.

“I’m going to deploy soon and me and my wife thought it would be a good idea bring a dog into our family,” said Bracken. “Dogs are faithful companions. It’ll be nice to have Rambo with the family all the time. I can imagine him running around back home and having fun, especially with all the cows he can play with.”

The Rescuer

Petty Officer 3rd Class Mary Miller wanted to have a positive impact in the animals’ lives. She came to the St. Patrick’s Day event to adopt a dachshund, not only to give it a home, but to also free up space at the shelter. This allows the shelter to house more animals, providing them with a safe environment to thrive in.

“I learned about the event online and when I came here and saw this dog, I immediately wanted to adopt him,” said Miller. “When I adopt this dog, it opens up a spot at the shelter for a dog that could be put down any day now.”

At the end of the day, the relationship is mutually beneficial. While the dogs and cats provide companionship, the families provide a better future for the animals at the shelter.

“I wanted to give him a home and be able to save him,” added Miller. “It feels good to be able to make a difference in the animals’ lives.”