10 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY april 4-10, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com Two nonprofits working in Monterey County match people who experienced trauma with dogs in need. Soquel-based UnChained teaches youth to train homeless dogs in basic skills and manners. Since 2011, the nonprofit has paired nearly 400 kids with 200 dogs. “Rarely do our kids get asked to help somebody in need,” says Melissa Wolf, founder and board president. “Training, socializing and helping to place these dogs into adoptive homes is an attainable goal that helps our kids believe in their value to their community.” UnChained matches youth ages 11-25 in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties with puppies and dogs, where they work in teams of two with an adult coach. The young trainers have often experienced violence, poverty or addiction. While dog obedience is the task and pet adoption is the goal, Wolf says the benefits reach far deeper. “While training and socializing is extremely beneficial to improving the dogs’ chances for adoption, training dogs is primarily used as a vehicle for our youth to see their own capacity for kindness, compassion, patience, respect and responsibility for themselves and others,” Wolf says. “Dogs give honest feedback.” These meaningful benefits inspired the Veterans Transition Center to build a new program of its own. The Stripes and Paws program is a fresh idea for the 28-year-old organization, which provides housing and resources to veterans to help build self-sufficiency. “It’s very exciting to work toward this goal,” says Mike Stull, chief operating officer at VTC. “We’re combining many things we wish to provide to our veterans [with this initiative].” The program, approved by the VTC board on March 20, envisions veterans providing several pet services to the community. Stull describes a “threephase idea,” eventually providing dog training, grooming and a 16-kennel boarding facility on four acres of VTC’s headquarters in Marina. (They aim to raise $350,000 to construct it.) “Pets can be a major source of comfort for the veteran,” he says. “When we don’t break up that unit, the veteran has a much higher chance of achieving self-sufficiency.” Additional goals include generating revenue for VTC and providing longterm employment for veterans. But Stull also emphasizes the importance of the “canine-human connection.” “Canine therapy is extremely powerful,” he says. “[Dogs can] reduce suicidal tendencies and provide a sense of accomplishment. Both are working to support each other.” Laura Fenwick rides a friend’s horse boarded at Pebble Beach Equestrian Center at least once a week, riding on 27 miles of scenic trails along the shoreline and through Del Monte Forest. She fears the magic of those rides are coming to an end with plans by Pebble Beach Company to close the 100-year-old Equestrian Center by June. “This was one of the last places on the Peninsula you could sign up to go for a trail ride,” Fenwick says. She and a group of other dedicated horse enthusiasts are making a bid to PBC to reverse its decision, or at the very least agree to a compromise that will give equestrians a way to continue the tradition of horseback riding in the coastal area. “We’re sad,” she says. “It’s like taking the golf courses away from the golf people.” Company officials cited decreased income and usage as reasons for the closure, plus a need for $15 million in renovations. The decision is final, according to a spokesperson. Stephen Pellett, who runs his training business at the center, disputes PBC’s account, saying it had a waiting list of 50 people wanting to board who were not let in. He believes there was a way to make the center profitable. Fenwick and others at least want a way for horse owners to bring their horses into Pebble Beach by trailer. Reportedly there are plans in the works for trailers to be parked close to the trail system, which PBC officials have said they will continue to maintain. Since the company’s announcement, at least 25 of the 60 horses have been relocated by their owners. Owners are being offered rent rebates and assistance in relocating. Some horses owned by the company will be rehomed. Employees will have an opportunity to take jobs elsewhere in PBC. An online petition started by Pellett (online at bit. ly/reversePBCdecision) has gathered over 2,500 signatures. Fenwick says they are approaching the Monterey County Planning Commission for help, which approved a 2013 PBC housing plan that included the construction of a new equestrian center. Bark Power Nonprofits celebrating the ‘canine-human connection’ see continued growth. By Caitlin Fillmore news ACCESS for all The California Commission on Disability Access and the Civil Rights Office hold a discussion about access to small businesses. Business owners can learn how to accommodate all customers, including those with disabilities. 2-5pm Thursday, April 11. Virtual or in-person at the County of Monterey Board of Supervisors Chambers, 168 W. Alisal St., Salinas. Free; refreshments provided. (916) 319-9974, ccda@cgs. ca.gov. RENTER INPUT Residents are asked to share their thoughts about rent stabilization and tenant protections as the City of Salinas considers an ordinance. A survey is now available online, and multiple community meetings will follow. Residents can complete the survey online at bit.ly/SalinasTenantSurvey. Free. 758-7381, cityofsalinas.org. BOX ART The City of Seaside is looking for artists to celebrate the city’s 70th birthday by beautifying eight utility boxes with original, all-ages-appropriate artwork. Artists can submit work samples and applications on the city’s website. 5pm Friday, April 12 deadline to apply. Free; selected artists will be awarded $500. Contact Leslie Llantero with questions at Lllantero@ci.seaside. ca.us. 899-6832, ci.seaside.ca.us. ALL RISE Monterey County residents are invited to apply to serve on the Civil Grand Jury for one year. Grand jurors serve as watchdogs over the actions of public officials and will be trained to investigate topics then conduct interviews, research subjects and write reports with recommendations on how to improve government operations. Friday, May 3 is the deadline to apply. Information sessions will follow on Wednesday, May 8 at the Jury Assembly room at the Monterey Courthouse, 1200 Aguajito Road, Monterey; 2pm Thursday, May 9 at the Salinas Courthouse, 240 Church St., Salinas; and 10:30am Friday, May 10 at the King City Courthouse, 250 Franciscan Way, King City. 764-3094, monterey.courts.ca.gov/news/invitation-apply-civil-grand-jury. TIRED TIRES Tire recycling is happening at several locations. You can bring tires to one of three locations to dispose of them properly, for free. Tires accepted until May 19. Salinas Valley Recycles Recycling Center, 1104 Madison Lane, Salinas; Johnson Canyon Landfill, 31400 Johnson Canyon Road, Gonzales; Jolon Road Transfer Station, 5265 Jolon Road, King City. Free. 775-3000, svswa.org. Rough Riders Horse lovers ask Pebble Beach Company to compromise in lieu of closing its equestrian center. By Pam Marino The Stripes and Paws program is run by Wiley’s Wish and VTC at the prison in Soledad, coaching inmates to train rescue dogs that will act as service dogs for veterans. e-mail: toolbox@mcweekly.com TOOLBOX “Dogs give honest feedback.” Daniel Dreifuss The Pet Issue