In May 2014, County officials were surprised to learn that the County Health Agency’s Division of Animal Services had been named as a primary benefactor of Cambria resident Greta Kraum’s estate. When she passed away, she left a generous gift of more than $310,000. This remains the single largest donation ever received by Animal Services. An animal lover her entire life, Ms. Kraum wanted these funds to benefit the neediest animals throughout the community.
At the time, however, the future of the Animal Services shelter was uncertain, as the County was considering construction of a new facility. To ensure that these funds were handled judiciously and in a manner in line with Ms. Kraum’s intentions, the County waited to decide on how the funds should be used until there was greater clarity about the future shelter and its needs.
With direction from the County Board of Supervisors in 2015 to pursue the construction of a new shelter, a working group evaluated options for how Ms. Kraum’s gift should be applied. This group looked at several different ideas – ranging from spay and neuter certificates to mobile adoption units. In the end, however, the group concluded that the Ms. Kraum’s gift should be used to establish an endowment, which would generate a lasting source of funds that could be applied to a range of programs and activities benefiting the welfare of animals in San Luis Obispo County.
Animal Services worked with The Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo County to establish the Community Animal Welfare Fund, which was officially created in October 2016. This fund is expressly designed to support and promote County Animal Services programs, activities, and operations which directly benefit the care and welfare of domestic and companion animals. It may not be applied to any expense that the County would otherwise be legally obligated to fund.
The creation of this endowment has allowed Ms. Kraum’s generosity to take on a lasting and substantial impact, while also preserving the flexibility to target different welfare needs as they change over time. Conceivably, this endowment may support future programs like the issuance of spay and neuter vouchers to pet owners, aid in providing veterinary care for needy families, or establish behavioral training programs to help dogs remain at home with their owners rather than being turned in to the shelter.
By establishing this endowment through The Community Foundation, other individuals who would also like to contribute to Ms. Kraum’s vision and intent have the opportunity to do so. Through continued donations, the Community Animal Welfare Fund has the potential to substantially benefit the welfare of animals throughout San Luis Obispo County for years to come.