Berkeley-based animal rescue organization raises more than $20K

Bella Vita/Courtesy

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A GoFundMe campaign created by Bella Vita Rescue, a nonprofit based in Berkeley dedicated to rescuing animals from high-kill shelters, has raised $21,946 of its $50,000 goal in nine days.

The campaign was created Feb. 26 to raise funds for a new transit van and to cover additional expenses in caring for the animals. Jill Marsh, founder of Bella Vita Rescue, said the donations would help the nonprofit rescue more dogs and provide them with proper veterinary care, in addition to funding a new van.

Currently, Marsh and her daughter transport dogs to their new homes around the country in their SUV.

“With a new van, I can go to shelters myself to pick up dogs and deliver more dogs to other states,” Marsh said.

The mission statement on Bella Vita’s website reads, “Our mission is to make change in the high-kill system; closing loopholes in the present Hayden’s Law, as well as create safe havens for dogs, horses and truly whatever crosses our rescue’s path.”

The Hayden Act, passed in 1998, states that animals impounded in public shelters may be killed after four to six business days or may be released to rescue organizations in certain circumstances.

Bella Vita Rescue has placed all of the animals it has rescued in homes, and Marsh believes all dogs should be given the chance to find a home.

Recently, YouTuber Shane Dawson adopted a dog from Bella Vita Rescue in San Francisco, and Marsh delivered his new dog to Los Angeles free of charge. Dawson posted a video about Bella Vita Rescue on his channel, where he described Marsh and her daughter’s dedication to rescuing animals.

“They genuinely love finding dogs homes,” Dawson said in a YouTube video.

Dawson is sponsored by BarkBox, a company that sends its subscribers a box of dog toys and treats every month. Through this sponsorship, Dawson was able to donate $30,000 to Bella Vita Rescue, which will help the nonprofit pay for a new van. He also shared its GoFundMe link in the video’s description.

Along with rescuing dogs and finding homes for them, Bella Vita Rescue holds puppy party gatherings, brings dogs to companies and hospitals to boost morale and finds specific breeds for adopters. Marsh said she will match adopters to the breed of dog they are looking for and deliver that dog to them, no matter where they are.

“People who have left comments and supported us are just angels,” Marsh said. “Even when people can’t donate, their comments and the support we’re getting are worth more than any amount of money.”

Marsh wants to amend the Hayden Act so no animal may be killed in shelters and called on young people to bring about this change.  

“I’ve always told this generation that you’re never too young to make a difference,” Marsh said. “You don’t have to wait until you’re in college or until you graduate. Do it now.”

Contact Amanda Bradford at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @amandabrad_uc.