Meet Your Neighbor: Vanessa Cruz
By Will Brown
When Vanessa Cruz was a child growing up in California, her parents would not let her own any pets. This was disappointing for someone who had always wanted to own a little zoo, but Cruz realized that animals just had a way of gravitating to her. People would bring stray animals to her even before she became an animal rescuer. Cruz moved to the Gulf Coast eight years ago and lived in a few different cities and towns before eventually settling in Long Beach. She worked in accounting for a while but began to realize she needed to be doing something she loved. After seeing a need for animal rescue in Long Beach, she decided to establish For Pet's Sake Rescue.
For Pet's Sake originated as a home- and foster-based rescue agency. Cruz started doing home rescues at first to see where that went and ended up doing home rescues for two and a half years. After building a network, the organization grew immensely, and they moved into a facility less than two months ago.
“It’s a lot bigger than I ever anticipated it to be, but I think that goes in hand with how big the need is,” Cruz said. About five or six months ago, Cruz realized that doing transport runs to rescue animals in different states would help make an impact and financially sustain the rescue. Cruz began getting in touch with out-of-state rescuers and has made multiple trips to Mobile, New York, Illinois, and Missouri since the end of August for transporting animals.
“That’s where our focus is going to be because the end result for these animals is to get them moved to places where it’s not overpopulated,” Cruz said. “That gets them adopted faster.”
For Pets Sake’s facility is currently housing around ninety cats, which are the only animals currently at the facility. Dogs are handled by fosters, because they need more space, attention and socialization with other dogs. Cruz also assists other rescuers and has worked to do wildlife rescue, as well, helping to rehab squirrels, possums, and racoons.
“At the end of the day, if I get a call about a racoon or a possum, I’m going to save it,” Cruz said. “I will rescue anything, as long as it isn’t going to kill me.”
The cats that arrive in the facility come in varying degrees of health, and some arrive with injuries or diseases that require medical attention.
“Each case is different,” Cruz said. “Some show up in better shape than others; we get a lot of diseases that flourish in heat and humidity. We have four different veterinarians, and each one specializes in a specific area they are needed for.”
In the future, Cruz would like to hire more staff members and expand For Pets Sake across the Gulf Coast to help out more animals.
“Everything I do revolves around my rescue,” Cruz said. “My rescue is also my hobby, and I don’t do anything else. I love 100% what I’m doing, and I’ve invested everything into that.”
Question: What is your favorite thing about Long Beach?
Answer: “It’s a community. Being able to build that community, knowing your neighbors and interacting with them is important to me. Growing up in California, I had that; and, as an adult, you kind of lose that. When I came out here to Long Beach, I knew a lot of great people, and that attracted me to buy a home in Long Beach and stay here, versus going to a different city.”
Question: How long have you lived in Long Beach?
Answer: “Probably between four and a half to five years”
Question: What is your favorite restaurant in Long Beach?
Answer: “Probably Basil Café; that’s where I end up going a lot. I really enjoy their food and Thai tea.”
Question: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Answer: “I love Italy - the architecture, food, language, the wine, land - I love it all. I think it’s an amazing place. I’ve always wanted to go there. I was very close, and then COVID hit. That put a damper on that plan, but it will happen soon.”
Question: If you won a million dollars in the lottery, how would you spend that money?
Answer: “It would be on animals. I was actually driving on the interstate the other day, and I saw the Powerball and I thought, what would I do with that money? I want financial security for myself, my future, my family; [I’d] buy a regular house. I’m very simple; I would not invest in anything extravagant. If I did do something extravagant, it would be animal-related…so a bigger facility, buy a property, maybe a property with a barn, so we could do more different kinds of animals, stuff like that. I’m really invested in this.”