SANTA ROSA (KPIX 5) – When two North Bay veterinarians volunteer, they save two lives: the person’s life and the life of their pet.
The veterinarians Dr. Kate Kuzminski and Dr. Sarah Reidenbach converted an ambulance into a free veterinary clinic on wheels.
Recently, it offered services outside of The Living Room, a domestic violence sanctuary in Santa Rosa. Kuzminski says the mission is to break the cycle of abuse.
“We know that in households with domestic violence and child abuse, 80 percent also have animal abuse,” she said.
But Reidenbach adds that getting out is not easy.
“Domestic violence survivors – up to 50 percent – are not left at risk if they cannot bring their pets,” she said.
NOMINATE A JEFFERSON AWARD HERO
Pet-friendly shelters require pets to be fully vaccinated and healthy before they are admitted. That’s why the two founded Ruthless Kindness in 2017. The non-profit organization works with around a dozen animal shelters for victims of abuse and the homeless.
Reidenbach and Kuzminski will receive calls around the clock to help with veterinary care and vaccines so a pet can accompany its owner in an animal shelter in search of safety.
“A woman who leaves or tries an abusive situation shouldn’t depend on her dog to be vaccinated,” said Kuzminski.
To date, Ruthless Kindness has helped about 300 pets in Sonoma County, in part through free monthly medical clinics like Dogwood Animal Rescue, which have volunteers who do everything from cutting nails to distributing donations like pet food and beds.
Dogwood volunteer Beth Jackson is amazed at what Kuzminski and Reidenbach have created.
“Not only do you save lives, but you also help people in need they cannot afford,” said Jackson.
One recipient just adopted two kittens and they received free vaccinations and pet food at the mobile clinic before they were all returned to the shelter where she lives.
“I’m just overwhelmed that there are people who are kind enough to give them time,” said Jen, not wanting to use her last name. “It’s a relief because I didn’t know how to get their shots.”
LEARN MORE: Jefferson Awards for Public Service
The co-founders of Ruthless Kindness both have full-time jobs outside of the nonprofit. Reidenbach is the managing director of Sonoma CART, an animal disaster team. Kuzminski is the medical director of guide dogs for the blind.
Your charitable work is entirely voluntary and is supported by donations and a generous helping of compassion.
“I’m a domestic violence survivor too, so I was able to need help,” Reidenbach said. “Serving the community I belong to is beautiful. I love to be able to do that. “
“It feels rewarding, but it feels like we should,” added Kuzminski.
That’s why this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Dr. Kate Kuzminski and Dr. Sarah Reidenbach for spreading “Ruthless Friendliness” to people at risk and their pets.