"I've unofficially been rescuing animals since high school," she said.
Now the foundation that she incorporated in 2001 is preparing to hold its second annual wine dinner fund-raiser at CuvÃ©e Del Mar, located at 2334 Carmel Valley Road in Del Mar, on Sunday, May 7, starting at 6 p.m.
"It's five-course dinner with wines paired to each course, plus a champagne reception," said event chair and board member Dr. Mitzi Howard, also a veterinarian and specialist in emergency and critical care. "One of our donors is providing Veuve Clicquot. We've had a lot of nice wines donated by distributors."
The menu starts with an appetizer of scallops with a Sauvignon Blanc, followed by a salad paired with Chardonnay, wild salmon matched with Pinot Noir, and a petite filet mignon with Cabernet Sauvignon. Chocolate crÃ¨me brulÃ©e and Port complete the meal. Cost for the event is $125 per person, including tax and gratuity, of which $50 is a charitable contribution. Owner/chef Chuck Samuelson formerly operated a second Cuvee restaurant in Bird Rock, on La Jolla Boulevard.
Organizers are also selling raffle tickets for prizes that include wine and animal gift baskets plus dining certificates.
"Every dollar the public donates (to the foundation) goes directly to animal care. We have no paid staff members," explained Howard, a La Jolla resident. "Most of the animals that come into our foundation come from the shelter system or Humane Society, or other rescue organizations. Most are very sick or have serious injuries. They would be put to sleep at most other places."
"We try to choose animals that can be adopted out and make good, healthy pets. Occasionally we do special-needs animals," she added.
Foundation volunteers then find homes for the animals, through their own networks and Shelter Pet Partners.
Some of those "special needs" animals and rescued animals the foundation couldn't place "” currently five cats and two dogs "” now reside in La Jolla with Ford and her husband, a Camp Pendleton firefighter, and their four children, a 3-year-old son and 6-month-old triplets.
"There's a huge need for medical care for animals that are unowned," said Ford, a board certified veterinary specialist in internal medicine. "We see a lot of animal control (shelter) animals that are injured. They're either euthanized or healed. We treat them if funds are available."
Both Ford and Howard treat their animals at VCA Emergency Animal Hospital and Referral Center, a 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital located on Hotel Circle South in Mission Valley. Howard explained that the hospital charges them reduced rates for essential services and supplies. Ford, Howard and their colleague, surgeon Dr. Holly Mullen, donate their professional services.
Ford saved up money over a two-year period hoping to start her foundation.
She was able to incorporate the S. Ford Foundation sooner than expected, thanks to a generous donation from Barbara and Barry Rosenbaum. They were grateful to Ford and her veterinary associates for saving the life of their dog Bart from a usually fatal illness.
The foundation now relies on donations from the public and the proceeds from their annual fund-raisers, the wine dinner and a golf tournament, to raise money to underwrite treatment costs for the animals.
For a detailed menu for the wine dinner, to learn more about the foundation and its animal success stories and to view pictures of adoptable animals the foundation has rescued, visit their Web site at www.sfordfoundation.org. To make reservations for the dinner, please call CuvÃ©e Del Mar, (858) 259-5878.