Rancho Santa Fe resident’s unique nonprofit Art for Barks helps support animals and artists

Through her nonprofit Art for Barks, Rancho Santa Fe’s Lynn Moon has found an outlet that combines all of her passions: her drive to help others; her commitment to raising awareness about animal issues and promoting better pet care; and her lifelong love of art and support of artists of all kinds.

Art for Barks is a unique nonprofit that creates an online community to showcase animal artists and writers, and offers services to assist pet parents while supporting local animal charities. Moon’s goals are to be a major voice for service dogs and mustangs, and to reduce animal abandonment.

“We’re using the visual images and literary works to create an entire new and larger community of pet lovers who are charmed by the substance of what we’re doing,” Moon said.

The organization’s first big charity fundraiser will be held on Sunday, Sept. 21, at the San Diego Polo Fields. The event will feature polo matches, an animal fine art show, an Arabian horse demonstration, a wine tasting and an after-party social hour. Main sponsors include The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, Marvin K. Brown Auto Center and Fashion Week San Diego, which will also put on a fashion show with service dogs walking alongside the models.

Leading up to the event, people will be able to vote through social media in a Hero Service Dog contest and the award will be given at the party.

The contest is just one way to educate the public about all of the things that service dogs can do, Moon said.

The Art for Barks website offers a high-quality art museum focusing on works featuring dogs, cats, horses and wildlife. Moon said just as an aquarium uses fish to educate about conservation, Art for Barks uses art and literary works to inspire and educate about quality pet care.

Art for Barks has about 30 artists displaying works with the nonprofit, such as artist Trish Biddle’s warm tribute to a service dog and Carol Santora’s stunning impressionistic mural of running horses, a mural showcased at The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe.

Providing support for artists is important to Moon as well — since 2008, two-thirds of all art galleries in the country have closed. She said animal-theme writers have also had challenges because of changes in the publishing industry.

A native Californian, Moon and her husband, David, have lived in Rancho Santa Fe since they married at age 30. Her pet family includes two Labradors — Chaco and Sage — and four feral cats.

Moon said she has always loved animals and, like many children, once aspired to become a veterinarian. Her career took a different route, however, into business and finance —she was the first female in the country to be hired by the stock brokerage firm E.F. Hutton & Co.

“I love to create and to make a contribution to the community, so I needed to be in a self-employed role so that being a woman would not limit me in terms of what I did,” said Moon, whose self-employed finance career allowed her the flexibility to pursue philanthropy and art. “So often we think we can only do one thing, but I’m not of that perspective.”

Moon has been an artist for most of her life, focused on sculpture. When she first retired, she went to classical art school, studying drawing and anatomy.

“I was the only one in the room that was a beginner, so I had to work really hard,” Moon said. “That’s when I developed a love and appreciation for artists.”

Moon has been working on building Art for Barks for the last 3 1/2 years. As the website is so important for all the services Art for Barks provides, one of the biggest tasks for Moon was finding a corporate programmer to make the art gallery, the pet registry and pet care information come together and work efficiently.

“I didn’t realize that I would be working 12 to 14 hours a day. I think when you have a sense of responsibility — and we’re low-budget, just a few volunteers have to do everything — to do it properly you have to work pretty long hours. It’s joyful hours. When you work by inspiration, your quality of life goes way up. It’s very different than working for money.”

Art for Barks’ primary service is its free Pet Care Registry that helps pet parents prepare for emergencies and protect their pet’s health and welfare. The registry includes names of people who can care for the pet if the owner is not available, as well as details about medication and foods.

They have a “very novel” medical records drop box where pet parents can upload all of those paper records that tend to get lost.

“It really protects the pet families,” Moon said. “If a pet emergency happens after hours when a general vet is closed, an emergency clinic can have access to all of a pet’s records. It saves time and money and can save a life, because time is everything when taking care of a pet emergency.”

Art for Barks has also developed a wallet emergency card that provides the “who and how” to care for pets.

“It’s something that no one thinks about until it’s too late,” Moon said.

The card has spaces for people to fill out their pet information, as well as a link to the Art for Barks pet registry.

“There are a lot of gaps out there in pet care,” Moon said. “We’re just trying to think of those things and provide them free to the public. And if the public appreciates those things, they can donate to our charity and we’ll be able to expand our services.”

Last year Art for Barks also worked with the R. Roger Rowe School on a yearlong program about service dogs in conjunction with the assistance dog charity Tender Loving Canines. Art for Barks’ book club had the children creating art and literary work about service dogs that resulted in a book. She hopes to continue the program this year.

They are also working on a mobile app that will make Pet Registry information uploads even easier, and they are also looking to partner with a manufacturer of a quality dog tag that could direct people to the Art for Barks website.

In life, Moon said her philosophy has always been that when you’re handed lemons, you make lemonade. Building Art for Barks has had its share of trials and tribulations, but it just makes the positive results even sweeter.

“You have to be resilient and creative and you have to find support,” Moon said. “We’re out there now looking for support.”

To support Art for Barks, visit artforbarks.org.

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