April 2021

In April, SFACC transferred 195 animals (54 dogs, 51 cats, and 90 other species) to partner organizations. The shelter directly adopted out 38 animals (10 dogs, 22 cats, and 6 other species).

Pepper the poodle has been adopted!

Cuteness overload personified. (Or is that dogified?) Harvey has left with his new family. Yay Harvey!

Kitten Season is here and our first kitten adoption of the season is (drumroll) Waffle & Cupcake. We’re always thrilled when kittens are adopted in pairs!

Adoption update: “I wanted to send a message to you all about Ms. Xena (Ybarra) Coleman. She rescued me and my boys around 5/31/2015. She has been with our family since then and has been a DREAM to be with. She’s an amazing mama girl. She’s loud, hungry, loyal, and just flat out amazing. I grew up loving labs and couldn’t have been more proud to live my years with this sweet girl by my side. My family ADORES her and I think she knows it. She loves swimming, walking and being out doors of course…! Sweet girl…”

Kitten cutie Dolly Parton has been adopted. We will always love you!

Loretta Lynn has been adopted. Looks like she’s no longer a coal miner’s daughter!

Wayne, or Lil Wayne, as he lovingly became known, was surrendered to SFACC. Staff tracked down Wayne’s original rescue and reached out to them to see if they would be in a position to take Wayne back. And fortunately, they were! Transport Coordinator Katy Jones arranged for volunteer drivers and pilots to bring Wayne across 1,300 miles to Colorado where he will have a second chance at a new home. Way to go Wayne (and Katy)!

Wayne’s Big Adventure

By Kathryn Jones
Adoption Partner Transfer Coordinator

A few weeks ago, we received a dog for surrender who originated from a rescue in Colorado. Typically, when a dog is surrendered to SFACC and comes from a rescue, that rescue will take their dog back. This is great because it allows us to use our resources on dogs that do not already have rescue placement.

Wayne, or Lil Wayne, as he lovingly became known, is a teenage herding dog mix who was having a hard time in the city. He needed to get back to where he came from–the Rocky Mountains! As the rescue coordinator, I tracked down Wayne’s original rescue and reached out to them to see if they would be in a position to take Wayne back. And fortunately, they were!

Now came the real challenge. How on earth do you get an anxious teenage working dog from San Francisco to Colorado? Wayne had about 1,300 miles to cover and that was a daunting prospect.

With the help of a crew of volunteer pilots, an SFACC transporter, and a volunteer driving on the receiving end, we made it happen. One of our fabulous transport volunteers, Chris, picked up Wayne from our shelter on Thursday morning and delivered him to the little airport in San Carlos. From there, Wayne flew to Elko, NV and then hopped aboard a different plane and flew to Salt Lake City, Utah. From Utah, a volunteer transporter drove Wayne back to his hometown of Brighton, Colorado.

This transport had a lot of moving parts and factors I had never previously had to worry about (wind!) that made it an interesting challenge. It was really inspiring to see how many people were willing to donate their time, skills, and resources in order to help a dog they’d never even met. And now Wayne is safely back where he belongs!

Leave the Nightlight On, Mom!

By Paula Benton, SFACC Behavior & Training

Teaching a child that she can fall asleep peacefully, alone in her room, is a well-known parenting process. But how do you teach a dog to feel comfortable when left alone?

Many canine welfare industry professionals suspect that as Covid restrictions start to lift and people begin to re-enter the workplace, pet dogs (many of them newly adopted during Covid) may experience separation-related problems. Only time will tell if this will happen. In preparation however, SFACC’s Behavior & Training department offers our top 12 favorite tips for pet owners who currently work from home and may soon need to leave their dog alone, perhaps for the first time in a year.

Separation-related problems for dogs cover a broad spectrum. Some dogs may experience a few minutes of intermittent, frustrated mild barking and then settle down peacefully for a nap. Others may exhibit full-blown medically diagnosed separation anxiety and present more serious panic behaviors, such as self harming, intense pacing, a need to escape to reunite with the owner, home destruction, and digging and chewing beyond natural puppy boredom. Many dogs fall somewhere in between.

Helping your dog feel more comfortable and secure when left alone can be a lot of fun—and not as hard as it sounds! The following simple tips can be used successfully right now in your home. These tips are designed to help prevent separation-related distress or problems. Please note they are not designed to modify existing extreme separation anxiety. If your dog is experiencing serious anxiety and panic, please see your veterinarian immediately and seek the assistance of a certified professional dog trainer.

1. Don’t Delay, Start Today! If you have not left your dog alone in quite some time, today is your day. Please understand that the longer you put off this valuable skill building, the harder it may be for you and your dog to succeed.

2. Have Patience! If you have recently moved or adopted a dog, it is reasonable that he or she will need time to transition to a new routine, home, neighborhood, or family. Mild separation-related problems will likely fade away within a few weeks.

3. Alone Time Is FUN Time! Teaching your dog to associate your departure with something she loves is key. There are many very successful learning tools you can use, such as mouth-watering food puzzles or fun hunt-and-seek games. You can research some of our favorites online, including: Nina Ottosson puzzles, stuffed frozen Kongs, Snuffle Mats, Hide-A-Squirrel plush toys, and interactive tumbler-type treat dispensers. An old stand-by is to sprinkle a generous handful of kibble throughout the room your dog will occupy, right before you leave your home. As she eventually catches on to this simple hide-and-seek game, tuck some kibble pieces in, under, and on top of things in the room to add difficulty. When offered consistently, any and all of these positive associations will have your dog nuzzling you out the door!

4. Ping Pong! Contrary to what you may have heard, take care not to make your departures longer and longer each time. You want to avoid accidently increasing your dog’s frustration or distress with predictably longer sessions. Instead, build in success by ping-ponging the length of time you are gone. For example: Today you might leave for 10 minutes in the afternoon; tomorrow, try 5 minutes in the morning and then 15 minutes in the evening.

5. Sounds Good! Leaving on talk radio or a chatty television channel like HSN or QVC can help mask outdoor sounds your dog may overreact to with excessive barking. White noise machines can also assist in muffling environmental sounds.

6. Eliminate Before You Vacate! Take your dog for a 15- or 30-minute relaxed neighborhood walk before you leave your dog alone. The opportunity to stretch his legs, and wee and pooh will surely add to his comfort. However, take care not to exercise him in high aerobic activities prior to your departure. This can keep his adrenaline higher than you want when he’s alone.

7. This Bed Is Just Right! We all know every dog has her own preferences regarding just about everything. As your dog’s personal “P.I.,” it’s your job to discover her alone-time location preference that provides comfort and security. Be observant. Is your dog most secure in a cozy den-like crate, lying on one of your tee shirts and chewing on a Benebone? Is she most comfortable loose in your living room, secured by baby gates, snoring on the couch? If your dog feels secure alone in your car because she has a 360-degree visual connection to the world, try positioning her near a home window before you leave. Find out what is just right for her.

8. Clear the Decks! In preparation for leaving your dog alone safely in a designated room, put yourself in his paws and scan the environment from his canine point of view. Remove any and all household items that may beckon him to chew, gnaw, or swallow. Taking just a few minutes to do this will avoid hindering his progress and encourage success instead.

9. Say No to No! If you return home to find your dog has had an accident or made a bit of a mess, do not punish your dog. Simply put, he will sense you are intensely unhappy but will not understand why. Punishing him creates confusion and frustration. Instead, while you tidy up, take careful note of the place where you left him. This can be invaluable when you are investigating his alone-time location preference.

10. Be a Good Neighbor! Contact your neighbors and let them know you are working with your dog to help him feel more confident and comfortable when left alone. Make them aware that they might hear some barking or whining, and ask if they will be participants in your training process. Give them your phone number and ask them to contact you directly if they hear excessive barking.

11. Don’t Leave Me This Way! Sometimes leaving our dogs is harder for us than for them. Take this into consideration. Make your departures as normal and easy-going as they would be if you didn’t have a dog. Try to avoid over-fussing, and just ignore your dog 5-10 minutes prior to your departure. The same rings true when re-entering your home. Your goal is to normalize this procedure for you and your dog.

12. I Spy! Ever wonder what your dog does when you are gone? Set up a video camera or mobile phone and record your dog’s behavior after you’ve departed. This will give you an accurate picture of what your dog looks and sounds like when alone, and valuable insight into what’s working for her and what’s not.

Preparing your dog for “life after Covid” by teaching him to rest and sleep confidently when alone is important to his overall health and well-being. Dogs, like young children, need a great deal of rest each day. The average young puppy requires approximately 16-20 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period; the average adult dog requires 12-14 hours. Try each of these 12 simple tips to help your dog have successful, restful time alone. And remember: Start today!

March 2021

In March, thanks in large part to the amazing work of Katy Jones, SFACC’s Animal Partner Transfer Coordinator, the shelter was able to transfer 182 animals (52 dogs, 42 cats, and 88 other species) to partner organizations. The shelter directly adopted 22 animals (7 dogs, 9 cats, and 6 other species).

Cocoa…A fluffy, adorable happy tale! My uncle says I’m basically a Dodo story but Mama says I’ve always been kyute! Mama and Daddy brought me home on May 4, 2019 and gave me a medicated bath every three days for about a month. They also added salmon oil to my food and now my coat and tail is super soft and fluffy. I’m the center of everything for my pawrents, as you can see in the photos. Every day, I plop on Mama to wake her and I get pets. My day consists of guarding the house and playing with all my puzzles and toys. Daddy says I’m spoiled but Mama says I’m deserving. I love my pawrents and it’s obvious they love me!” Her Instagram account is @inlovewitdacocoa

Sweet Steve has been adopted.

Hooray! Crawdad has found his forever home!

Here are the 2 happy rabbits we got from your present location around 1-1/2 years ago, we and they are grateful for all your work.

Big handsome senior boy Casper was found roaming in the street. When no one came to claim him, he went to our partner Lily’s Legacy Senior Dog Sanctuary.

Happy 10-year adoptaversary to Minnie Bee!

Handsome hunk Pogi came to us when his person could no longer take care of him. He has some medical problems that made him not suitable for adoption from us. Our partner BRAVE Rescue stepped up and now after a road trip he’s safely in their care. Yay Pogi!

Juniper came to SFACC with a bad case of demodex infection. Now in foster care with our partner Copper’s Dream Rescue she’s recovering and becoming more outgoing—she has even found her voice! She receives medicated baths every other day and is taking antibiotics for her skin infection. She also has a full wardrobe of pajamas and fancy sweaters while waiting for her hair to regrow.

Silly boy Phats needed a place where he can get lots of TLC. Our partner The Heart of Rescue came to the rescue and off Phats went on a road trip to his new foster home.

Coco was very nervous at the shelter and needed somewhere to decompress and gain confidence. Happily, our rescue partner Paddington Station Rescue was able to find her a foster home. After a road trip, Coco is ready to start her new beginning.

Emily Buldoc — Animal Care Attendant

Emily Bolduc came to SFACC with the intention of becoming a volunteer. With her background working at a local boarding facility, she was eager to lend her skills to the dogs and cats waiting for homes at the shelter. She never made it as a volunteer. During the orientation, she learned that ACC was hiring a part-time temporary animal care attendant (ACA) and applied for the job. She joined the staff in Dec. of 2019 and became a full-time permanent ACA in July of 2020. Animal care attendants carry out the cycle of an animal’s stay at SFACC: receiving the animal in the lobby; setting them up comfortably in a kennel, cage, or aquarium; providing enrichment (exercise and socialization); administering medicine as directed by the vet staff, and conducting virtual adoption meetings on zoom. ACAs play a critical role in the animal’s chance at a new life.

Back to Emily…growing up in Central Massachusetts, Emily’s family embraced a menagerie of animals: dogs, cats, mice lizards. When she went to college in Rochester to study biotechnology, her roommate had a lab/Rottweiler, Levi, who she helped care for in his twilight years. Emily bonded strongly with the dog and felt the deep responsibility of caring for an animal. The experience might have forged her path to helping animals.

After college, Emily and her boyfriend drove across the country to San Francisco, where her boyfriend was starting a new job. The experience of caring for her roommate’s dog still resonated with her and she took a job at Wag Hotel, where she worked for 6 years, first as an enrichment coordinator, supervising dog play groups, and eventually as a manager. That’s when she decided to head to SFACC to apply as a volunteer (the old location is across the street from WAG). Instead, she applied for the part-time position to cover for staff who were bringing kittens to the Macy’s Windows event (before the shelter-in-place shutdown). “It’s odd that most of my time at SFACC has been during the SIP.”

[caption id="attachment_5754" align="alignright" width="193"] Emily with a kitten she fostered.[/caption]

Emily notes that without volunteers in the building—though they are helping in other ways like fostering and driving transfers—the staff has the opportunity to do more enrichment with the animals directly. “We take the animals out of the kennels and work with them. It gives us the chance to see their personalities out of the kennel and to observe changes in their behavior that we can share with the Behavior and Training team. We can advocate and collaborate in this way, which sets an animal up for success.” As an example, Emily shares the case of King, a pit bull stray with a tendency to become overexcited. Working with techniques guided by B&T, Emily saw progress in King’s interactions with people, which she relayed to the B&T team. They continued to work with King and his interactions with people improved to the point where he was able to be transferred to a rescue partner and charmed his foster family so much, they adopted him.

One of her favorite things to do on the job is take animals out of the kennel and engage them for photo shoots. She likes to capture their personalities with the goal of getting them adopted into the right home. “Showing a dog having a great time in the yard or a cat playing with toys or lounging in a relaxed moment is so much truer to their character than a sad face sitting in a kennel.”

Like many shelter staffers, Emily has two rescues of her own at home. Both were strays in S.F. and are beloved family members: Rizzo, a sweet pit bull, and Pancho, the Chi. Both are middle-aged and sweet. Emily is also very fond of plants, a passion she learned from her grandmother. “I have about 50 houseplants right now, which is probably my biggest hobby at home, plus cooking and walking my dogs.”  During the pandemic, instead of making sour dough starter, Emily’s pet project became creating a plant aquarium. Then she decided to add beautiful red and white freshwater shrimp. “I started with about 10, and now I have around 50. They’re fun and colorful!”

When asked what has made an impression on her working at SFACC, Emily doesn’t hesitate, “Everyone here has such respect for all the animals that come in—whether it’s a pigeon, cat, dog—it doesn’t matter what the species or circumstance is. Every animal is treated with the same high level of care. And it’s not easy because different species have specific needs. We all try to meet those needs and set each animal up for success.”