August 2020

In August, the shelter found homes for 103 animals (80 cats, 10 dogs, and 13 small animals) through virtual adoptions (thank-you foster parents!). SFACC’s partner organizations took in another 299 animals (143 cats, 42 dogs, 114 small animals).
Here are some adoption stories and updates!

Sweet pup Raul has been adopted. Congratulations!

Handsome senior gent Little Fluff arrived at the shelter after his person died. After thoroughly charming our staff, he was adopted before we even posted him! His adopter sent in photos of him relaxing in his new home.

Beethoven was adopted about 2 years ago. His adopter reports “I wanted to send in some pictures to show how he’s doing. The first picture is a few days after I adopted him, and the other two are how he looks now! When I was told he was returned twice, I knew we had to keep him!
Hope you guys are well! And thanks again for letting me make him apart of my family!”

Bunsen (was Boo) came into the shelter as a teeny pup with his mom and siblings and was adopted last month. “Bunsen (formally Boo) is doing really well! He loves belly rubs, chasing balls, and is very cuddly. We are anxious to get his final shots in a couple of weeks so he can get out and explore the world. I’ve taken him to a couple of puppy play groups and he is super social. He is also very brave and confident with bigger dogs. He is really behaved and has already learned sit, shake, lay down, etc. We love him so much!”

Happy 5-year adopta-versary to Isabelle! Her adopter says “Here is my beloved and cherished girl Isabelle celebrating her 5-year adopta-versary from SF ACC in July. We love You guys and are very grateful for the wonderful care u gave her while she was in your care. Isabelle is enjoying her life, her healthy homemade diet, back massages, nearby park and a rather extensive wardrobe of shirts, sweaters, dresses and tutu skirts. She is the best girl, a kitty worshipper and a wonderful California Assistance Dog. So smart, kind and loving. I cannot imagine my life without her.
We are me looking forward to many many more happy years together”

Cutie pie Stumpy McGee was adopted last month and we already got an update! He’s settling into his new home, enjoying trips to the park, lounging on comfy dog beds and supervising work at home.

Matias was adopted recently and he and his new brother are already starting to be furriends!! His brother Grayson was adopted from a cat cafe in Portland.

Nemo adopted!

Scruffimuffin Lentil has been adopted. Her new name is Muffet; here she is on her “tuffet” in her new home!

Sushi was adopted as a puppy in 2018 and has grown up to be a big handsome adventure dog! He loves exploring, boating, and posing like a super model.

Clever SFACC alumna Claire has found an exciting way to experience nature: bird videos!

Gorgeous house panther Carmen was adopted earlier this month, and we already have an update: “We wanted to let you know that Kokoro (formerly Carmen) is adjusting well to family life. She has supervised visits with her canine sister and intros are going really well. She’s a wonderful little chatterbox and loves to sit in the window overlooking the yard.”

Pretty Plum has found her forever home!

Sylvester the parakeet was recently adopted and is doing great in his new home! His adopter made this great portrait of him and his beloved disco ball!

Former foster Libby is now named Bagheera, the little panther: “she is doing fantastic, an incredibly smart cat, super playful and always looking for our company wherever we are in the house.”

Dinnertime for five guinea pig cuties, all ACC alumni! Belle, Black Ears (now Bea), and Sandy (all three adopted together in July) with former ACC adoptions, Adilita (brown; adopted 2016) and Luna (crazy haired gray and white, adopted 2018) are one happy family now and enjoying each other’s company.

Bubbles was one of our early virtual adoptions. Her adopters share: “I just wanted to take a moment to thank you again for bringing miss Bubbles into our lives. Today marks two months since we picked her up from you! She has really settled it in well. I’m learning more about her every day. She is still nervous sometimes but trusts Alex and I and we are enjoying new routines and rituals. I’ve attached some photos of our girl. Thank you for bringing this love into our home. We love this little goon.”

A belated adopt-a-versary over here, but just dropping a note to send you pics of the former Bramble Pie – today known as Lorraine “Lolo” Hansberry – living her best life and bringing energy and big joie de vivre to our lives.  She’s a regular circus trick dog, with many awesome things in her repertoire. She loves to jump through hula hoops, sit in boxes, hunt for squeaky toys and climb all things, including the occasional window that she should really stay out of. She loves to learn new things and is a training maniac. 
Thank you so much for bringing her into our lives,
AJ, Christine and Lolo


Ferris and his new family.



Shaka’s Story – It Took a Village

By Lauren Taylor
Behavior & Training Dept., SFACC

Shaka came to the shelter on a custody hold after his loving owner was hospitalized in February of 2020. He was understandably anxious but friendly and enjoyed interacting with staff and volunteers. After nearly a month-long stay we learned that Shaka’s owner was still in the hospital and about to undergo a serious procedure. He would not be released for an extended but unpredictable amount of time as he received rehabilitative services, but desperately wanted to keep his dog. Staff at both the shelter and the hospital advocated for the pair and we devised a plan to keep them together.

Behavior staff noted that Shaka’s anxiety was escalating in the shelter and that it would be in his best interest to move to a foster home while his owner recovered. One of our incredible foster parents stepped forward and was willing to do everything needed to keep Shaka healthy and comfortable until his owner was released from the hospital.

Shaka’s story didn’t end there. After nearly a month and a half in foster care, his owner reluctantly decided he was no longer in a position to care for a dog due to his personal health and surrendered him to the shelter. Luckily, our Behavior team had worked closely with Shaka’s foster parents, gathered valuable information about his behavior, and determined he was a wonderful adoption candidate.

Shortly after becoming available for adoption in late April, Shaka hit the jackpot with a pair of great adopters who were excited to welcome him into their home. Shaka’s adopters happened to be friends with one of our dog volunteers and we recently received some adorable pictures of him on a camping trip. The expression “it takes a village” rang true for Shaka and we thank everyone involved in helping this sweet boy get to his happy place.

ACA James Purcell Assists Evacuated Animals in Solano County

SFACC Animal Care Attendant James Purcell, with a buddy.

First let me say what an August! For me personally and for the California fire season.

The month started out for me on a National Outdoor Leadership School alumni course. One of three they ran this summer under the new Covid-19 protocols. It was a well instructed leadership course, with fun classes added to the amazing class room setting in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. We wore masks the whole time and had daily detailed health checks.

As I returned to my usual work as an Animal Care Attendant at SFACC, I began thinking about how this summer’s NOLS course prepared me for so many possible futures. I have also taken a Wilderness First Responder course through NOLS in the Marin headlands that provided training in basic skills for several emergency situations. I believe in being prepared for unforeseen crises, and am constantly seeking to further my knowledge and experience in assisting during such events.

On Tuesday night I watched the news about the local fires and prepared for my next day at work. Still only half unpacked from my NOLS course four days earlier, I repacked instead. As I would find out the next afternoon, it was a good choice.

Around 1600 hour (4pm), as I was preparing to go home for the evening, I got a call from Ariana Luchsinger (SFACC operations manager) and John Skeel (SFACC deputy director) about a deployment to Solano County. They had requested an animal care person with large animal experience. Before I knew it, I was home loading my gear and getting my house affairs settled. Not long after, I was heading North to the Vallejo County Fairgrounds to work at the large animal shelter.

I started life as a rural farm-child in Southeastern Ohio, and began my animal career with the Cincinnati Zoo Academy. From there I spent thirteen years with the Denver Zoo as a part of their animal staff division and emergency response team. I have had previous emergency deployment experience helping Hurricane Katrina animals transfer into Colorado through the Denver Dumb Friends League. I have previously been activated three times in my role as a SFGOV Disaster Service Worker (DSW). Twice during the Camp Fires, where I acted in both assisting and leadership roles, and once during the St. Mary’s event to set up and manage operations at the emergency shelter-with-pet. With these experiences under my belt I was ready to help! …I met my contact at 1800 hours and it was on!

As an SFGOV DSW employee, I did not have to be sworn in. So, Mark with Solano County Animal Control was able to put me right to work. There were animals arriving in trailers, animals wanting feed, and lots of volunteers in need of direction. Like a well-oiled machine Mark and I started getting all of our ducks in a row. Or goats in this case.

He had to step away once the Solano County Lieutenant showed up to swear in our volunteers. I set off to do feeding and the animal counts. Next thing I know it is 0300 hours (3am) and I got to nap. Ya!!

At 0500 hours it was on again! Morning rounds, volunteers showing up to help, and trucks unloading animals in need of care and shelter. We got goats, cows, llama, alpaca, chickens, ducks and horses. It was a fast, nonstop day lasting well into the night.

A little after 2100 hours (9pm) I was relieved and told to get some rest. I set up my cot in the barn and told my relief if anything comes in or up, just wake me; I am around corner. Five whole hours of sleep. It was so nice to wake to the sounds of the barn and the animals around me. Maybe not the two roosters. But they did tell me to get up and feed some of their neighbors. So that was just what I did.

At 0700 after morning rounds there was a debriefing. Then sending volunteers out to their daily husbandry assignments. So many goats to clean and feed…



A large-animal vet came to look at our animals. The personalized plates on the farm-ready truck he drove said: MOOVET. This guy was cool, if ever cool was. He checked out the horses and the cows.But the day before, we had a herd of alpaca come in. All of them had a cough from smoke inhalation and a few had started to self-isolate due to burns. So we knew that was the project at hand. After lots of amazing animal handling, top-notch triage care was given. We got them off to Davis for the veterinary care we could not provide at our emergency shelter.

As the day went on, more trucks arrived but we had figured out a much more effective way to transfer the animals from trailer to pen. Easier on the animals and the staff—who I have not mentioned as much as I should. In this sort of event, the best in humans is revealed. The way the communities of California come together in crises like this really shows why we are the Golden State. As a team of strangers, we worked together for each other, giving the best we had to those we came to help all we could.

The volunteers even more so. Many had hours of training for just this kind of event, so they could offer the best of themselves. They brought food, gifts and hearts full of giving as well as trailers, knowledge, and experience. All of which was so greatly needed.

I don’t know how else to describe it–a whirlwind of a little over two days. So much to do and so much done. So many hours in a day. All I saw for the few days I was activated as an SFGOV DSW in Solano County was the best of care in every aspect.

I recommend everyone have a Ready Plan. Practice it. Know in a real emergency event that things will probably not go as planned. But it is better to be prepared and improvise if needed, then not to be prepared at all.

So elbow bumps and stay safe.

Dr. Lani Weiman – SFACC Veterinarian

Getting to know SFACC’s newest veterinarian, Dr. Lani Weiman…

Where did you grow up and how did you come to work at SFACC?
I was born in Taiwan and lived there for 11 years before moving to California. Growing up in Taipei, I saw numerous stray cats and dogs who were mistreated, had nowhere to go, and had no one to care for them. So, at an early age I decided to become a veterinarian to help animals. After graduating from college and working in pharmaceutical research for a few years, I went back to school for my veterinary degree. I then worked in general practice in San Francisco for several years before transitioning to shelter medicine.

What do you do at SFACC and for how long?
I started working at SFACC at the end of February 2020. As a shelter veterinarian, I maintain the health of the animals in the shelter and in foster by performing physical exams, as well as diagnose and manage their medical conditions. I perform routine and some emergency surgeries, and occasionally assist the Animal Control Officers with investigations.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I find working at SFACC highly rewarding. I enjoy making animals feel better, and I like seeing animals without a home move toward their forever home.

Do you have pets of your own?
What do you do when not at work (hobbies, interests)?
Right now, I have four pets. Kea, a 13 1/2-year-old Shiba Inu; Bristol, a 13-year-old cat; Kitten, a 6-year-old cat; and Romeo, an 8-year-old cat.

What do you do when you’re not at work?
I used to travel quite a bit but now I have two human children who keep me too busy for hobbies and interests.

What is the most memorable case you’ve encountered at the shelter?
Every animal who enters the ACC is special and memorable in his or her own way. The cases that are most memorable to me are difficult medical cases where we take a chance on an animal and they have a positive outcome; and there have been many such cases for me.

What impression has SFACC made so far?
I am most impressed by the dedication of the entire shelter staff, volunteers, and our hard-working foster parents. It takes a village to bring even one animal from admission to the shelter to adoption into their forever homes or transfer to a rescue/partner organization. The wonder team at SFACC makes these small miracles happen every day.

Any other comments about your experience at the shelter?
The wildlife, exotic animals, and pocket pets have been a learning experience for me! Prior to working at the SFACC, I worked exclusively in small animal (dog and cat) medicine, so being around the many animal species at the shelter has been both fun and educational.

Heading Back to Work? Prep Your Pet

Dog looking out a window.
(photo c. Embark)

For the past several months, pets of folks who are working at home during the shelter-in-place have enjoyed the extra attention and company. As people return to work, even part-time, some pets might experience separation anxiety. The American Veterinary Medical Association has a few tips to minimize the stress of this change:

  • Start slowly introducing your pet to a workday routine. Get your pet accustomed to new wake, feeding, and walking times.
  • Practice leaving the house and your pet. Start out leaving for short periods and then gradually extend the time.
  • As you leave, give your pet a small treat to help create positive connections to your leaving.
  • If you see signs of anxiety—such as destructive activity—do not punish your pet. Instead, shorten the time you are away and slowly build up to longer periods. Stay calm when leaving or returning home.
  • Before leaving, engage in play and activity. Burning energy can help keep pets calm and relaxed.
  • If you’re planning on using a pet sitter, dog walker or pet daycare, be cautious. Exposing your pet to others can increase your pet’s and your own risk to COVID-19. Follow protocols put into place by the daycare and do not use the service if you or your pets are sick. Keep cats indoors. Do not put face coverings on pets and do not wipe or bathe your pet with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or any other products not approved for animal use.
  • Dog parks are starting to reopen, but you want to maintain, as best you can, a safe distance between your pet and others. Don’t allow people you don’t know to pet your dog and you shouldn’t pet theirs.
  • Keep your pet occupied during your absence with long-lasting treats, food puzzles and automatic feeders.
  • If you typically used a crate when you were gone but haven’t been using it during the shelter-in-place, now is a good time to explore your options. You can decide to do away with the crate or if you plan to use it, start doing so now, while you’re still at home, putting the dog inside for short periods and giving them rewards. Dogs should not be left in crates for extended periods of time.
  • Look for signs of stress, such as excessive barking or whining, agitation, destructive behavior and inappropriate urination or defecation. Consider setting up a camera so you can see how your pet is doing while you’re gone. You also can then show the behavior to a veterinarian, who can help you figure things out.