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.

Fostering Aria

By Dawn Horrell

SFACC first came into my life when I had to surrender my grandpa’s cat, Pat, almost 15 years ago. It was a heart wrenching life event, but I had a senior cat at home with her own health problems and just couldn’t keep poor Pat. Luckily Pat was soon adopted and I was forever indebted to SFACC. Years later when it was time to get another cat, a friend and SFACC volunteer, accompanied me to the shelter where I found Marshmallow─quite possibly the best cat in the world (do we all think that about our cats?). Sadly, Marshmallow died just a few years later from cancer─she wasn’t even seven years old. It was heartbreaking and months later I still miss her more than I can express with words.

When I saw that SFACC needed foster volunteers during Shelter in Place, I knew I had to help. Although I’m still not quite ready for another full-time cat, I knew I’d be able to foster. How could I turn my back on the organization that so kindly took in Pat and helped me find Marshmallow! Through a Facebook post, I went to the site and signed up. I figured that I’d never get a call… there must be hundreds of people reaching out to help. I guess I was wrong because the shelter emailed me just a week or so later.

That’s when Aria came into my life. Her owner had to surrender her due to health issues. A situation that was very similar to how Pat and Marshmallow ended up at the same shelter─I knew it was fate. Aria is 11 and, I’m guessing, lived in her last home her entire life. She wasn’t doing well at the shelter and had a hard time acclimating. I was more than happy to bring her into my tiny apartment where I live alone; nice and quiet for a shy older lady. Although my apartment is so small that I don’t have any rooms that have doors that properly shut (yep, even the bathroom) I made sure I had plenty of hiding places for her in closets and under the bed where she could feel safe. Her favorite hiding place, however, was under my down blanket on my bed. I joked that it was her “job”─she’d climb up under the covers at around 9am and not leave until after 6pm; this happened Sunday through Saturday. She is a real workaholic! Every few hours I’d climb under the covers with her to give her some pets and receive some purrs for myself. She was warm and cozy and I loved cuddling with her under the fluffy blanket.

She stayed with me for just under a month. During that entire month she “worked” every day and would come out at night to hang out with me in the living room to watch some TV. She’d cuddle up right next to me and purr. I loved it. We’d also spend a little time playing. She was pretty lazy, but was really good at her version of the “Sit and Be Fit” workout where she’d lay on the floor and just bat at her feather toy ─not actually getting up or moving─just swinging her little arm and paw around trying to catch the feathers. The one game we would play that got her to move a little was Catch the Treat. I’d throw a treat and she’d sorta run/walk to catch it. It was a little counterproductive, but at least she got some steps in.

When the virtual adoptions opened up I was torn. “Do I adopt her?  Do I adopt her?” Every day, all day, it was all I thought about. However, a potential adopter surfaced after only a couple of days. We spoke on the phone and she told me about her love of cats and her need for a special little friend, and I immediately knew that Aria had a new home. I’m not going to lie and say it was easy, because it wasn’t. I was growing very fond of my little, senior cat, but I also knew that Aria’s new owner was ready for the love Aria could give her. I gave Aria lots of snuggles, hugs, and kisses during that last night and day. Knowing that she is safe in her forever home where she can live out a comfy retirement was all I needed to feel better. Let’s just hope she stops working so hard!

Shy Poppy Blossoms

By Diane Wright

We found our Pomeranian behind a bush while house sitting for some friends years ago. She was eight months old and weighed five pounds. We located her owner, who told us the dog had been gone for two nights. A friend had given the dog to her as a gift and she never really wanted the responsibility. Long story short, she gave her to us. We named her Holly and she brought us such joy.  We were consumed with sadness when we lost her at age 16.  Six months later our depression still dominated our everyday lives. That’s when I said “That’s it, we have to get another dog.” My husband, Michael, agreed but it was late November and he thought we should wait until after the holidays. I wanted to respect his feelings, HOWEVER, I decided to look on the SFSPCA website and saw a very sweet looking dog, female and 6 years old. Perfect.

In a few days we needed to go downtown. Before driving home, I said “You know, we’re not too far from the SFSPCA.  We could make a quick stop just look at that little dog.”   Michael said, “But remember, we plan to wait until the holidays are over.”  “Sure, of course.” I said. We saw her leaning on the back wall of the glass-viewing room. Although she had two roommates who were playing, she not only kept her distance but stayed about as far away as possible from them, her head down. We asked for a visit and were put in the “ring” to wait for her. We sat on the floor and she came over, although being a bit shy and cautious. After about 15 minutes Michael looked at her then to me and said “I think we should take her.”  We both knew she was our dog.

When at the adoption desk we were told she was very shy. The woman looked at the remarks that the volunteers write after walking a dog.  She read several and each one mentioned her shyness and that she didn’t interact much. We were given information about shy dogs to take home.  I sat in the backseat with her on our way home. We drove into the garage then open the door our back yard.  She actually stood at the doorway for a little bit taking it all in, as if she was thinking “Is this for me?”  She went up to the deck, then down to the patio and across the lawn, then back to us and we went inside.

We were advised to shut the doors to each room in the house and open them one at a time for her.  We forgot to do that.  But she calmly walked into each room, then came down to the living room where we stood waiting.  She walked over to the couch, jumped on, looked at us and said…” I’ll take it.” We never saw her shyness again.  She has her favorite toys, loves to run on the beach, gets lots of good walks to many different places, and loves to sit as close to us as she can when we are on the couch.

Several months after adopting Poppy we went to San Francisco Animal Care & Control to inquire about her background. Animal Care Officers had responded to the initial rescue call and brought her to the shelter.  We were told she was left on a MUNI bus in S.F.  At the end of the line all drivers must do a walk-through, and the driver found her alone with no collar and called SFACC. They discovered she had a chip and tried several times to reach the registered owner but there was no response. Then SPCA took her to their adoption center.

She didn’t look abused and is very well trained (sit, etc.).  We feel she was with someone who loved her and who’s life must have taken a big turn.  I hope, somehow, he or she knows that Poppy is happy. She is and so are we.

Many thanks to the AC&C and the SPCA.  We are blessed to have them.

Editor’s Note: The SFSPCA and SFACC are adoption partners and in an agreement made in 1994, the SFSPCA guarantees that it will take any adoptable dog or cat rescued in SF and hold it until it can adopt the animal into a suitable home. Read the agreement on SFACC’s website: https://www.sfanimalcare.org/about-us/agreement-sfspca-acc/

Poppy

Poppy after her recovery
Poppy after her recovery

On a cold day in January, ACC dispatch received a call from a concerned citizen who noticed a bleeding puppy tethered to a scooter in the SF SOMA neighborhood. When officers arrived they found the man who had reported the puppy crying because he was so upset about the situation. The puppy was between parked cars partway down a filthy alleyway, tethered to a scooter and sitting in a pool of her own blood. She was lethargic but as the officers approached she stood up and started wagging her entire body. She curled into an officer’s arms as she was picked up and placed into an ACC van.
The puppy was taken to the emergency vet where she was given a poor prognosis. Parvo Virus was strongly suspected though she tested negative upon intake. She was weak, with little interest in food, and had ongoing vomiting and diarrhea. She received intensive care and was retested. A second test also came back negative though her condition was worsening; then suddenly, she bounced back!
Poppy made an amazing recovery and was made available for adoption. She was trained by volunteers in basic manners , socialized to people and dogs, and received lots of love from staff and volunteers.
Dogs like Poppy can require care beyond that which the City budget is able to provide. Thanks to Friends of Animal Care & Control’s Emergency Medical Fund, ACC was able to get Poppy the treatment she needed and she was adopted into a loving home.

[Poppy (left) playing with her buddy Bo at ACC Poppy (left) playing with her buddy Bo at SFACC

Bruno—an ACC/Pet Camp Partnership

Bruno with Pet Camp staff

Bruno came to ACC with an injured leg—he’d been hit by a car twice—and through funding by Friends of SFACC, received surgery to repair it. However, the post-operative rehab he needed could not be provided by ACC resources. So Pet Camp, a San Francisco pet daycare and staycare facility,  rehabilitated (physically and socially) Bruno over a period of seven weeks staff embraced the challenge of giving him physical therapy (three times a day and a swim in a special therapy pool every other day) and lots of love. Shy, gentle Bruno came out of his shell and became a social butterfly who enjoys playtimes with other dogs, is compatible with cats, and has been given a 100% clean bill of health by the vet.
Bruno became a Pet Camp favorite camper over his seven-week stay. The Pet Camp staff not only loved and rehabilitated Bruno, they blogged about him on the Pet Camp website, showing his weekly progress and sharing his story through social media—creating adoption interest through this effort. He will be missed by his entourage at Pet Camp but they’re happy to have helped him on his way to his forever home.
The partnership between ACC and Pet Camp was made possible by a service-trade sponsorship through Friends of SFACC. Friends of SFACC offers sponsorship benefits each year at Pet Pride Day, usually in exchange for monetary payment but in this case, Pet Camp gave ACC their services, a very practical way to donate. Thank you Pet Camp for going above and beyond to help Bruno become the happy, healthy dog he is today.
Bruno was adopted by Christophter Cendak, who gave ACC an update the day after bringing him home:  “One day in the books and Bruno has settled in nicely. His sister, Stitch, is excited to have him around. We are so happy to have him in our pack. Everyone at the ACC was so nice and helpful. Thanks!!!”

Bruno with his new dad