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East Bay SPCA Home
The East Bay SPCA saves 
     and improves the lives of cats and dogs and connects
     people and pets in our community.











What is No Kill 
Shelter Life Blog 
Contact Us 
Annual Reports 

Welcome to Shelter Life at the East Bay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

We began as the Oakland SPCA in 1874. Today, the East Bay SPCA includes two animal shelters and three clinics in our community.

This is our day.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Our Trick or Treat event was a “howling” good time!

This year we hosted a Halloween event at both of our locations in Oakland and Dublin. Our “Howl-oween” festival aimed to provide a safe, fun and educational experience for all trick or treaters!

We kicked off our event with a ten question scavenger hunt, where children and families had to navigate through the shelter to find clues and answer questions. Each question was educational; all questions related to basic animal care or fun animal facts! At various of the scavenger stations we even had some of our shelter animals help give clues and demonstrate answers. We also had two bunny stations, where children could pet bunnies and learn about rabbit care. After participants answered the question they received a piece of candy and travelled to the next scavenger hunt table. Here is a small sample of some of our fun fact-filled questions:

What is the difference between a bunny and a rabbit?

What are 3 things that pets need?

Cats should drink milk, True or False?

After the scavenger hunt, participants had the opportunity to participate in our wickedly fun Halloween games and arts and crafts. Some of these include playing musical tombstones, pin the nose on the pumpkin, hot pumpkin as well as making popcorn hands and lollypop spiders.

A very special thanks to all of our Halloween volunteers; we could not have run the event without all of your enthusiasm and dedication. Thanks for helping foster a safe and exciting Halloween environment for all to enjoy. And, best of all, thanks for joining us in spirit and wearing your Halloween costume!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Busy Day in Tri-Valley today!

I love seeing Club Second Chance animals go to good homes. We adopted 2 CSC cats as well as 5 other adult cats, 2 kittens, 1 CSC dog and 2 puppies. All this chaos while also hosting our monthly Rabbit event and being short one staff member. The staff (and volunteers!) worked hard and deserve a nice pat on the back and a big thank you.

Happy Tails to:

Domestic Short Hair
5 Years
Domestic Medium  Hair
7 Years
Domestic Short Hair
Brown Tabby
5 1/2 Years
Domestic Short Hair
Brown Tabby
8-9 Years
Domestic Short Hair
4-5 Years
Domestic Short Hair
Brown Tabby
2 Years
Domestic Medium  Hair
5 Months


6-7 Years


Domestic Longhair
Orange Tabby
3 Months
Domestic Short Hair
Grey Tabby
2 Months


American Eskimo /  Poodle Miniature
2 Months
American Eskimo /  Poodle Miniature
2 Months
Grand Total:
12 Adoptions!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


The Oakland Housing Authority and the SPCA collaborate in the first of a kind partnership.

Oakland Housing Authority came to the SPCA in the spring, 2009, with a proposal. A nationally known model for a public housing authority with a mission to assure the availability of quality housing for low income persons, OHA is fully aware of the significant values animal companions have for people, and allows pets under 25 pounds in all of their units. Because of their pet friendly policy OHA approached the SPCA and asked for help in supporting the relationships of tenants and their pets. OHA provides 3,308 public housing units on 268 sites, 1,386 units at large developments, 1,615 units at scattered sites, and 307 units in mixed-finance partnerships, and 11, 142 section 8 leased housing units (rental assistance to private owners). Undeniably, a vast number or tenants and their pets will benefit from this project.

Several meetings with management from both groups took place to discuss how to best create a comprehensive, accessible program. A decision was made to begin by providing information, training and resources to OHA staff, as they are often the first ones to become aware of the need for pet support and education.

The first of three trainings was held on September 18, 2009. Most of the participants present were OHA maintenance and grounds employees. Some of the topics addressed included dog and cat myths verses facts, understanding cultural differences among training, pit bull education, bite prevention, ferals or strays, basic animal care, animal cruelty, abandonment or neglect, and available resources.

I had the pleasure of bringing one of our SPCA furry friends, Greta, a lovable pit bull to the training. She was a hit with most everyone, although there was one of two exceptions. (For the second training, one week later, I brought Chili, a small Chihuahua mix who sat in my lap as relaxed as the Buddha and charmed every last participant. Attendees at this training were OHA housing managers.)

The information was received with great interest and generated energetic participation. Incidents with pets, both negative and positive were shared and problem solving discussed. A lively question and answer period took place at the end of the training, along with an evaluation form for the participants to fill out.

Feedback was unanimous. Great project!

I agree! As an SPCA volunteer I can't wait to get more involved with this project. The next step will be offering training directly to the tenants. I'll keep you updated and informed so look for the next installment in a future bog.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Animal Camp: A Huge Success!

We just completed our second year of Animal Camp and what a successful summer! Not only did the animals enjoy having so much attention from all the little visitors, but the campers also enjoyed interacting with the animals. When asked about their favorite part of camp, most of kids said "visiting with the cats!"

Campers participated in a variety of animal activities this summer. For example, campers made animal advertisements which we were able to hang up around the shelter in order to help with promotion of all the shelter guests. Some of our campers had the opportunity to learn about horses through a meet and greet where they were able to brush and feed a horse! A rabbit rescue group visited camp a number of times to teach about the care and needs of keeping a rabbit as a pet, but of course the best part was when everyone sat in a circle on the floor and the rabbits were able to hop around and visit. At our 6-8 grade camp we had a number of outstanding speakers, and all of the campers gave rave reviews of their presentations and at the opportunity to learn more about working with animals professionally in the future.

The 1-3 grade camp fostered animals for the week, plush animals that is. We treated
them as if they were real pets all week long. Campers were responsible for complete care of the pet including walking their animals, administering medications and gathering all the necessary supplies for each pet. Many parents use our camp as a resource to help prepare their children for the responsibility of caring for a real pet one day, which brings me to the story of Caty.

Caty joined us for the first time last summer and has participated in multiple of our programs since, including Animal Camp in July. Caty has been a joy to teach and always sends us a thank you card in the mail after she attends camp- how sweet is that? Every time I see her she tells me how she longs to have a pet but that her parents keep telling her she is not quite ready. And how although she really wanted a dog any pet would do since she did not have any animals in her home. I was elated for Caty when her mom mentioned to me on the last day of camp that they would soon be looking for a dog. Caty's mom and dad brought her to our annual Adopt-a-thon so that Caty could look for a dog, a real live dog of her very own! I was even more pleased to receive an e-mail from Caty's mom letting me know that she was able to rescue a wonderful dog from the event that day, Roxy a small terrier mix. Roxy and Caty seem to be a perfect match and I am so glad we were able to help Caty prepare to adopt a dog of her own as I know she will be a stellar pet parent. Congratulations Caty and family!

Here are a few notes from other Animal Camp parents:

"Emily and Megan had a great time at camp and are already looking forward to the next camp!"

"My daughter Audrey attended many camps this summer including Vacation Bible School, Club Sport Sports camp, and your SPCA camp. SPCA camp was by far her favorite. Your caring staff, and your curriculum provide a perfect blend of fun and education for children. Audrey learned more about pet responsibility but I think the primary difference is the respect and care with which you treat your students. Thank you so much and we look forward to attending for our third year next year!"

"My daughter, Annika, had a fantastic time last week at your camp. In the past, we had only heard great things about it and now we know for ourselves…yes…we plan to sign up again next year! We’ve been telling others about it, too. Hopefully, there will be room for us next year! Thank you for such a wonderfully informative and interesting program."

"Thank you to you, Michael and Sierra, my daughter (Kathryn) had a wonderful week.
I asked her if there was anything she would like to see done differently - she said no. As a parent I appreciated the education factor and the kitty cat toy crafts. I feel Kate came home with a better understanding of community - and how pets are a part of our families and community. I like that you gave them the opportunity to view a spay/neuter operation - and although Kate opted out - she still came home with a better understanding and brought home fabulous questions."

So as you can see our Animal Camp success can be measured in many different ways. From the children we educated and inspired, to the animals who found homes with a few of our campers and their families; it was all a success and we look forward to doing it again this winter!

For more information on Animal Camp or to check out our other education programs visit the education page on our website.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Help is on the way

Have you ever visited Mexico and wondered if there is any hope for the street dogs, the feral cats, and the generally unthrifty animals you see lurking on every street corner? There is. Several organizations, mostly grass-roots efforts, are popping up to bring medical care to disadvantaged animals. The Humane Society of the United States is at the forefront of this movement with its Rural Area Veterinary Services (RAVS). RAVS delivers mobile veterinary services – examinations, vaccinations, and spay/neuter surgeries – to underserved rural communities throughout North and South America.

In late July I spent a week as a RAVS volunteer on the Colville Indian Reservation in Northeast Washington. Our group was led by 3 experienced HSUS veterinarians and several support staff. The rest of the team -- 30 veterinary students, 6 veterinarians, and 6 animal care technicians – were volunteers. We assembled in a Super 8 Motel next to the Spokane airport on a Friday morning. In our own cars and carpools, we became a caravan, following the RAVS rig, a fifth-wheel carrying a complete veterinary clinic packed into small boxes. The landscape changed from wheat fields into high desert, and finally into pine forest as we drove all day, finally crossing the Columbia River and entering the Colville Indian Reservation. By Saturday at 6am, we had unpacked hundreds of boxes and turned a community center gymnasium into a fully functioning vet clinic.

Comprised of twelve separate tribes, the Colville Reservation is home to about 7500 Native Americans. The community has fallen on hard times lately, as the logging industry is in decline and the mills which employ most of the Colville are closing. We met a number of people who were living on the brink, often having to choose between feeding their pets or feeding their families. Needless to say they were ecstatic to be provided with completely free veterinary care and lined up each day outside each of our three clinics.

RAVS’ primary goal is to provide high-quality animal care for communities isolated by poverty and geography. They have a secondary goal though, which is to provide veterinary students with hand-on clinical experience. Under the watchful eyes of the volunteer veterinarians, students perform physical examinations, medical treatments, and even spay and neuter surgeries. (Even the EBSPCA’s own Dr. Barb Jones volunteered as a student at RAVS clinics!) I was impressed by the preparation and motivation of these dedicated students. Their enthusiasm for veterinary medicine and their willingness to work long hours was impressive. And work we did. The entire clinic, which filled a gymnasium, had to be packed up and moved three times during the course of the week. Setting up the clinic once we had arrived at our destination often took hours. No hotels on the reservation meant sleeping on community center floors, and grabbing food when possible -- without the luxury of hot showers or hot coffee!

In addition to spaying and neutering over 250 animals, we managed to change some lives along the way. Teddy Bear was a 9-month old Golden who had been hit by a car several weeks earlier, and came to our clinic with a shattered pelvis, flesh wounds, and a severely fractured rear leg. He had been living in the back of a pickup truck, as his owners were homeless and unable to afford having Teddy seen by one of the few veterinarians on the reservation. After examining Teddy, the lead veterinarian decided that the hind limb would need to be amputated. Unfortunately, because of his aftercare and rehabilitation, Teddy’s owners decided they would not be able to keep him, and surrendered him to our care. The volunteer veterinarian who was assigned to Teddy ended up falling in love with him and adopting him at the end of the trip. As an added bonus – she even has a friend who is getting certified in canine rehabilitation, who will be able to help Teddy adjust to living on 3 legs.

I’m not sure I have the energy to go on another RAVS trip in the near future. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be to pull the whole thing together in South America, with even more challenges. It really makes me appreciate our EBSPCA clinics, where the patients come to us. We also have the luxury of numerous and animal welfare organizations and veterinarians here in the Bay Area. For those that aren’t as fortunate as us, it’s nice to know there’s a group of animal lovers driving around in a caravan, getting to where they are needed.

Teddy and his new person

Friday, July 24, 2009

Update on New Humane Advocate

The mission of the East Bay SPCA is clear – prevent cruelty to animals and save lives. Too frequently we see the end result of neglect or cruelty, far past the time that would have been reasonable to intervene. As a consequence, the animals have paid a terrible price. This is unacceptable to us.

This is why we created the new position of Humane Advocate and asked for special contributions to fund the position. Because you are a generous supporter of the East Bay SPCA, I want to tell you this initiative has been met with immediate success and to share with you this interim report.

We believe that most cruelty and neglect is unintentional, due largely to lack of education. Intervention at an early stage can greatly improve the lives of animals, and of their owners. Our Humane Advocate is truly a social worker for both people and animals, and we are now coming into the community offering support, education and compassion.

Oakland Animal Control as you may know is a division of the Oakland Police Department. Oakland Animal Control has been for a long time staffed by dedicated professionals who work tirelessly to respond to complaints of animal cruelty, abandonment and worse. With the city budget in a record deficit, and the animal control division already understaffed, increasing staffing levels is not an option. Add to that an economic downturn that is being compared to the Great Depression and we can honestly say it is a horrible time to be a pet. Animals ending up in shelters have increased tremendously since 2007 – the first time this number has increased in six years.

With so much stacked against pets, pet owners and city funded animal control, it was time for us to step up. Before sending our Humane Advocate into the field, we met with the acting Deputy Police Chief. He welcomed our proposal with enthusiasm. To ensure solid teamwork between our new Humane Advocate and our peer Animal Control officers, our staff will now be included in weekly police/animal control meetings and debriefs. Cases will be referred to us from them, and similarly, cases coming directly to us would be communicated with them.

Our Humane Advocate hit the ground running. An experienced animal control officer from another city, she headed straight into the community and got to work.

One of her first cases came by way of a Good Samaritan who brought in an injured stray dog. After paying for his care, she asked if we could come into her community and educate her neighbors – most of whom had free-roaming, breeding dogs that frequently got hit by cars. After a long strategic meeting and review of the neighborhood, it was decided that the Samaritan would host a “block party” for all her neighbors. The East Bay SPCA would be there to give free shots, free spay/neuter certificates and do an educational talk – all translated into Spanish by our host. The event was a huge success with over 35 dogs getting shots and other necessary tools such as collars and leashes, flea treatment, brushes and such. More events are planned for the future.

Another call came by way of Oakland Police. Neighbors had been complaining about a house that was breeding pit bulls. The conditions were squalid and the police confiscated the dogs. Our advocate went out there and met the two gentlemen who had the dogs, and started a dialogue. Within a day we had the adult dogs in for free spay and neuter, as well as three remaining puppies. Our advocate offered advice on cleaning up the property to make it more dog friendly, and more enjoyable for both people and pets. The puppies were found good homes and the female pitbull returned to her owners (after our advocate did a check and cleared them to re-own)– who now have become advocates of spaying and neutering dogs. Working with us they got to learn first hand how many pitbulls end up in shelters and never make it out. Deciding to become part of the solution, rather than the problem, they are now spokespeople for our services – and for the humane treatment of pets. They still communicate regularly with us.

We have dozens more similar stories. It gives me such pride to say we are effectively tackling some of the most difficult situations in the field and making a positive difference. The collaboration between Oakland Animal Control/Oakland Police Department and the East Bay SPCA should serve as a model for other cities. We are proof that it does work.

These success stories, with hundreds more to come, are because of the support we get from you and all our donors. I offer you my sincerest heart-felt thank you for the life-changing differences you are making in our community.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Search and Rescue

Huckleberry was rescued by the East Bay SPCA in Oakland from the Berkeley shelter in November 2007. Because of his excellent physical and mental abilities, Search and Rescue Foundation, www.searchdogfoundation.org, an organization which pulls candidates from shelters, was contacted and Huckleberry was put through the many tests to see whether he would qualify. Once he proved his mettle, he was put through the rigorous training to become a bona fide search and rescue dog. See this month’s Bay Woof for more details about Huckleberry’s story.

Sent to us from Berkeley Animal Control

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Free Shot Fair: Mission Possible!

We did it, and we did it with integrity! I want to thank everyone who participated in the March 29 Shot Fair at Ira Jenkins Park. These events connect us to the communities we serve in a way that nothing else does. We devote our time to offer a valuable service, we invest our heart and soul, and we take our experiences back with us—some good, some bad, some inspiring, and some that make us loose sleep at night. It is grass roots work in raw form. It is in these communities that our mission takes root, and where the seeds sprout with our efforts to create a more conscious environment for the welfare of companion animals.

The folks who help with these events are making an impact that extends beyond the boundaries of the park, and even the neighborhood. We are raising awareness, and that awareness will eventually put an end to animal suffering. We may not see it come full circle in our lifetime, but I have seen it extend beyond my imagination in the short period of time I have existed on this planet. It is true that we must act local and think global, because it is with that approach that we prevent burn out and defeat.

Sometimes I lay awake at night and think of the insurmountable amount of suffering humans have inflicted on innocent creatures, and in those moments I feel like I’ve undertaken an impossible mission. And then I think about the time that I was finally able to convince my neighbor to stop tethering his dog after five years of an imprisoned existence. I think about Bart surviving a cruel beginning, and finding a home where he is deeply loved. I think about all the effort our CA’s put into teaching dogs to trust that humans will treat them with kindness. We are doing right by animals, and we are doing right by people. When you do work that is based on kindness and respect, you are essentially healing the planet. You may not recycle all the time, and you may eat McDonald’s, but you are changing people’s minds about the way they treat their animals.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Goodnight, Kobe

One of the first things I learned in my employment here at the EBSPCA was the motto "you can't save them all." As pessimistic as it sounds, its something that we all have to accept to avoid overexerting ourselves emotionally. None of us would last more than a few months if we didn’t accept the fact that there are some things that all the compassion in the world can't accomplish.

Its been a few months since she left us, but sometimes my mind turns to a dog named Kobe. She was a black lab/cattle dog mix, about two years old, who came into our Oakland shelter as a stray. When I first looked at her in her kennel, I wondered if she was sitting at an odd angle, or if she was just unusually flexible, because her back legs looked very small.

I hate to admit it, but I was a little horrified when she got up to greet me, and I saw the reason why she looked so strange... Her back legs were atrophied to about half their proper size, and fused in a crumpled position behind her torso. When she got up, they didn't even touch the ground; she walked entirely on her front feet.

None of our staff knew what had happened to her, or how she managed to survive on two legs. But it seems like someone must have cared for her at one time, because she was quite loving, if a little scared (even with her disability, she tried to escape several times when she first came in.) The first time I formally met her, I kneeled down next to her and held out my hand so as not to scare her. Her response was to scoot right past my hand and lay her head on my knee with a world-weary sigh. I almost cried.

Because she had such a nice personality, the shelter higher-ups decided to have her looked at by a specialist to determine her prognosis. Undoubtedly she would never walk on four legs again, but many dogs with paralyzed or amputated rear legs function quite well when strapped into specially made wheeled carts.

While the results of these evaluations were pending, Kobe was busy loving shelter life. She seemed to know that people felt sorry for her, because she took every opportunity to snuggle in close to someone and get some love. She seemed to relish being the center of attention.

Unfortunately, Kobe's was not the Cinderella story that shelter workers crave. It turned out that her back had been broken, and because of the way her spine had curved, it was likely that she would suffer from painful bowel and urinary tract issues for the rest of her life. She had already become severely incontinent during her stay with us.

We did have to say goodbye to Kobe, but I know I speak for more than one employee and volunteer when I say that I take comfort in the fact that her last weeks were spent being loved and pampered. She may even have received more love and affection in her short stay with us than she had gotten the entire rest of her all-too-short life. "You can't save them all" may hold true for all of us at the EBSPCA, but in terms of compassion, our reach will always exceed our grasp.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Crooked Stanley

Stanley was a smelly, scrawny orange kitten who came into our shelter on my birthday, and began our acquaintance by biting me. Sure it hadn't been hard enough to draw blood, but it seemed inauspicious. Because I was the birthday girl, our feline associate (Jenna) gave me the honor of naming him. He seemed moody and a little violent, so I decided to name him Stanley after my favorite film director, Stanley Kubrick. My boyfriend warned me to save that name for another animal, since I had always talked about using it. However, kittens get adopted very quickly at our shelter, so I figured Stanley would be up for adoption for a week or two before he got snapped up, and I'd forget all about him. This was in November 2008, and little did I know I wouldn't be forgetting Stanley anytime soon.

At any rate, Stanley was put up for adoption. And he only stayed there for a day before Jenna noticed him sneezing and tilting his head. So, he went into our isolation ward and got started on some antibiotics for what was assumed to be a URI (Upper Respiratory Infection – a treatable illness that’s common in shelter cats.) A week or so passed, and I visited him regularly, which was probably a bad idea… I guess you can assume what happened then; I got attached. It seems his initial response to me was fear-driven, because from then on he started to purr just seeing me walk up to his cage. He was the kind of cat that would snuggle up to any available human, even if all the human he could access was a couple of fingers through the bars of his cage. He even licked my nose just about every time I held him in my arms.

After the next weekend, I came back to find Stanley's cage empty. After a small moment of panic I found him in our holding room with a "DO NOT HANDLE" sign on his cage. When I asked Jenna about this, she said that our office vet had to run some tests on him. Apparently his head tilt hadn't gone away, and when placed on the ground in a large room, he would walk with a strange, wobbly gait and occasionally trip over his own feet. This hadn't been noticed before because he was in a cage just big enough for him to stand and walk a few steps in. So, blood tests for poisoning and disease were needed. I spent most of the week worrying about him, and even opened his cage for the occasional pat, (even though its against shelter policy; if my bosses are reading this, I washed my hands up to the elbow before and after, I swear!)

Anyway, once the test results came back, they showed that Stanley was in good health. The most likely explanation for his problem lay in a genetic disorder called cerebellar hypoplasia. Similar to cerebral palsy in humans, its main symptoms are poor balance, irregular gait and perceptual abnormalities, all of which Stanley had in some form. However, his case seemed mild. So, our shelter being as gracious as it is, he was deemed adoptable, albeit with a medical waiver outlining his condition.

So, he went out in public view, and was a resounding failure at attracting potential adopters. I could insert a cynical comment here, but I don't think it really fits in with this story's beginning, or its outcome. I told myself that if he wasn't adopted by the end of the year, I would take him home. The only thing that kept me from taking him home in the first place was the reality of my life; I already have two prima donna female cats, I live in a teeny one-bedroom apartment with my boyfriend, and both of us work full-time. Although that didn't stop me from thinking "don't you DARE take my Stanley!" every time I saw someone poking their fingers through the bars of Stanley's cage. I nearly exploded when I heard someone mutter “that cat’s only got half a brain!”

However, nearly a month later, a woman came in to rent a feral cat trap (our shelter has a program where private citizens can humanely trap feral cats, bring them to our clinic to get them spayed/neutered free of charge, and then re-release them, thusly stopping population growth without killing.) Anyway, she was about my mom's age, and had been working with our shelter's cat program for nearly 3 years. She works from home, so she has ample free time to devote to helping us. I processed her trap rental, but since she was in no particular hurry, she decided to look at our cats. I talked to her for a good half hour about all things cat-related, and somehow Stanley came up.

Fortunately it was a slow day, so I had time to tell her all about him, and even take him out of his cage so she could see how sweet was. She was very taken with him, and he warmed up to her right away, to the point of doing the heart-melting nose lick. She said she would have loved to take him home, but couldn't really justify the expense. I felt a bit saddened by this, because to me she seemed like the ideal owner for him.

About five days later, a woman about my age came into the shelter, and immediately asked about Stanley. It turns out that the woman who had come in previously was her mother-in-law, and had mentioned Stanley wistfully several times since then. After peppering me with questions about his condition (she was actually a registered nurse) she asked if she could adopt him for her mother-in-law as an early Christmas gift. At that moment, I felt my chest get a little lighter, a feeling I now can only describe as joy! However, it is shelter policy not to adopt animals out to anyone who intends to give the animal as a gift. We want our adoption process to be as informed as possible. We do, however, offer gift certificates! So, I sold her a gift certificate and spent the rest of the day smiling, and cuddling Stanley whenever I had a spare moment.

The next day, I was eating lunch in the lounge when Michelle (one of our volunteers) came in and told me that Stanley was getting adopted, and that his new owner had asked for me by name. Immediately, I put aside my crossword puzzle and practically ran into the lobby. It was her, of course, and she said she was so happy I was here to see Stanley go home. In retrospect, I should have given her a hug. But all I thought to do was smile and hold Stanley on my lap as another employee processed the paperwork. So, after another 10 minutes of fervent thank yous being sent back and forth, I put Stanley in his new carrier and walked him and his new owner out the door, telling her to call my extension whenever she wanted to.

After Stanley went out the door, I felt a little sadness rising in the back of my throat, but it was overwhelmed by the feeling that he was going to a wonderful new home. And I admit, I felt some pride as well. Not really pride at having been an advocate for a fellow creature in need, but pride that I had resisted the selfish urge to keep him for myself in favor of letting someone else have a chance, especially someone who could give him a better home than I could have.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Love is Bitter Sweet

I cried when I first met Bonnie. Stuffed teddy bear in tow, she shook her behind wildly and greeted me with with a huge smile. "Please pick me, please pick me, please oh please pick me!" My heart dropped. It was love at first sight! The scars on her face revealed a dreadful past, yet her spirit was unaffected. Nothing could dissuade her joie de vivre. Those scars now only exaggerated her smile, and the joy poured out of her like an open dam. In the long months that she lived at our shelter, her enthusiasm was unwavering.

While Bonnie is the best dog I have ever known, she isn't always so fond of other dogs, and only then does her smile reveal the missing teeth from the damaged snout. She is cautious, and gives fair warning. This unfortunate trait extended her stay at the shelter longer than the average dog, though otherwise she passed all tests with flying colors: good with children, playful, gorgeous, gentle, young at heart, no food aggression, likes to snuggle, good manners, very obedient, curious, and an absolute love bug! When I arrived to work every morning, I always went to get my Bonnie fix. She was better than coffee.

I came to work yesterday to find Bonnie's kennel empty. I quickly checked my e-mail and read the one that would reveal her fate. It came from one of our volunteers who practically lives at the shelter and it read, "Hallelujah. Bonnie sleeps in her own home for the first time in many months. Good things do happen. " My heart sank and tears fell. Love is bittersweet at the East Bay SPCA!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The decision to euthanize

The most difficult part of my job, as part of the management team, is the decision to euthanize one of the animals in our care. The East Bay SPCA is not a "no kill" shelter. However, unlike city or county shelters, we only euthanize for health or behavior reasons. We will keep an animal up for adoption as long as it takes to find them a home, granted they pass our health and behavior criteria. That is where it gets tricky. What is that criteria and how do we decide was "passes" and what doesn't?

The case I want to talk about is a cat named Canella. Canella came to us from another local shelter. We did an initial assessment: cat is friendly, enjoys human interaction, seems healthy, etc. It was noted that she doesn’t like other cats. That’s ok; we’ll take her into our program and let the potential adopter know. She’s a Lynx Point Siamese mix, she will get adopted quickly!

Canella showed signs of stress after arriving at our shelter, as cats often do, by not eating a lot and acting a little quiet. She’d come over for pets and affection, but something seemed off. We had the vet take a look. She decided to run a blood panel as it appeared Canella was probably a little older than shelter staff had originally thought. (That is not uncommon. It is very difficult to tell a cat’s age when given no history by previous owners.) The blood panel came back and the news wasn’t good. Canella had kidney disease.

In the past, an animal with kidney disease was not put up for adoption. They were euthanized. This was not good news for Canella – a sweet, affectionate, beautiful, petite kitty. After discussing the case, we decided since Canella appeared stable – her eating had become regular, she seemed happy, etc. – we decided to put her up for adoption with a medical waiver. A medical waiver states that the adopter is made aware of the health condition and agrees to take on responsibility for the animal post adoption. We knew we would really have to tug at some heart strings to find her a home, but we wanted to give her a chance. With our new program in place, Club Second Chance, we felt it was the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, Canella has been waiting for a home since September. It was recommended that we perform a blood panel every couple months and weigh her regularly to monitor the progression of the disease. She is also to be fed prescription food, called K/D, which is a specially formulated diet for animals with kidney disease. After running the latest blood panel, her disease does seem to be progressing, but she is still in a stable state. It is uncertain how long she has, but it is certain that we would love to find her a home to live out her final days, whether that ends up being weeks, months or even years.

The time will come when we or her adopter will have to make that most difficult decision to put her to sleep, but not yet.

If you would like to meet Canella, she is available for adoption at our Oakland facility, located at 8323 Baldwin Street. As part of our Club Second Chance program, she will receive a discount for services at our Veterinary Clinic as well as discounts at participating businesses.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Growl, Meow & Wine!

It sure does take a lot of work to get this place nice and clean for the Growl, Meow & Wine event! This event is a way of saying "Thank You" to all of our contributors for helping us take such great care of our animals.

I am very excited, as this is my first year participating. I'm not sure exactly what it is going to be like, but from what everyone has told me, it seems like it is going to be fun. I'm also excited about the catering! :) Well, we have spent the last week cleaning every nook and cranny to make sure that the shelter looks its best. Hopefully we will also find some potential adopters for many of our dogs and cats too. I will keep you posted as to how it goes!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Casper is a wonderful example of why we started our Club Second Chance Fund. This fund provides for services and diagnostics required by some of our most deserving cats and dogs. Casper is a “mature” gentleman who won our hearts during his time in both Oakland and Dublin Adoption Centers. Through Club Second Chance, we were able to get him the expensive diagnostic work necessary to determine his medical condition and get him on the right medication so he could go to his new home… which he happily has done!

Our adopter and volunteer, Karin, has only wonderful things to say about Casper.
From Karin: Hi. I thought folks at the East Bay SPCA who remember and loved Casper while he was a resident in Oakland and Dublin (before being adopted by me!), would enjoy these pictures.
Two weeks ago Casper and I went down to Pacific Grove for a long weekend. Pacific Grove is a wonderful little town situated between Monterey and Carmel. I'm telling you, did Casper have fun! We took early morning walks on the beach everyday. He socialized with other dogs at the wonderful "off leash" dog beach in Carmel. He chased after water birds on the shore and would have loved to go after some sun bathing seals or a few deer walking around Asilomar State Park had he not been on a leash! Casper was reliving his young "whipper snapper" dog days that weekend. He even met a lovely young chocolate Lab named "Kona" at the dog-friendly motel we stayed at. It was love at first sight for Casper. He followed Kona everywhere when the two were together!
I think you can tell by Casper's big smile in the photos below, that he really had a ball. He had to rest up from his big out-of-town weekend, but is doing fine now. I think he misses the beach though (…and Kona).
: )

I am so happy we were able to give Casper the second chance he deserved.

Friday, March 28, 2008

A long way home

Just a few short months ago, Shy Girl was living in a hole. She was one of 145 dogs who were stranded outside of Gabbs, Nevada when their caretaker passed away. The dogs lived in outdoors pens in pairs or small groups, and had limited contact with people. Some were outgoing and friendly, some were nervous and barky, and some were scared of everything. Shy Girl was one of the scared ones - she didn't get her name for nothing.

Shy Girl spent most of her time hiding in hole she'd dug in her pen, and when rescuers came to remove her from the property, they had to climb into her hole and pull her out. I can only imagine how terrifying that moment must have been for her. Luckily, things would soon get better for this sweet dog.

The East Bay SPCA was part of a collaborative effort to rescue the Gabbs dogs, and in January seven of the dogs came to our Oakland shelter after a long truck ride from Nevada. Frank, Fred, Jacob, Oopsie, Argonaut, Pinny and Shy Girl were all so scared that they wouldn't move on their own, and had to be carried to their kennels. It was days, or in some cases weeks, before they would leave their kennels on their own. Something as simple as going for a walk around the shelter grounds was a major accomplishment for these dogs - they simply had no idea how to live with people.

Staff and volunteers worked patiently and diligently to bring the dogs out of there shells. The dogs were assessed on a regular basis to determine what progress they were making, and whether they could ever be placed in homes. One by one, they passed their temperament evaluations and were made available for adoption.

Two weeks ago, a woman named Theresa came to the shelter looking for a companion, and found Shy Girl. After a trial adoption period, Theresa knew that Shy Girl was the one for her, and offered this special girl a permanent home.

Four dogs are still looking for their forever homes. Oopsie is the most outgoing. She bonds with people quickly, and loves to go for walks.

Frank takes more time to warm up to new people, but once he bonds with you, you've got a friend for life. Frank doesn't like to be separated from those he's bonded with, and would do best with someone who can spend lots of time with him.

Argonaut is very shy, and prefers to spend much of his time resting in his crate. He wouldn't mind staying home alone while his owner goes to work.

Fred is quiet, but curious and hopeful. He is learning to enjoy walks and play time with other dogs.

If you think you might be able to provide a home to one of these special dogs, please give us a call or visit them at the shelter. Frank and Argonaut are at our Tri-Valley adoption center, and Fred and Oopsie are at our Oakland adoption center.

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