Meet Rebecca Frank, a member of the Behavior & Training team at SFACC. She’s usually out in the yard with a dog but took a break to share a bit about herself…

Where were you born and raised, and how did you come to work at SFACC? Did you grow up with animals or did some experience draw you to working with them?

I was born and raised in both Lafayette, Louisiana and Sugar Land, Texas. I grew up with three rescue cats and two rescue dogs. I have been volunteering at various animal shelters since I was 10. I simply can’t remember a time before I felt the weight and importance of advocating for animals without homes. After college I worked at a non-profit for adults with developmental disabilities. I loved working with that demographic but simultaneously was falling in love with my new housemate’s pit bull mix. I fell in love so hard. I started to educate myself on the history of pit bulls and why they get such a bad reputation. This struck a chord with me and I began shifting my career plans. I felt certain my passion could carry me through the next 35 years that a career would require of me. I decided becoming a dog trainer would best equip me with the knowledge and skills to help as many dogs as possible. I graduated from The Dog Training Internship Academy while working at a puppy training school and while volunteering at SFACC. Luckily for me, a position opened up on the Behavior & Training team at SFACC! I applied and to my extreme delight, got the job!

What do you do as an employee of SFACC? For how long?

I have been working on the Behavior & Training team (B&T) here since January of 2019. B&T is responsible for evaluating all the dogs that come into the shelter. We check to see how comfortable they are with human interaction, what kind of toys or treats they prefer, and how sociable they are with other dogs. We gather information to see if the animals are ready for adoption directly from at ACC or better suited to go to a rescue that has more resources to help them become more adoptable. We also come up with individual plans to help animals that are here for a long stay remain as emotionally happy and stable as possible.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Doing this job requires making a lot of difficult decisions. If it weren’t for my fantastic co-workers, who are consistently a source of lightness and support, I’m not sure I would be able to show up for the animals in the way I am able to. So my co-workers certainly are a part of my job that I appreciate most! My favorite moments at work though are when I make a break through with a really scared or shutdown dog. It’s so wonderful to witness them starting to feel safe and watching their personalities come alive. I often find myself saying to them, “Oh there you are, baby! I knew you were in there somewhere!”

Although the SIP ordinance has had plenty of downsides, one of the silver linings has been a lower population here at the shelter. Because of this, there has been more opportunity to spend extra time working with the fearful animals. I have cherished this!

Do you have pets of your own? If so, how many and what are their names? What do you do when not at work (hobbies, interests)?

I have one cat and her name is Sybil Storm-Cloud. She is an eight-year-old sweet cream puff. She knows how to kiss on cue, high-five, sit, spin, wave, and comes running and meowing when I ring a certain bell (which always leads to sardines).

When I am not at work and when we are not in quarantine, I spent a lot of time with my friends. Our favorite activities are hiking, cooking together and doing crafts. I also have begun dabbling in a bit of swing dancing. While in quarantine my boyfriend and I have kept ourselves occupied by going on hikes, exploring various trails in our neighborhood in Marin, trying to build some kind of meditation practice (why is that so hard?!), Zooming with our families, and lots and lots of cooking.

Most memorable case/situation/adoption at ACC? 

A frightened white pit bull with a gray patch over one eye and the pinkest lips came in to the shelter as a stray. I got the pleasure of naming her and I chose Passion-Flower. (I like to give pit bulls silly or flowery names to help fight the stigma.) Like many scared dogs in the shelter environment do, Passion-Flower was growling at most people who passed by her kennel. She decided, for some reason though, that she was okay with some staff members. Lucky for me, I got to be one of them! The first time I took her out of her kennel, I completely and totally fell in love with her. She fit her whole 65-pound body into my small lap and stayed there the whole time. Even though I fall in love with so many of the dogs I get to spend time with at the shelter, she really got into my heart for some reason. I decided I couldn’t bare the idea of her not taking her home. So, I decided to foster her until we could find her the right home. She really blossomed at my house and was a joyful, cuddly, dream girl. She was adopted after being at my house for a month. It was so hard to let her go but now she lives the dream life. She lives in Santa Cruz with a retired couple who are home with her often and who go to the beach daily. They send me updates every so often and it was such a wonderful experience.

What has made an impression on you while at ACC?

Nothing has made more of an impression on me than discovering a group of people who do extremely hard work based on their motivation to do better for the animals.

Rebecca Frank – Behavior & Training