September 2022

In September, SFACC had 142 adoptions (99 cats,21 dogs, and 22 other species). In addition, the shelter transferred 243 animals to adoption partners (122 cats, 60 dogs, and 61 other species). A total of 385 animals! Thank you to everyone involved in giving these animals a second chance!

 Update: House panther Maru (left) was adopted in January and he even has a buddy to hang out with. “He’s been doing great! Thank you for all the work you folks do!”

Statuesque beauty Liz Taylor went home with a family who recently lost their SFACC alumni bully.

Bonded junior house panthers Jaadoo and Kismet have gone home.

Cutie pie pup Zela has gone home.

Yay! Gorgeous guy Willis went from stray to his forever home!

Small animals volunteer Sharon adopted sweet wee bun Sterling! Hoppy tails!

Adoption update! Sweet elder pig Prubs was feeling blue because she’d lost her lifelong piggie companion. Her person brought her to SFACC to find her a new friend. She hit it off with neutered male Gimlet and home he went. He’s now named Ringo “because of his moptop and gentle goofus face and he’s settled in beautifully…and Prubs is scampering around like a girl again.”

Another update: Empanada is growing up fast, almost 20 lbs now, she is super happy and healthy! Her new name is Poppy (as California Poppy.) See more photos of Poppy here.

Petite pittie girl Doechii has gone home with a canine sibling.

Wow, that was fast! Pufnstuf has been adopted! He’s gone home with one of our dog walking volunteers, who met him on her shift today and fell in love!

Chonky sweetie Alexandra was adopted today. How happy are her adopters?!

Wee pup Sweet Pea was available for maybe an hour before she met her new family.

Chocolate velvet hippo Dunkel has gone home! Looks like he’s pretty happy about it.

Playful cutie Max was adopted today. He’ll have lots of people to play with.

So many cat adoptions and many happy faces, in one weekend! Kittens Jasper & Emerald went home together. House panther kitten Jameson rode home in style. Tabby cutie Mica went home, as did gray sweetie Chia. And kittens Dragonite & Prune met, became new sisters, and went home together.

Pretty pup Dumpling is so happy to have gone home. (Never mind her worried face!)

Darling kitten Bobo has found his forever family.

Longtime resident guinea pig bonded pair French & Toast.

Ashley and Harley

Isabella update

Jaadoo and Kismet

Lorenzo and Giuseppe

Merlin, Winnie, and Munchkin

Merv adopted and now has an older sister.

Woohoo! Puppy Ramen has gone home. Something tells us she’s very pleased.

Kitten siblings Ah Mui & Ah Goh went home with some human siblings! And Ruby went home after being left alone when her siblings were all adopted. Happy tails!

Virtual Coyote Talk

On Thursday, Sept. 29, Keli Hendricks from Project Coyote, SF Animal Care & Control, and the SF Recreation & Parks Department held a virtual talk about the coyotes in our midst, common coyote myths, ways to keep you and your pets safe, what to do if you see a coyote, laws and coyotes, and so much more. A Q&A followed the presentation with questions about coyote behavior in general and SF coyotes in particular.

If you missed the webinar, you can view the recording on Youtube.

For additional questions, please contact

The Nose Knows – Dog Enrichment Sessions

By Carri Lucas
SFACC Volunteer

Enterprising Dog Volunteer Carri Lucas recently started an enrichment program for SFACC dogs and volunteers after taking a class called “Nose Work Enrichment for Shelter Dogs.” She’s been coordinating sessions on Saturdays for several weeks using low-tech resources—empty boxes and shelter treats—and the dogs love it! Thanks to Carri, many volunteers have learned and participated in this stress-relieving activity. Carri shared with us her inspiration for starting the sessions and how it works.

I became interested in enrichment methods for dogs when I took a class here at ACC which was given by a member of our Behavior and Training team, Mary Giuffrida. She taught us ways that we could provide enrichment for the dogs in our shelter with food puzzles that you can make by using egg cartons, cereal boxes, and so on. The game for the dog is to use his/her brain and sense of smell to find the treats hidden in these items and figure out how to get at them. There are many forms of enrichment that dogs can participate in, but Mary’s class showed us things we can easily do in an animal shelter. She opened up a whole new world for me of understanding that all dogs need activities that stimulate them mentally. The added bonus is that play like this can be a stress reducer and even help with behavior issues.

So, when Lauren Taylor from SFACC’s Behavior and Training team told me about an online class titled, “Nose Work Enrichment for Shelter Dogs,” I signed up for it immediately. The course instructor does nose work with dogs at a Southern California animal shelter and I thought maybe we could do this at SFACC. The teacher from the course emphasized that nose work for shelter dogs has many benefits:

  • Enriching because dogs get to express naturally occurring behaviors
  • Mentally and physically exhausting
  • Stress buster
  • Teaches focus
  • Helps prevent behavioral deterioration
  • Fun activity for staff and volunteers

How it works

First, we start all the dogs on something easy: four to six boxes all in a straight line with their tops open. One of the boxes contains a high value treat. That is called the “dirty” box.

The handler comes into the room with the dog and says one word, one time: “Search.”  When the dog finds the box with the treat, we all say “Good dog!” with great enthusiasm.  We then set up the course again, putting the dirty box in a different location in the line. Kind of like a shell game. We run the dog through this course several times until it is no longer a challenge. Then we close the tops of the boxes. When that becomes too easy (the dog finds the treat in the dirty box almost immediately,) we put the boxes with their tops closed into an array and no longer in a straight line. Maybe one on top of another, some on their sides or upside down.

Well, Legend (now adopted) advanced quickly as you can see from this video.

Dogs search differently. Legend is a very methodical searcher. Even after he found the treat in the dirty box, he went back to see that he hadn’t missed anything. And he has a great nose. The first box he keyed on didn’t have a treat in it but we had used it prior as “dirty” box so it still had a scent. That was human error. But Legend was able to triumph over that. He is one smart dog.

Based on NACSW (National Association of Canine Scent Work) methodology, nose work enrichment for shelter dogs is uniquely successful because the dogs get the perception of having control in an environment where they have very little control of anything. They self-reward.

We have a new nosework superstar: Pink! Lots of closed boxes, a tiny piece of hot dog hidden in one, was no challenge for Pink. Watch her go! Come by and meet this budding genius and all-around sweet dog! She is available for adoption.

August 2022

In August, SFACC had 143 adoptions (98 cats, 20 dogs, 25 other species). In addition, the shelter transferred 317 animals to adoption partners (98 cats, 20 dogs, 25 other species). Thank you to everyone involved in giving these animals a second chance!

After waiting patiently at the shelter for 8 months, Legend’s person found him and he’s now in his forever home. Thank you to all volunteers and staff who helped this boy stay engaged!

Goofy Lab in a fluffy husky body Ohlone went home.

Walter has sauntered out of the building, but not before striking a pose or two with his new mom, one of our transport volunteers.

Beautiful mama Joy went home and we already have an update! Joy is now named Cheri Joy and is so loved!

Adoption update! Diva was adopted last month and is loving her forever home: “She loves taking naps and lying on her pink blanket.

Pretty girl Bernie was adopted in February. “She’s doing great and I love her. Thank you for everything!” Thank you for giving her such a loving home!

Adoption update! Scrumptious pup Mr. Baby Boy was adopted last month and we have an update: “Mr Baby Boy now goes by Tugboat aka Tuggie. He is loving life with his big brother Louie.”

Can you guess the breed? Pascal (fka Chunk) was adopted from us last month and his adopters already did a DNA test. We were right in our main breed guess, but there are some surprises in the mix!

Yesterday a family adopted 3 rabbits: Bonded pair Snowdrop and Pepper and longtime shelter resident Ophelia! They have a big new house and yard with plenty of room for new rabbit friends.

Miss Gigi has been adopted.

Adoption update! Last week puppy boy Odin wowed us with his bow tie wearing skills, and this week he’s in his forever home! “Odin is doing great! He already sits on command and he loves the backyard…the cats are already sleeping on the bed with him …thanks so much for all you do!” Thank you for adopting!

Hooray! It’s our first ever kitten & pigeon adoption! When the adopter decided to come adopt a kitten, they saw we had a singleton pigeon available and decided to add the bird to their aviary!

Bonded pair Silver & Onyx went home together!

Nana Bo Bana (now Hana) is doing fabulously with her two kitten sisters and getting an unlimited supply of tummy rubs and love.

Senior sweetie Spike has gone home! He was adopted last month but came back when it became clear he wanted to be a solo cat.

“Last month was the 2-year anniversary of Cookie joining my life and I wanted to say thank you again for making this possible. She is such a joy to be around, she really blossomed into an adorable, confident and very affectionate little girl, such a difference from the first day when she was so underweight and scared.

Thank you for everything that you do every day for the animals that go through the shelter, and for allowing happy stories like ours to happen.”

Sweet smiley Isabella has been adopted!

Skippy the husky pup was adopted and has a big sis.

Boba has gone home to an adopter with lots of pugs-perience.

Little Cashew (L) has been adopted and has a sibling.

Sweet Doechii (R) has gone home with a new sibling too!

Pixel adopted!

My Volunteer Evolution

By Andrea Gremer
SFACC Volunteer and Friends Board Alum

I feel like this should start with, “Once upon a time, long, long ago…” because in many ways my entanglement with SF Animal Care & Control is one of the most unlikely stories of my life. Since I started volunteering at SFACC I’ve had six jobs and countless hobbies that I’ve picked up and dropped. My numerous dates and several ex-boyfriends might say I have a problem with commitment. I’ve never stuck with a therapist long enough to find out if they’re right.

During my first job with the City, my dog Jake passed away. We got Jake when I was 10 and he lived to be 17 years old. Without waxing too sentimental here, there’s a scene in Goodfellas where Ray Liotta’s character says something to the effect of, “When a dog you got as a kid dies, a little piece of you dies too.” That was certainly true for me, and my new coworkers noticed. Someone I worked with mentioned that her friends’ cousin’s neighbor, or someone within six degrees of Kevin Bacon, volunteered at SF Animal Care & Control and loved it and maybe that would help me be less sad.

Twelve years ago, I knew zero things about animal rescue, even less about open-admission shelters, and in general felt very skeptical about volunteering, but I went to the orientation and signed up to be trained as a dog volunteer. As a busy, young professional it was a perfect setup where I could go in whenever I had free time, get some steps in and cuddle with some furballs. I read that these things are good for your mental health and I can certainly confirm that to be true. A few years later someone recruited me to be a dog volunteer mentor and teach new volunteers how to volunteer. I know what you’re thinking, and yes some people need to be taught how to hold a leash and everyone needs to practice harnessing a wiggly six-month-old, 40-pound puppy that is just SO EXCITED TO SEE YOU!! I certainly needed help with both of those things when I started. New volunteers really run the gamut─from folks who are trying to get over their fear of dogs to people who have had dogs with significant behavior problems and had to manage them so they didn’t bite every person they met. I’ve mentored former VPs and recovering drug addicts. You never know in what corner of the world you’ll find other animal people.

As a mentor, you also get to be one of the few who are allowed to walk certain dogs. Like Calvin, a huge Mastiff that our Animal Control Officers had found hiding in a bush at a park just a few blocks from the shelter. The edges of his ears had been eaten away by mites and even after several weeks at the shelter he was still visibly underweight. He barked at anyone who walked past his kennel and had a generally scary appearance in his kennel despite being a big baby. We’d go out for walks and barely make it to a sunny spot in front of the building before he’d lay down for a belly rub. I don’t know anyone at SFACC that didn’t love Calvin, but I’m not sure he ever even had a get acquainted because of his size and loud voice. Eventually Calvin went to a rescue group to be a support animal for Veterans.

A few years after that, I offered to help out with the Friends of San Francisco Animal Care & Control (Friends), the non-profit arm that fundraises on behalf of the shelter, and found myself on the Board. Friends is a little bit of a mystery, probably because they don’t typically do things that are big and splashy. I think of Friends as a backstop: the organization that is there to make sure things don’t fall through the cracks. They pay for several part-time positions in the Behavior & Training (B&T) Department (without whom the shelter would fall to pieces, I’m fairly sure). They pay for certain medical procedures that ACC has to outsource because our mighty vet staff of two vets and two vet techs don’t have the resources to deal with them─such as amputations or temporary conditions that require 24-hour care. They also give out annual micro-grants to our rescue/adoption partners who are an absolutely invaluable resource in getting animals out of the stressful shelter environment.

Friends does incredibly important work, even if it remains mostly hidden. As a Board member and a volunteer, I was lucky to be able to see the ACC requests, but then also see the results and what a difference they make. I met some incredible people on the Board, smart, empathetic, creative problem solvers. Ironically I resigned from the Board to give myself more free time (which I probably would’ve used to walk dogs at ACC, if I’m being honest), only to find myself in a Covid lockdown three months later re-watching Game of Thrones to pass the hours.

Volunteers weren’t allowed into the shelter during the first year and a half of the pandemic. Not that it stopped me from taking a dog or two on a field trip or from stopping by to drop off cookies for friends who work there. Finally, last summer during kitten season, the vet staff put out a call for help to a group of dog volunteers. They were swamped and needed people to help out in the vet room. It was the first opportunity to start volunteering again and I pounced on it.

Unlike walking dogs where I would occasionally sit outside the shelter, on the sidewalk, in the sun, for an hour petting and cuddling with a dog, there is rarely a dull moment in the vet room. Between cleaning surgical equipment, administering meds, laundry, medical evaluations, ACOs bringing in animals in distress, ranting about the state of our healthcare system (both human and animal), getting more towels, and making sure our daily visitors get a little socialization, it is a busy room. I’ve recently learned how to draw vaccines, so I feel like now I’m basically qualified to do your kidney transplant. My favorite task though is delivering hot dog/cream cheese masterpieces filled with meds to some of our canine residents.

I might eventually walk adoptable dogs again or I might start volunteering with the unavailable dogs in our Fetch program, but ACC and I are in this for the long haul. When I think back over the last 12 years there, and what I want out of the next 12, two common threads come to mind. One is that I’m constantly learning new things at ACC. We are continually learning new things about dog behavior and B&T Dept. does an excellent job at keeping volunteers updated. I’ve learned about the health code and how the City is structured and run. I’ve learned about how to run a nonprofit organization, and how to fundraise and network. I’ve helped to give ringworm medication to guinea pigs (they look so surprised!). I’m learning about kittens and their medications, and the challenges that come with running a high-volume foster program. The second, and probably more important thread, is the people. In all my various roles, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with almost every department in the shelter. People frequently tell me that I “know everyone,” which I’m sure isn’t true because animal welfare has such a high turnover rate among staff. But I do know quite a few of “everyone” and I feel incredibly lucky to have met several of my best friends through ACC. We recently had a volunteer appreciation party and someone said, “I came for the animals, but I stayed for the people.” and I couldn’t agree more. As an introvert, I often feel like the people at ACC and on the Friends board adopted me in spite of myself.

One of the best things I ever heard an adopter say about ACC was that we really know our animals. They had shopped around at other rescues and were struck by how well we know each one of the available dogs. If they prefer playing fetch to going for a walk; if they love their stuffed elephant; if they are really excited in the kennel, but calm right down as soon as you get them outside; if they love to play in the kiddie pool, but hate the rain. We really know our animals. Because the people at ACC─staff and volunteers─all really care. The front desk will make special announcements when adopted animals come back to visit, “attention staff and volunteers, Max is in the lobby if you’d like to come say hello.” and we all flock to the first floor for a reunion.

I’ve been wracking my brain for the perfect story that encompasses ACC, but there’re honestly too many to pick just one. Calvin, obviously, but also Cloudy, Bedda, the Hurricane Irma rescues, Max, Melody, the wine puppies and the cocktail puppies, Bullwinkle, Brenda, Remus and Remy, baby Reggie, Linus, Wesley, Porkchop, Sonny (the good boy), Kiska (the model), Rufus (the goofus), Faith who had the best kennel card write up of all time, Milo (a goober), Sweet Jane, at least six Brunos and at least seven Lunas, Chester, Sara Jessica Barker, Smokey Bear, and Murphey and about five hundred others. And those are just the dogs!

I did recently stumble upon a quote that I think about sums it up, “Keep rescuing animals, you may lose your mind, but you will surely find your soul.” Twelve years ago the plan was to just volunteer until I’d gotten over the loss of my dog. Twelve years later I still look forward to my weekly shelter adventures. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

To learn about volunteering at SFACC, visit their website and complete the online form.