Teapot’s Journey to Health and Happiness

In April, 2022, San Francisco Animal Care and Control (SFACC) celebrated their one-year anniversary in the new building! As fate would have it, SFACC received a stray dog around the time of the one-year mark, who became a shining example of the amazing work that is done in this new building.

Teapot, as the team named her, is a short, stout little bully mix. Her body exhibited years of hard living; she arrived at the shelter with a skin infection, hair loss, horrifically inflamed ears that were swollen shut after years of infection, and a belly that dragged on the floor from years of breeding.

Teapot was a fixer-upper but the team at SFACC knew that beneath that sad exterior was a gem of a dog. The veterinary staff started her on antibiotics and ear treatments immediately, and the Behavior and Training (B&T) team gave her lots of socialization opportunities. The Animal Control Officers (ACOs) invited Teapot to sunbathe in the squad room during their shifts and admin staff welcomed her with open arms to shuffle through their offices with her signature hip-wiggling walk and snorty sounds.

Staff and volunteers put her on a schedule for spa services–long baths with medicated shampoos, gentle wiping of her wrinkles and ears, manicures and pedicures, ear treatments, and of course a deep tissue massage while that medicated shampoo worked its magic. In no time, Teapot started to bounce back, and it became apparent that the care and compassion at SFACC was the best she’d ever had.

After years of illicit breeding, Teapot was ready to be spayed but her difficult life had taken a toll on her little body. She suffered significant complications during surgery and lost a lot of blood. It wasn’t looking good, so she was transferred to the hospital for overnight care and monitoring.

The staff at SFACC was devastated and everyone was desperate for a solution. SFACC’s operation manager worked round the clock to finance a blood transfusion for Teapot at a reduced cost. Everyone was biting their nails until Teapot made it through the night, and there was a collective sigh of relief when she returned to SFACC on a gurney the next morning.

Staff set her up in a space so cozy that ACOs and volunteers were all caught cuddling with Teapot. Teapot’s kennel quickly became the place to take your lunch break and she was more than happy to host her numerous admirers.

A rescue partner was eager to take Teapot and get her started on her next chapter, but they also realized that after such a difficult surgery, some rest and recovery was imperative. Staff knew it would be best for her to recover in a home without the stress and noise of a busy shelter, and a superfan SFACC volunteer (and card-carrying member of Team Teapot) works with a local bulldog rescue and offered to let Teapot crash in one of that rescue’s foster homes. It was an unconventional arrangement that staff green lit because everyone was working together for the best situation for Teapot.

Teapot has spent the past two weeks falling in love with her foster brother, getting absolutely pampered, and this week she will be chauffeured to the rescue partner, courtesy of a longtime SFACC volunteer who is also a part of Team Teapot.

Some dogs really do involve everyone in their story as they make their way through the shelter and on to their next chapter. Teapot is one such example–multiple rescues, veterinary partners, and countless SFACC staff and volunteers poured their hearts into this dog, and she will go on to become a beloved and pampered family member thanks to their efforts.

Your generosity enabled us to intervene and help this sweet girl when no one else would. We hope you will join Team Teapot and make a gift to help animals like her today.

Thank you for your continued support!

With gratitude,

Lauren Weston
Chair, Board of Directors
Friends of San Francisco Animal Care and Control

 

 

Test Kitchen Tuesday: Success with Doggie Playgroups

By Katy Jones
Adoption Partner Transfer Coordinator
Acting Supervisor of Behavior & Training Division

Nope, it doesn’t involve food or cooking. 

On Tuesdays, we Test Kitchen! Every Tuesday, members of our behavior & training staff partner with our Fetch volunteers to offer socialization opportunities to available dogs and unavailable dogs. Working with unavailable dogs in a playgroup capacity is an exciting new step for everyone—it allows us to use other dogs and play to build confidence and skills in dogs that would otherwise not be receiving this type of engagement. 

One of our greatest beneficiaries of Test Kitchen Tuesday (TKT) is a young dog named Tristan. Tristan is a hearing-impaired, adolescent Aussie mix who came to SFACC in early February as a stray. When Tristan arrived, he was incredibly shut down and presented as almost feral—he could not be touched, wouldn’t leave his kennel, and spent the majority of his days hiding under his Kuranda bed or pressed against the far back wall of his kennel. Tristan’s quality of life was very poor in this state. 

Over the course of a few weeks, Fetch and B&T made great efforts to work with Tristan at his own, glacial pace. Upon noticing him coming to the front of the kennel when other dogs walk by, I opted to sit in front of Tristan’s kennel with dogs known to be social with other dogs and people. And wouldn’t you know it—Tristan began to come out of his shell. 

Tristan was able to make friends with another SFACC dog resident, husky mix Winterkin. With regular play sessions, and tandem walks throughout the shelter, Winterkin was able to help Tristan relax and embrace his fun side (and learn to walk up stairs too!)

Tristan and Winterkin benefitted hugely from having TKT every week to play and let loose. Social opportunities for dogs can help reduce the stress that is inherent in sheltering, and Tristan and Winterkin beautifully exemplify the healing power of play! Tristan quickly began to win the hearts of staff and volunteers alike and was adopted yesterday by a member of our B&T staff! He’s settling in well at home. His new name is Lemonade—because when life hands you a lemon, you send that lemon to playgroup to sweeten up! Hah.

Check out Lemonade and Winterkin (aka “Winnykinny”) playing. Winterkin was adopted through our rescue partners Welcome Home Sanctuary and he’s living  the life in the Santa Cruz mountains.

 

 

 

 

 

Another Test Kitchen Success Story…

The cute pittie wearing the coat in this playgroup video with Tristan and Winterkin is a dog Katy found in front of her house one night: “She had had puppies and was dumped in the park near where I live. I brought her inside and set her up for a sleepover and then took her to SFACC the next day. She was a star player in TKT but needed some confidence building—she went to a great foster through Grateful Dogs Rescue and I believe is being adopted! So just a win/win/win!” 

Editor’s Note:
B&T Acting Supervisor Katy Jones recently completed the winter course with Shelter Playgroup Alliance, a group of folks that support healthy interdog relations in shelters and is positive-reinforcement/science based. The winter cohort is a four-month course for shelter workers, dog trainers, and anyone looking to beef up their knowledge of canine body language and conspecific social behaviors.  Learn more about Shelter Playgroup Alliance

The Compassion of an Animal Shelter

By Deb Campbell
Volunteering/Public Information/Outreach

(Names of the pets and their person have been changed to respect their privacy.)

Kate was doing well. She had a good job, a car, her own apartment, and was living with her beloved cat (Downy) and dog (Diamond) in San Francisco. She was even able to afford significant vet bills for Downy’s ongoing kidney issues. Her visits to the veterinarian totaled over $12,000–which she gladly paid with her savings.

Then the pandemic hit and Kate lost her job. She was eventually evicted from her apartment and ended up on the street with Diamond and Downy. Kate bought a car so that she and her pets would have shelter and remain together as a family.  The car became a home to Kate, Diamond, and Downy.

More bad luck ensued, and the car Kate bought turned out to have been stolen before she purchased it. She lost the car and was arrested for its theft, despite having nothing to do with stealing the car.

Diamond and Downy were picked up by Officer Danetra Burke and transported to San Francisco Animal Care & Control (SFACC). The animals were taken into protective custody to be cared for until staff could work with Kate to determine their future. Diamond (a six-year-old pit bull) and Downy (a six-year-old long-haired gray cat) are best friends, but could not be put in the same room together at the shelter. Both animals received warm beds, toys, and treats, and enrichment from specially trained volunteers.

Animal Control Officers wanted to make sure that Diamond and Downy were able to see each other. They brought both into the squad room (the Animal Control Officers’ headquarters) to hang out, see each other, and get affection and attention from all who saw them. Everyone fell in love.

When Kate was released from jail her priority was her pets. She wanted her companions back, but she wanted them to have a secure place to go.  Kate’s main concern was to make sure her beloved pets were safe. She was still homeless, but now she had no money and no car. She talked to SFACC’s Shelter Service Reps every day to let them know she was diligently looking for options to house herself and her pets. Shelter Service Reps, including Anacani Serrato, were impressed with her caring and commitment.

SFACC staff stepped in. Animal Control Officer Jason Kent and Animal Care Attendant Sandy Avila had a car that they didn’t need. They donated it to Kate. Now she had a place to live with Diamond and Downy. Officer Stephanie Pone knew Kate would need money to register the car, so she started a donation drive. SFACC staff donated over $600 to take care of the car registration and other expenses. Behavior & Training Supervisor Katy Jones, Officer Burke, and Officer Pone knew Kate would need supplies for her pets. They packed the donated car with toys, treats, bedding and food–and included special food for cats with kidney disease.

When Kate came to SFACC to be reunited with her pets, she learned that Operations Manager Ariana Luchsinger had waived all of the fees that she owed to the shelter. Kate was able to begin the next chapter of her life knowing that she and her pets had the best possible start thanks to the caring and compassionate staff of San Francisco Animal Care & Control.

The SFACC team (left to right; top to bottom)… ACA Sandy Avila, Officer Danetra Burke, B&T Supervisor Katy Jones, Officer Jason Kent, Operations Manager Ariana Luchsinger, Officer Stephanie Pone, and SSR Anacani Serrato.

Adoption Success Story – Welcoming Enzo

woman and cat kissing

By Judi Basolo
SFACC Adopter

My beloved cat Guido the Italian Kitty was born at SFACC and I adopted him at the SFSPCA. He passed two months shy of his 15th birthday, and within two days, Grappa (my 7-1/2 year old calico) and I moved 48 hours later to a new home here in SF. It was CAT-Oh-Strophic for sure (I’d never wish this stress on anybody). Grappa had always lived with Guido in that home and here she and I were without him, and in a place filled with 69 cardboard moving boxes.

I felt my life had imploded yet I knew my cat-momma job was to get the boxes out of the house for Grappa and for us girls to have a new life. But she missed Guido so much. I started searching for a kitten because as a calico with her own mindset and I realized Grappa needed a youngster so she could train them. In my search I found no kittens for adoption in S.F., on the Peninsula, in Marin County or even in Yolo County (I’d adopted two kitties previously from the Yolo SPCA). In March, it seemed that kitten season was delayed.

I reached out to my long-time friend Virginia Donohue who happens to be the director of SFACC, and she said “Hey I told you a week ago about Toni’s Kitty Rescue!”  It’s true she had, but in my moving stress I’d not paid attention, so I called Toni who said “We have one tux kitten that’s in foster care now,” and she connected me with Ginny Chin (an experienced foster kitten volunteer for TKR and the shelter).

Phew. Now it’s Friday April 16th. I phoned Ginny who FaceTimed me with her one and only kitten. He was precious and wild, racing around in the video, and she said “Well do you want him?” The answer was YES, and I immediately told her “ENZO Furrari is coming to our home!”  DON’T ask me how I came up with his name–although all my kitties have had Italian names: Baci, Guido, Grazie, and Grappa.

The following Wednesday, Ginny met me in the parking lot of SFACC and I cried tears of joy meeting my new inky, dinky little man cat! His story it turns out is that Enzo was found at 7-10 days of age in a metal works site in an industrial neighborhood of SF. A good Samaritan found him and brought him into the shelter. Thank GOD is all I can say. He weighed only 10 ounces, his papers show.

Losing Guido after almost 15 years broke my heart and Grappa’s heart was broken too but now, Grappa and I are back on track thanks to SFACC putting me in touch with Toni’s Kitty Rescue.

Enzo is a bundle of joyous smitten kitten and we are a family again. My advice? Don’t give up on your search—the kittens are out there and are ready to love you!

 

    

Duma and Tandy’s Big Adventure

Duma and Tandy at their Los Angeles layover. They had a blast! 

By Kathryn Jones
SFACC Adoption Partner Transfer Coordinator

In my role as Adoption Partner Transfer Coordinator, it was a treat for me to provide input to the Friends of SFACC board during their annual process of inviting applicants to apply for a Rescue Partner Grant. Over the past few years, I have been able to see first-hand how very effective these grants are to our valued partners and how deeply they appreciate them. While partner rescue is more behind the scenes than an adoption or a brave wildlife rescue (hello, mountain lion in a tree!), I have found that these rescue placements and transport trips reveal a deeply passionate network of people who will go above and beyond for an animal at SFACC.

I cannot understate how valuable our rescue partners are to our shelter animals—they are a lifeline for dogs, cats, birds, rodents, wildlife, and beyond. With our extensive partner program and our wide reach, I have come to think of SFACC as a launching pad; oftentimes we are merely a pit stop on the journey to a bright future. It takes some creativity and persistence on my part, and at times some bribery (I’m not above sending a dog along to rescue with a few cases of beer and a cake), and a whole lot of folks willing to donate their time and resources, but it is incredible to be a part of such an effective chain of people.

Our master list has approximately 135 rescue partners that span from California to Idaho to Arizona and beyond. When providing feedback about which partners Friends should invite to apply this year, I considered a few things; like so much of the rescue world, this is a nuanced piece. The award decision-making process is not just about the number of animals the rescue takes from our shelter, but also takes into account the types of animals pulled and their specific needs. A rescue that specializes in high-risk dogs with extensive medical needs will often have a high cost of operation and the grants from Friends can be a lifeline these rescues.

One such story is of Duma and Tandy, a pair of adolescent Rottweilers. This brother-and-sister pair were surrendered to our shelter last month. These two dogs were inexperienced with much of the world, and deeply anxious in the shelter environment. Our fantastic behavior team saw their potential, worked with FETCH to increase Duma and Tandy’s comfort during their stay with us, and I got to work pounding the digital pavement in order to find them suitable placement. I found an excellent rescue that focused solely on Rottweilers and had experience with undersocialized dogs. They were the perfect fit for our twin Rotties—but they were located in Arizona.

With some luck and elbow grease, the rescue agreed to take Duma and Tandy. Our heroic LT, the supervisor of the Behavior & Training department, offered to drive the pair to a halfway point in Los Angeles. We loaded the pair up in crates and LT spent a day carpooling these two goobers down south. In LA, they spent a few nights at a layover with some friends of the rescue before being scooped up by a volunteer from rescue; he flew from Phoenix to LA, rented a car, and drove our Duma and Tandy back to Arizona with him. Both dogs are doing fantastically and already have potential adopters waiting in the wings.

These rescue stories happen every week. They involve volunteers, staff members, good Samaritans from the general public, and folks I’ve never even met on the receiving end of things. They take trust, persistence, an almost foolish level of hopefulness and faith, and they produce outstanding results. The grants from Friends help our partners continue to do the incredible work they do for our animals. It has been a privilege to spend the past few years growing this network and extending this chain on behalf of the dogs and other animals under our roof. I have met a lot of wonderful people who all have one thing in common: a love of animals.