Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Skinny On Model Shelter: Where The Rubber Meets The Road

You probably have questions. We keep talking about this Model Shelter thing. What is a Model Shelter? Why are we so proud to be the first Model Shelter in the country? What does this have to do with all the fuzznuggets and snugglemuffins you guys are so used to seeing on our social media?

Aforementioned poopies/snugglemuffins.
Relax, friends. We have answers. Super important answers. So bear with us and we're going to explain it. Okay? And trust us, it's very important. And there will be fluffnuggets and scruffmuffins.

"Iff my mouff" (translation: It's my mouse)
Here's why it's really important (and something that most folks don't know): there is absolutely no government agency or judicial act that looks out for the welfare of animals in shelters. None. Nada. There are over 3,500 physical shelters and 10,000 sanctuaries and rescues and no standardized baseline of care for the kids in those shelters.

The Model Shelter guidelines, created by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians, are totally voluntary and guarantee that animals are receiving a level of care to protect against them from suffering and disease while in a shelter . It establishes a set of five simple but essential freedoms for animals in shelters. Ready for the five freedoms?

If by 'five freedoms' you mean a cookie then yes, I am so ready. 
  • Freedom from Hunger and Thirst: All animals have ready access to fresh water and appropriate diet to maintain health and vigor. 
  • Freedom from Discomfort: All animals have an appropriate environment to reside in, including shelter and a comfortable resting area. 
  • Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease: Preventative care and rapid diagnosis and treatment are made readily available. 
  • Freedom to Express Normal Behavior: Animals are given sufficient space, proper facilities and the company of animals of their own kind.
  • Freedom from Fear and Distress: Conditions and treatment are ensured to prevent mental suffering.

Everyone needs a little stress relief.

What does this look like? Here's an explanatory scruffnugget:

All better now, thanks. 
This is Trevor. Trevor came to us with parvovirus. While it was important for us to save Trevor, it was equally important that we keep every other animal in the shelter safe from parvo, which is super contagious. During Trevor's treatment he was housed in a quarantined area of the shelter and staff who handled him followed strict bio-security measures to make sure everyone else in the shelter was staying safe. As a result, Trevor got better and found a great home and not one of our other animals got parvo.

Another example? Who remembers Phil the Booger Cat? The super high energy, dog like, nutter-butter Philsy that we all loved so?

Finding Phil a home was fantastic but it wasn't enough. While Phil was waiting for that forever home, he needed to be able to express his natural behavior, to play, and to be comfortable in his space. Which, in Phil's case, required a specialized behavior plan that included one on one time with the behavior staff to get his ya-yas out, play therapy and a much larger space than most cats need. While every single animal gets one on one attention with staff and volunteers, it means going the extra mile to make sure every animal is being treated as an individual and their needs are being met.

Everyone needs friends. 
Okay, so these are big examples but the beauty of Model Shelter isn't in the big, it's in the little as well. It's not just about the dramatic cases, like Phil and Trevor, but in the case of every single animal, every single day. It's the right for an animal to not only have a life but have a life that has value. To have friends and exercise and safe places and things that give comfort while going through the transition of finding a home. To quote Dr. Kate Hurley, who coauthored the guidelines:
"We cherish life and we cherish welfare. We say no to needless death and we say no to suffering in our care, not for one animal, not for one day."

Everyone needs a place to get some alone time. 
To certify as a model shelter we met 543 guidelines and were audited by the UC Davis Koret School Of Vet Medicine. It was a big deal. And while we realize we're lucky to have resources and supporters like you guys that made it possible, we're looking forward to helping other shelters join us as Model Shelters. Because in the end, it's all about the scruffnuggets and snugglemuffins, right?


Friday, October 13, 2017

A Big Blog: A Rundown On A Big Week And A Big, Big Ask.

We need to ask you for some favors right now. Before we do, we'll explain why we need them. Just follow us here for a second. 

This is Tiffanie. Tiffanie, though you wouldn't know it to look at her, is having a pretty rough week. 

I still like cookies, though. So that's something. 
On Saturday morning, she was in New Orleans. She flew up here on an airlift with a bunch of other dogs. The nice folks at a New Orleans shelter were transferring most of the adoptable animals out  so they could house dogs from the recent hurricanes. While six of the airlifted dogs came to us, Tiffanie, her sister and a whole mess of other pets went to our friends at Petaluma Animal Services. This was on Saturday. The kids were pretty happy to get here. 

I am so happy to meet you I must bounce.
On Sunday the world fell apart for many of our California neighbors. As wildfires devastated the North Bay and Napa regions, space was needed in the shelters there. Our transfer van went to Petaluma and picked up fourteen dogs, including Tiffanie and several others who had just arrived from the south. 

Note the color of the sky in Petaluma. Smoke.
This might have been the end of Tiffanie's bad week (she's safely ensconced in a foster home now and not planning any more travel) it was just the beginning of a terrible week for so many more of our neighbors in the north. As the fires continued to rage, we received calls from Marin and Rohnert Park shelters. They were also trying to clear out adoptable pets to make room for the animals coming in from the fire. On 6 PM on Wednesday night we sent out an urgent call for foster homes. Because you guys rock we were crowded with foster folks within two hours. This time it wasn't just dogs. Senior kitty Joseph, happy to be away from the smoke, was on the transport. 

It's been a long day. Do you have treats?
As was outgoing Luke, who has already made new friends in his foster home. 

Thank you tiny hooman. I could use a massage. 
All told, Wednesday we took in eleven dogs, twenty one cats and two guinea pigs. 

As the situation develops, we're in touch with shelters in the affected areas and are ready to offer more assistance if need be. 

Now let's get to the bit where you can help:

Mahina shows off her 'who me? face. Yes, you guys. 
All of the animals we've taken, both from the fires and the storms, were available for adoption before catastrophe struck. They all have been waiting for forever homes. They have all been through an amazing ordeal and a lot of changes. 

They need forever homes. They need a life to settle into so they can start again. 

Even before I got to California, I had been waiting a long time for a home. 
If you have ever thought of adopting, this is the time to do it. Adopting an animal, even one that didn't come from the fires or the hurricanes, benefits way more than just that animal. 

  • It frees up adoption space for the ones waiting in foster.
  • It frees up a foster home for someone else needing to come in. 
  • It offers solace and comfort to the other shelters and individuals who worked so very hard to get these animals out of harm's way. 

If you can't adopt, tell all of your friends. Tell your lonely aunt - she'd love a big mellow cat like Valerie. 

She likes TV, I like TV...
Tell your jogging neighbor who could use a big handsome bubba like this guy.

Did I hear running?
Tell everyone. The stars are aligned. The universe has spoken, This is the best possible time to adopt. Right now.  Please. 

Thank you. 

For more information on our response to the fires and how to help, look here.

Again, a massive, enormous thank you to our donors, volunteers, fosters and staff who pulled together and made everything that has happened this week possible. You are heroes. Every single one of you. 

This was our lobby at 10 PM on Wednesday when the transfers rolled in. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Looking For The Helpers

This isn't our usual kind of blog but this hasn't been a usual kind of week, either. It seems important, after the news of the past week, to remember how overwhelmingly much good there is out there. 

So we have some really good news for you today: people are awesome. People are awesome and wonderful in big ways and small ways every single day. With so much sad going on, we wanted to showcase 'good'. We wanted to call out some heroes. We want you to share in our joy that amazing people exist and are out there quietly making miracles happen every single day.

This is Frank. If you've interacted with us in any way, you're probably within two degrees of separation from Frank and his wife Sue. They get around. If you've stopped by the front desk, he might have been the kind gentleman who answered your question. If your kids went to our education programs, he and Sue might have been the ones giving them a tour, answering questions with endless patience and kindness.

If you've been to our Petco West San Jose Neighborhood Adoption Center, you might have encountered Frank and Sue there, too. Our pocket pets - the hammies, the weet-weet piggies and snuffling, affectionate rats - have a special place in Frank and Sue's hearts. You can usually find Frank walking around with a fuzzy head poking out of his shirt pocket or Sue with a rat on her lap. These wee little pets can easily be the most overlooked and underrepresented kids we have and Frank and Sue make a special point of introducing people to them. Because that's what heroes do. They look out for the little guys.

Superhero movies are great but we don't need Batman or Superman. We don't because we have Frank and Sue and so very, very many more. How lucky are we? How great and beautiful and wonderful is our community?

We leave you this week with a quote from Mr. Rogers. Thank you, Frank and Sue, for being helpers. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Bad Hair Yearbook Photos and Great Dogs: Meet The Class of 2017!

Listen up folks! School is in session and these students are definitely the top of the class. They're such big dogs on campus that each of them has their adoption fees waived. Let's meet some of the Big Dog Class of 2017, shall we?

Cheese is good. So are squirrels. 

Most Likely To: Be the first one to die in a zombie apocalypse.  
Future Career: Shot girl at the dance club. 

Busy Izzy can be a little dizzy. Or a lot dizzy. She’s so happy and so eager to get the party started that she tends to be everywhere at once. An eager social butterfly, she loves to dart from person to person and toy to toy. Were we working on training? Is that a puddle? I must splash in it! A ball? I must chase it. A person? I must say hello. If you love to have fun and want a friend who knows how to wring the joy out of every moment, Izzy’s your gal. 


Most likely to drop out of a marathon after a quarter mile.
uture career: research librarian.
Elsa is a quiet gal with quiet preferences. She likes leash walks and yard time but
s no go overboard
here. She doesn’t mind other dogs and kids but would prefer
they take their fuss elsewhere. She’s the one who doesn
’t mind binge watching all
the seasons of Game of Thrones at once and is systematically working her way
through the NYT Bestseller list.

Most Likely To: Drop out of a marathon after a quarter mile. 
Future Career: Research librarian. 

Elsa is a quiet gal with quiet preferences. She likes leash walks and yard time but let’s not go overboard here. She doesn’t mind other dogs and kids but would prefer they take their fuss elsewhere. She’s the one who doesn’t mind binge watching all the seasons of Game of Thrones at once and is systematically working her way through the NYT Bestseller list. 


Most Likely To: Become president. 
Future Career: Diplomat. 

Titan is the one thing everyone can agree on: he’s wonderful and easy. Other dogs, big and small? No problem, he gets along with them. Dog savvy cats? He leaves them in peace. Small children? Those are fine, too. If Dwayne Johnson was a dog, he’d basically be Titan. The gentle giant is beloved by all. 

We have other pooches-of-stature who are also in the Class of 2017, also looking for new homes and also have their adoption fee waived. Meet there all here!

Most likely to drop out of a marathon after a quarter mile.
uture career: research librarian.
Elsa is a quiet gal with quiet preferences. She likes leash walks and yard time but
s no go overboard
here. She doesn’t mind other dogs and kids but would prefer
they take their fuss elsewhere. She’s the one who doesn
’t mind binge watching all
the seasons of Game of Thrones at once and is systematically working her way
through the NYT Bestseller list.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Test Drive Your Very Own Knucklehead!

The ever-popular backseat-grinning model. 
Ladies and gentleman, have we got a deal for you. We've got all sorts of knuckleheads in all models, ages and colors for you to take home on lease. And it will cost you nothing! That's right we said nothing, nada, zip. Totally free! We'll even provide the food and medical care!

Like this one right here - 
Such great lines! And dainty paws!
This is Marlin, a 2012 model Doberman. This baby has it all. Hiking? He's in. Jogging? He's in. This baby will look fantastic parked in front of your TV while you catch up all the new Netflix shows with him. He's got a roomy mouth that easily fits two to three tennis balls that he will repeatedly and happily bring back to you. He's great with older kids and promises to be fantastic company. Why are we asking for someone to test drive him? While he does wonderfully in the home, he's not such a fan of the shelter and is nervous and scared here. We'd love to see him happily ensconced in a foster home until he finds a permanent placement. Which is where folks like you - who can't commit to a full time dog - come in! Now doesn't that make you want to do a happy dance? 

Model does not include fantastic dance abilities. 
But wait - there's more! And that calls for another happy dance!

Fan of the blockheaded models? We've got all shapes and colors waiting to spend some time with you. If you like that sleek grey/blue look, Olive or Enzo might be the perfect choice for you. At five years old Olive has all the horsepower you need for hikes and jogging with excellent settle down capabilities. While she'll happily gear up for the athletic fun, she's a belly rub loving lump when it's time for cuddles. Another big plus? She's cleans up easily with a spray bottle or hose!

Olive has been with us for a while and she's pretty over being in the shelter. When you are that much go-go and love sponge in one sleek package you need a lot more that any animal shelter, even an awesome one, can provide. She's going to make some lucky person a great pooch but while she's waiting she'd be a lot happier in a home environment. 

And while we're talking about water...

Did someone ask if we had any amphibious models? If so, your answer is Sidney. Sidney is the epitome of knucklehead - she's adorable, she's loveable and she cannot stand shelter livin'. A 2016 lab/border collie/whatever model, Sidney is one hundred pounds of fun in a fifty pound package. She loves swimming, playing fetch and being out and about. She definitely needs some help being a little more civilized - her idea of hello is similar to linebacker tackle training - and it's hard for her to work on it here. Despite her social skills, she's been going to obedience classes and acing it. Which leads us to believe there's a lot going on in that pointy little noggin and that she's just bored and frustrated. 

Swim in all the water! All of it!
Okay, we'll come clean. All car-salesman antics and gimmicks aside, we really need foster homes for big pooches. We are chock full of awesome, wiggly, happy-pants mega-nuggets who really, really want to get out of dodge. While a forever home would be their first choice, sometimes that takes awhile. We get it. Heck, even Busy Izzy gets it and, to be honest, she can be a bit of an airhead at times.

I like cheese!
We also know there are a lot of people who would love to own a big dog but don't feel ready to commit to a lifetime yet. Maybe they  want to travel. Maybe they rent and are waiting until they own a house. Maybe they're just not ready for commitment. Whatever. But we thought hey, here's a perfect opportunity to enjoy a big dog, see if a big dog is right for you without actually having to OWN a big dog for however many years. Plus you'll be doing something really, really good for a knucklehead in need. 

Let's blow this popsicle stand. 
If you can foster a big dog, please email When you foster a dog we provide the food, vet care and everything until they get adopted. You just provide the love. So let's do this. And if you can't do it, let's share this and tag folks who might be able to. It's totally okay to put your friends on the spot. We promise. 

**Wait - if they're such great dogs why do you call them knuckleheads? We use the term knuckleheads as a term of endearment for our larger, goofier pooches who are prone to bursts of ridiculous enthusiasm such as zoomies, whole body wiggles, spontaneous jumping for joy and, in Marlin's case, ability to fit unbelievable amounts of toys in their mouths. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Suns Out, Buns Out!

We know, you're not a bunny person. We had to lead with the super sensational headline to get you guys to open this at all. After all, if you never had a rabbit why would you open it? Folks tend to think they know everything there is to know about pet rabbits but as a famous TV show once said...

To help everyone out, here's five reasons you need a bunny. And we're going to do this without puns about hopping or grabbing buns. Which is a lot harder than you would think. 

We are, however, going to pepper this post with adorable bunny gifs.

1) Bunnies Have A Perfect Schedule For Busy Professionals And Families. 

Myth: Bunnies are nocturnal and want nothing to do with you during daylight hours. 

Fact: Ready for your fancy new word of the day? Crepuscular. Buns are crepuscular, which means they're most active in the morning and in the evening. When you're home from work and wanting to play with your bun or chill out and watch Netflix with them, they're totally ready and on it. When you're ready for bed, they're ready for bed. When you're at work, they're having a snack, taking a nap, and thinking about all the cool stuff they'll do with their hooman when you get home. So basically they're a perfect fit for you. 

2) The Bun Is Smarter Than You Think. 

Myth: They're untrainable and don't do anything except sit and look cute.

Fact: They do sit and look cute, that's true. The other part is sheer hooey. Bunnies can be clicker trained and do all sorts of cute tricks. They can learn to play fetch, do basic agility courses, all sorts of cute tricks. And they work for carrots - literally. 

3) They're The Perfect Housemate.

They're neat. Most of our buns come litter trained - put a box in the corner and they'll use it. They believe in recycling more than you do - they'd love to give those toilet paper tubes another life as a toy. They can shred a box into the perfect size to fit in even a tiny recycling bin. They're quiet - no barking or meowing. They encourage healthy eating habits. If you're buying them some kale and carrots you might as well make yourself a salad as well, right? Perfect housemates. Way better than that strange dude you roomed with in college who threw beer cans in the garbage and left half eaten pizza slices on the stove. 

4) You Know You Want To Pat The Bunny.

So soft. So calm. Can't you feel your stress level going down just watching someone pat the bunny? Forget the desk sand gardens and weird little chimey bells: it's all about the bunny. Rabbits can be adorable, mischievous little nuggets that will keep you entertained for hours with their antics but they can also be soothing lap buddies and fellow TV binge watchers. If you think sitting on the sofa and patting the cat while watching an entire season of Orange Is The New Black is good therapy, you've never stroked bunny ears. 

5) You Are Still Reading This. 

Seriously, you're five hundred words in right now. If you honestly had no interest whatsoever in bunnies, would you still be here? The gifs are great (huge kudos to our alumni Dewey The Earless Wonder for helping with them) but they're not read-500-words-great. If you've made it this far it's probably a sign that you really want a rabbit. We can help with that. Take a look at our buns. And let's talk. 

Through September 3rd we've made bunny love even easier - adoption fees are waived on all rabbits!