Bay Area shelters and rescue organizations couldn’t function without the tireless, selfless contributions of animal advocates and volunteers. These are devoted men and women who put the needs of animals foremost in their challenging jobs of finding forever homes for them. These folks cuddle puppies, clean kennels, walk dogs, help timid pooches shine, and jump in to lend a hand wherever necessary. They reliably and faithfully give their time and energy time and time again. Bay Woof salutes them in the annual tribute and gratitude issue this month. These are inspiring tales of individuals who know how to work successfully in animal welfare. Bay Woof is so grateful for your contributions—keep up the good work.
Charity Allison-Jara, Niles
Charity Allison-Jara is a special kind of volunteer. She brings an elementary school teacher’s patience and school-day structure to each new dog that joins BADRAP’s adoption program. Dogs and new volunteers always benefit from her kind focus and instruction. She has helped us introduce “Vick” dog fighting survivor Audie to children through live appearances at library book readings of the book Saving Audie, all done with the sensitive finesse of someone who understands how to broach the topic of humane treatment of animals to a young audience. And just when life seems to get a little too serious, she forced giggles out of all of us by sharing her baton-twirling talents during our annual march in the SF Pride Parade. The world is a better place with volunteers who give so much of themselves, and we’ve been especially blessed by the gifts Charity has brought to our corners.
Shah Awi, San Francisco
Shah Awi lives in San Francisco and holds a full-time job, but that doesn’t stop him from making time to help Wonder Dog Rescue’s foster dogs. His experience at the Selangor, Malaysia SPCA inspired him to continue helping animals, and he is truly tireless in this pursuit. Shah created and oversees our dog-walking program and also walks dogs regularly.You’ll see Shah at many of our special events, too, greeting people, talking about the dogs, and sharing his good nature with all that he meets. We can’t succeed in our work without volunteer support, and Shah makes a big difference. We’re grateful to you, Shah! Thank you so much.
Charlotte Campbell, San Leandro
Charlotte Campbell became a volunteer at the Hayward Animal Shelter in 2014, after retiring from her job as a computer systems engineer for a major U.S. bank, and she was recently recognized and honored as our Volunteer of the Year. She may be more of a cat person, but her commitment is a shining beacon for our dog volunteers, too. Dedicated and caring, Charlotte also volunteered at a local food bank before taking on more hours at the shelter and focusing her attention on the shelter cats. Rain or shine, Charlotte will catch a bus or even walk to the shelter every Tuesday and Friday morning to clean cat kennels. After cleaning, she spends hours socializing the cats, giving them playtime, exercise, cuddles, and love. Charlotte has a way with shy cats that helps them come out of their shells and become more comfortable with people, and she can bring out the best in nearly any cat. Charlotte also started an Adoptable Pets binder that she keeps updated and on display at local pet stores to promote shelter pets for adoption, and has adopted a cat (named Dolly) from the shelter. When she is not volunteering, Charlotte enjoys knitting, crocheting, going on long walks, and of course, spending time with her own cats at home.
Genie Castro, Petaluma
This year, I would like to nominate Genie Castro. Genie started off as a volunteer who walked the dogs. She took on the position of volunteer coordinator and has implemented so many positive changes for our organization. She initiated sign-in sheets, a volunteer phone tree, and an email tree. She is responsible for keeping the volunteer slots filled with the most capable people. And in her spare time, she comes to the sanctuary on her off days to take the pups walking off campus. Genie is the first person to offer to drive a dog to a vet appointment, and she is always willing to promote Lily’s Legacy via the media. She is a treasure to work with and an incredible asset to the structure of Lily’s Legacy. Genie saved the day on at a recent pet fair. She offered to bring Deli, a dog that had been at Lily’s a very long time, down and walk her around. I was afraid the commotion would frighten Deli. Genie said she would bring her home if that happened. Well, Deli got adopted! She found her forever family in the midst of all the chaos. Yeaaa, Genie! Just one more thing she has done to benefit Lily’s Legacy
Diane Douglass, Saratoga
Diane Douglass is one of our foster home all-stars who has been assisting Furry Friends for five years. She helps oversee the adoption showcases, serves as an adoption counselor, web loader, and event lead volunteer. Diane’s dedication, professionalism, flexibility, and tenacity, make her a trusted and responsible core team member. No matter the obstacle, she always gets the job done. We are so grateful for her help, friendship, support, and passion to help save abandoned dogs. Diane and her family, (husband Steve is pictured), fostered senior sweetie Suzy, a 12-year-old golden retriever mix, giving her the much-deserved TLC she needed. It didn’t take long for Suzy to capture their hearts, and they adopted her as a forever-family member.
Terry Evans, Martinez
Terry Evans is involved in almost every aspect of our organization, giving 50 hours per month of his time for the past six years. He manages our Animeals program, which collects and distributes pet food/supplies to low-income pet owners in Contra Costa County. He runs the Animeals “pantry,” and every week, works with groups of special-needs adults to repackage the donated food. Terry supervises the distribution of the pet food three times a month at Food Bank locations, and does all the record keeping. In addition, Terry has a regular weekly shift providing hands-on care for our resident cats in Kitty Corner. He has fostered many sickly kittens that thrive in his care. He has worked in our Spay Neuter Assistance Program, SNAP, helping low-income pet owners arrange very low-cost surgeries. Terry does all of these activities with great, contagious enthusiasm, personal warmth, and a fabulous sense of humor. We know we can count on Terry whenever help is needed, and he is always fun to have around.
—Carol Ann Quigley
Marylou Farahbakhsh, Watsonville
It’s been four years since Marylou Farahbakhsh started volunteering with the Santa Cruz SPCA, and we consider ourselves, and the animals, fortunate to have received so much of her valuable time. Marylou’s volunteer interest began with fostering animals, but quickly morphed into time spent with the animals at the shelter. She then shifted her focus to helping at the SC SPCA Adoption Center in the Capitola Mall. Every single week, you can find Marylou behind the cash register, arranging displays, chatting with visitors, cleaning animal pens, coordinating potty walks, and transporting animals to and from mall and shelter. Even when she’s away from the Adoption Center, she’s still working for the animals. As a knitter for years, Marylou decided to blend two of her favorite pastimes and thus created a beautiful (and always growing!) collection of dog sweaters. Her cozy creations are sold at the Mall Adoption Center with all proceeds going to the animals. And we shouldn’t forget to tack on dog groomer and rescue transporter to her volunteer résumé. It’s just so awesomely clear that Marylou is a valuable part of our organization and her versatility, dedication, and love for the animals is a true gift to the Santa Cruz SPCA.
Mary Fong, Richmond, and Marnie Hamilton, Oakland
Mary Fong and Marnie Hamilton have volunteered over 7,000 hours at Oakland Animal Services. Their efforts and advocacy have helped us place thousands of small dogs who enter Oakland’s only open-admission shelter. They work tirelessly to socialize, prepare for transport, photograph, and vaccinate the animals, and work with our team to make the best placements for the dogs, often driving them to transports themselves. They are always enthusiastic and a joy for our staff. Mary has volunteered since 2010, and Marnie has volunteered since 2008. The Oakland Animal Services volunteer program is currently recruiting volunteers—let us know your skill set, and we will match you with an opportunity!
Amy Goddard, San Francisco
Smart, generous, and dedicated, Amy Goddard always comes through for her “noodles” or the dogs at Family Dog Rescue. Amy joined our organization in December and immediately stood out for her willingness to work with some of our more challenging dogs. She jumped into a Supderdog squad, where she worked tirelessly to get Atticus adopted. Atticus was a “blue dot,” which means he had some behavioral issues, and only the most experienced volunteers could handle him. Amy’s love for him was apparent, and her direct work with him helped him find a forever home. She loves walking dogs as much as she enjoys hanging out with them in their kennels just cuddling. Amy also goes above and beyond to lend her expertise to our organization through her marketing-powerhouse skills. She contributes her time and knowledge and her support helped us reach our annual Cancerversary campaign goal in just 40 days, a new record for us. We are so grateful to have Amy as part of our family.
Kathy Hentges, San Francisco
San Francisco Animal Care & Control
Kathy Hentges has been a volunteer with Animal Care & Control for the past five years, and we hope she’s part of our team forever. Kathy is a dog volunteer at our shelter, and has branched out to do so much more to help our animals. Besides walking dogs, she mentors new volunteers, is an adoption assistant volunteer (making great matches between shelter dogs and new families), manages the shelter Twitter account, manages quarterly microchip clinics, fosters dogs, and has great ideas about how to market shelter animals—some have even gone viral. She fosters dogs when we need help, like when Ponch, the famous Bay Bridge Dog, needed a place away from paparazzi, or when a Puppy Bowl player broke his leg and needed to heal. Kathy is always ready to help, with great energy and a wonderful attitude. Thank you, Kathy Hentges!
Meghan Kirby-McFarland, Menlo Park
Meghan Kirby-McFarland has been with Copper’s Dream for over six years. On top of working a demanding full-time job, she always finds time for the dogs at Copper’s Dream. Our go-to for social media, website design, adoption events, and community outreach, she will jump into basically any area when needed. That even includes middle-of-the-night lost dog searches. Always bringing a positive attitude and fresh new ideas, she keeps Copper’s Dream moving in the right direction. Copper’s Dream and all the dogs that come through the rescue are lucky to have Meghan on their team working tirelessly to get them the better life they deserve.
Kelly Lo, Milpitas
If Kelly Lo looks familiar, it’s because you might have seen her on the TV news showcasing animals for Humane Society Silicon Valley. It’s just one small thing that the seven-year volunteer and tireless hero for homeless pets does for us. Despite working a demanding tech job, she also finds time to foster both dogs and kittens, teach children in our education program, give tours to corporate groups, and does segments on the local news with adoptable animals. Despite doing so much, she pours her heart and soul into every single thing she does. As a foster parent, she’s famous for taking her temporary charges on beach outings. Pets going to news appearances also get treated to lunch at pet-friendly restaurants. Her dedication to providing homeless pets with a touch of familiarity during transitional times in their lives is inspiring. There is only one Kelly Lo, and we are so lucky she’s ours.
Carole Matteri, Redwood City
We can’t say enough good things about Carole Matteri, our 2015 Volunteer of the Year. Carole resides with her husband in Redwood City and practices medicine with the medical offices of Lannin & Matteri in Palo Alto. She helps in the kitten nursery, with our foster care program, and at the Pick of the Litter. Carole is happy to jump in wherever help is needed. She works tirelessly in the kitten nursery from the beginning of the season to the end, providing support and love to some of the youngest animals in our care. Willing to take on any project, big or small, she is an integral part of the Kitten Nursery team. Carole fosters many litters of kittens each season and always volunteers to take the most difficult cases, caring for them with kindness and skill. Carole helps each week at the thrift store, sorting donations and working in our designer clothes section. She is the spearhead and inspiration for our Pick of the Litter fashion show, Secondhand Chic, and plays a huge part in the production of the event. Secondhand Chic would not happen without her efforts. Her work with the thrift store and the fashion show directly benefit the animals in our care, including dogs. Carole Matteri is truly deserving of our 2015 Volunteer of the Year award.
Dina Robinson, San Francisco
For nearly two years, Dina Robinson has devoted the one spare moment in her busy workday to helping our senior dogs. Five days a week at 1 p.m. Dina walks through Muttville’s doors and spends her lunch break walking, bathing, cleaning up after, and loving the dogs at our facility. Dina is one of those extraordinary volunteers who radiates positivity wherever she goes, no matter what she’s doing (even if it’s mopping up a huge mess while she is wearing her fancy office clothes). You can hear her laugh ringing through the halls at Muttville. It’s impossible not to smile when Dina is around. Dina’s support extends beyond her weekday volunteer shifts; she’s also the first to raise her hand to help when we have a large event or need extra assistance during adoption events. Dina makes Muttville tick, and it’s volunteers like her that have made it possible for us to save over 4,000 senior dogs in the last nine years.
Sharon Silbert, Tracy
Meet Sharon Silbert. Sharon has been fostering puppies, adult dogs, and moms and puppies for Tri-Valley Animal Rescue, or TVAR, for four years. However, she has been in rescue for 20 years. Sharon is tireless in her devotion to the dogs and puppies (along with her husband, Rick). Each and every dog gets so much love and attention, and they all adore her. Years after she gets one of her dogs adopted, the moment they see her, they are excited beyond belief to see her. Sharon does a fantastic job of looking for the right home for each and every dog. She also has so much patience working with potential adopters, ensuring that they learn as much as she can impart about the dog’s personality, needs, and traits. And Sharon is always happy to share training tips that she’s learned over her many years in rescue. Thank you, Sharon Silbert, for all that you do for so many deserving dogs and puppies.
Tom Tilton, San Francisco
The SF SPCA would like to honor Tom Tilton, a longtime dog volunteer who helps us out multiple days of the week by preparing our shelter dogs’ food in addition to his regular weekly dog-walking shift of newly taken in dogs. Tom has five regular weekly feeding shifts for our shelter dogs, including two weekend days. This is roughly 315 to 380 bowls of food each week that Tom prepares for our animal care associates to distribute. Tom has logged over 1,100 hours as a volunteer at the SF SPCA since beginning in 2014. He also has a regular dog-walking shift each Friday morning in our Shelter Medicine department, helping to get dogs out for potty breaks and some sweet Vitamin D and sniff time in the Mission. Tom is an incredibly kind, caring, and dependable person. His humor and hard-work ethic make him an indispensable presence on our volunteer team, and we are so lucky to have him. He goes with the flow and remains positive about situations—two necessary attributes in a fast-paced shelter setting. Go, Tom!
Bill Tuschall, Menlo Park
Next month will be Bill Tuschall’s 10th year as a dedicated shelter volunteer here at Palo Alto Animal Services. He lives in Menlo Park and volunteers every week to walk and socialize our shelter dogs. Bill has a special and remarkable relationship with dogs. Even though he’s a super tall guy who wears huge glasses, he wins over some of the most nervous of dogs. I often catch him sitting on a bench with a calm, content dog of any size on his lap. He’s like their security blanket. Bill helps us keep everyone in good spirits until a forever home comes along. That’s what I call a butterfly effect.
— Sachi Hwangbo
Marti Zuckrowv, Oakland
Marti is a former dancer who now does the two-step and much more with shelter dogs. She’s an outstanding volunteer—more than anyone could ever ask for. She has generously shared more than 6,000 volunteer hours with the East Bay SPCA over the last eight years. Thoughtful, compassionate, and dog savvy, Marti regularly volunteers as a behavior and training assistant, working with dogs that need special attention. One of the best things about Marti, though, is that she doesn’t discriminate with her generosity. She pitches in to help any dog (or human!) that needs her. She scoops poop, does laundry, and assists with adopters. She takes high-energy dogs out on long walks around the park and neighborhood. She sits quietly in kennels helping frightened pups come out of their shell. She does it all. Everyone needs a Marti.
Main article photo by: courtesy BADRAP, of Charity Allison-Jara