When senior Chihuahuas Porter and Jasper arrived in Oakland from the North Bay in October, they were dressed for success in matching wool sweaters and jeweled collars. The bonded pair had been surrendered to the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter by an owner whose landlord no longer allowed pets. The dogs were safe during the blazes, but the North Bay shelter needed to send them to Oakland after the fires to clear space to house pets that were lost, evacuated, or separated from their families.
The East Bay community’s response to fall disasters including the fires was prompt, enthusiastic, and characteristically full of heart. In September, just before Hurricane Irma, the East Bay SPCA also accepted 40 animals from Broward County, Fla., and donors, fosters, and volunteers met the challenge to help the transferred animals. And in August, when the East Bay SPCA shared a link to donate to the Houston SPCA following Hurricane Harvey, almost 400 people clicked to donate directly to that shelter.
In the week of the fires, the East Bay SPCA accepted the two senior Chihuahuas and 98 other dogs and cats from North Bay shelters. All were checked for microchips and behavior or medical needs that might prevent adoptions. As seniors, Porter and Jasper received an extra-thorough senior screening with full blood work. For most shelters, a bonded senior pair of anxious dogs with behavior and medical needs, and a note that they should stay together, might be considered difficult to adopt.
But the two 10-year-old Chihuahuas were lucky: They had landed in a shelter whose medical and behavioral staff could create a customized care plan to address their needs. Behind the scenes, the East Bay SPCA’s Travers Family Compassion and Care Center hosts more than double the animals available for adoption in the Oakland shelter’s public adoption area. Unique in the East Bay region, the center offers extended care for animals that need to resolve behavioral or medical issues in preparation for adoption. Because the East Bay SPCA never euthanizes for time or space, the animals in the Travers Family Compassion and Care Center can take the time and care they need to adjust behaviors or improve their health before they are put up for adoption.
Shelter staff, volunteers and foster homes quickly helped all the transferred animals adjust to their new shelter habitats and stays in private homes. More than 90 East Bay SPCA foster volunteers opened their homes to take in dogs and cats displaced by fires. Jasper and Porter briefly went to a foster home in Piedmont and shed their jeweled collars and wool sweaters for East Bay weather and its more casual vibe. Other foster families hosted longer stays for dogs and cats who would need to adjust to new lives in the East Bay.
Of course, the real mission of East Bay SPCA is always to serve the animals here in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. End-of-year holidays see peaks in adoptions as families have time at home for new pets during the holidays.
As one of the few nonprofit animal welfare organizations offering affordable public veterinary services, the East Bay SPCA can access the broad knowledge and expertise of its own veterinarians and behaviorists to serve animals at The Travers Family Compassion and Care Center and help animals that might be turned away or euthanized at other shelters.
Allison C. Lindquist is president and CEO of the East Bay SPCA. She has spent about 20 years working in animal welfare. Before joining the East Bay SPCA in 2006, she served as assistant director for 10 years with the Oakland Zoo. She holds a bachelor’s degree in zoology from Ohio Wesleyan University. Her pack includes rescued Chihuahuas and a pit bull, four alpacas, and way too many spoiled chickens.
A Closer Look
The Travers Family Compassion & Care Facility at the East Bay SPCA debuted in October, and it includes:
• A medical support room where veterinary and support staff monitor and administer to the needs, medications, and care of all shelter animals averages case volumes of up to 90 animals per day.
• Wings comprised of 54 kennels for dogs with isolated airflow to prevent the spread of infectious disease, parasites, and bacteria.
• Four wings comprised of 30 habitats for cats, also with isolated air and water flows to check the spread of disease, parasites, and bacteria.
• Full isolation areas for dogs and cats recovering from treatable but contagious diseases, parasites and bacteria to reduce the potential for illness among other animals.
• Separate dog and cat intake areas with a separate entry to allow full examinations of all incoming animals before they join shelter animal populations.
• A foster animal intake and distribution area where 350 active local volunteers pick up animals, such as underage or under-socialized kittens and puppies or dogs and cats recovering from surgery. Foster volunteers open their homes to provide 24/7 care to the most vulnerable animals away from the shelter environment.
• An army of on-site volunteers who walk dogs and socialize cats during weekly shifts, assuring socialization, stimulation and tender loving care.
Doggie in the Window
At press time, these dogs were available from the East Bay SPCA. To see more animals and to learn more about these dogs, visit EastBaySPCA.org/adoptions/adopt-me.
American Pit Bull. I am a single, young man looking for a stable and furever relationship. I love to play outside and that’s where you’ll really see my personality blossom. Fee waived.
Chihuahua, male. I love to spend time snuggling on laps, and I am super social with other doggie friends. My perfect home would have a nice backyard. My adoption fee is waived!
Santa’s Little Helper
Chihuahua mix, male. I’m a happy little guy, with a curly pug-like tail. I came from Sonoma County, which opened space at the shelters during the North Bay fires. I like laps and do well with other dogs. Fee waived.
Pomeranian, female. I have a sparkling personality to live up to my name. I’m tiny, fluffy, cute, and just a joy to be around. I’m a mature dog, about 8 years old, but I have plenty of energy.
English Bulldog/Boxer mix, female. I’m a naturally playful and trusting canine with a nose as busy as you can imagine, and I’m always curious about the neighborhood news. I’ll help you keep your resolution of getting more activity.
Main article photo by: Courtesy EB SPCA