Earlier this year, Friends of Oakland Animal Services heard from another inspiring local organization, Swords to Plowshares, asking if the shelter might sponsor an adoption for one of its clients, a veteran named Al. Al had recently lost his previous dog to old age, and although a model dog owner, he could not afford the adoption fee required by most animal welfare groups. FOAS agreed to sponsor the fee, and Al was able to meet and adopt Leggo, the pit bull puppy he had fallen in love with on OAS’ website. Veteran and pup began their new life together, leaving plenty of happy tears in their wake.
These joyful outcomes are not uncommon at Oakland Animal Services, or OAS. Staff and volunteers work diligently to match shelter animals with their perfect family. In some cases, this can take weeks or even months.
An example is Brynn, a highly energetic “pocket” pittie who had already experienced a series of hard knocks in her short life. Brynn initially came to the shelter as part of a cruelty case. She was found emaciated and caked in feces, with grossly overgrown nails. Shockingly, this resilient pup retained her sweet temperament. She was soon adopted only to return to the shelter a few months later as a stray with a mysterious eye injury that left her vision impaired but her loving nature still intact. During her second tenure at the shelter, Brynn had several prospective adopters pass her over until the fateful day at the Bay Area Pet Fair where she met her forever family: a young couple with another high energy dog. Not only was Brynn’s chemistry with her new sibling immediately apparent, but when her new dad was cautioned that her damaged eye might eventually require removal, he simply raised an arm in demonstration and replied, “I only have one hand and I’m fine. She’ll be fine with one eye. This was meant to be.”
Other times, the perfect placement occurs because of a highly motivated adopter like OAS supporter Zarka. Zarka decided to get a dog of her own after a serious health scare left her determined to initiate a fitness regimen but knew that her beginner’s pace might be incompatible with that of many younger dogs. Zarka visited the shelter religiously, perusing kennel card descriptions and taking dogs out for meet-and-greets, until one day she asked staff about the sweet-faced senior girl she had seen on the website. Upon their first meeting, Zarka saw herself reflected in the slightly weather-beaten but endlessly loving Jolene (now Goldie), and realized she had found the love connection for which she had been searching. These days Zarka and Goldie enjoy gentle exercise together during the day and contented snuggles at night.
And finally, sometimes simple fate plays a hand in matching animals to people. It all began with a tragic diagnosis: Susan’s kidneys were failing, and she would need a transplant in order to survive. Amazingly, a generous stranger named Michelle offered to donate one of her own kidneys after seeing the social media campaign started by Susan’s sister. Following the successful operation, Susan was back on Facebook. While quarantined at home, she stumbled upon an eerily familiar plea for help—there had been a Parvovirus outbreak at OAS and a number of puppies were in urgent need of medical foster homes. Since Susan had been interested in adopting a dog prior to her diagnosis, and the puppies needed to be quarantined just like her, she eagerly volunteered to take one and spread the word among her Facebook friends. Who else would fall in love with another one of the puppies but Susan’s own kidney donor, Michelle. Nowadays, Susan and Michelle still meet up so their pups (and perhaps their kidneys?) can say hi.
As the city of Oakland’s only open-admissions animal shelter (OAS takes in every animal in need regardless of age, temperament, health, or species), Oakland Animal Services’ duties are as diverse as the community we serve. Operating on the leanest of budgets, Oakland Animal Services oversees the city’s Animal Control Unit responsible for enforcing animal welfare and public safety laws, provides care for stray and surrendered animals, supports lost pet searches and reunions, and facilitates the placement of homeless animals via public adoptions and coordination with adoption partners near and far. The needs of the community are great, but so are the results of a job well done: enriched quality of life for humans and animals alike.
Cat Connor-Moore is an administrative assistant at Oakland Animal Services (Oakland AnimalServices.org). She can often be found changing cockatoo diapers, whispering sweet nothings to rabbits, or walking around Lake Merritt with her three-legged terrier mix.
Shelter Zone features a different shelter and rescue group each month. To contribute, contact Editor@BayWoof.com. Shelters and rescues are also invited to share photos and bios of adoptable dogs for the accompanying Doggie in the Window feature.
Doggie in the Window
At press time, these dogs were available for adoption at Oakland Animal Services, OaklandAnimalServices.org.
Taz is about 13 years old. She’s friendly and loves meeting new people. She leans for pets, scratches, and love. Come meet her if you’re looking to add a gentle medium-sized gal to your family.
Wilma is a young and energetic herding dog who’s smart and sensitive. She needs an adopter willing to provide daily running exercise, play time, and training to challenge her mind. It is recommended she go to a home with children older than 10 as she needs to work on her enthusiasm for life.
Duke is about as nice as they get. He loves people, is eager to please, and loves snuggling. Duke has been in a car with a volunteer, and he spent the time hanging out in the back seat just looking out the window. He is a very nice boy just hoping to find a home.
Peanut loves a good squeaky toy, but because he is so big, it is recommended he not be placed in a home with children. He is a big, goofy high-energy and playful dog who is just as handsome as they get.
Photos by Nathan Fowle, Oakocalyptic Designs