NPO profile
News: Editors
Humane Disaster Relief Flies Dogs to Safety

So many hopeful stories of goodwill and humanitarianism are emanating from the tragic circumstances caused by Hurricane Harvey and Irma—good people lending a helping hand in difficult circumstances. We were pleased to find out that our neighbors, the Berkeley Humane Society, have stepped up to assist a Florida shelter prepare for the anticipated disaster heading their way with the arrival of category 4 Hurricane Irma.

Yesterday we visited the Berkeley Humane Society that has just returned from the airport where they picked up 50 dog and cat evacuees from the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale. A number of humane organizations outside of Florida are coming to the aid of shelters helping to “clear” the decks in anticipation of Hurricane Irma. We are proud that our neighbor, who is just down the road from our offices, more than doubled their population with these new arrivals. We visited the shelter shortly after the dogs and cats arrived, and the animal care volunteers were busy taking tallies, and making sure that their new guests have their needs met and have settled in. We were shown around the shelter facility by executive director Jeffrey Zerwekh and Tom Atherr, director of development & communications who generously give us time to tell us about their work and introduce us to the new arrivals.

This Ft Lauderdale-to-Bay Area mission was organized by Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) in nearby Walnut Creek, that also took in a large number of the animal evacuees, along with the East Bay SPCA and the Berkeley Humane Society. The remarkable organization Wings of Rescue provided the airplanes, piloted by volunteer pilots with GreaterGood.org, Freekibble.com and the Rescue Bank helping to pay for the flight. All told, more than 175 cats and dogs were evacuated. Ric Browde with Wings of Rescue noted that, “we wanted to be proactive before the storm and get as many of the animals as we had at the shelter out of the facility.” Christopher Agostino, President and CEO of the Humane Society of Broward County added, “This is a tremendous undertaking and we are grateful for all our partners making this possible. We want to be prepared as much as possible for after the storm and to be able to help our community.”

The rescue flight, with a stopover for refueling, took 10 long hours, with most of the dogs taking it in stride. During our visit, many of the dogs came up to the front of their enclosures to sniff and greet us. The BHS has a full veterinary facility on premise which helps make it an ideal partner in this evacuation project. The shelter medical staff was on hand to review medical records and make sure that everything was in order. The shelter will be arranging foster homes for many of these southern transplants, recognizing that dogs do much better with foster families paving the transition to forever homes. BHS will be waiving the adoption fees in order to help expedite the adoptions of these animals, said Altherr, but welcomes donations, be it online or in person, to help cover the shelter’s costs. “Berkeley Humane is grateful that we are in a position to help animals that were at risk and are now safe. Doubling our animal population with only a few hours notice is difficult and a significant drain on our resources, but we know what we have to do and we are confident our community of volunteers, adopters, and donors will participate in these efforts,” added Zerwekh.

Zerwekh explained that the Broward County people were extremely well-organized and were making evacuation plans, and lining up out-of-state shelters, in anticipation of Irma. Being able to clear their shelters means that the Broward people, in turn, can open their doors to the animals that will be needing assistance during and after the upcoming storm. The Florida shelter evacuation follows another recent transfer of animals from Texas shelters to nearby Oakland. Fifty dogs and 20 cats arrived in the Bay Area via a private jet, thanks to efforts by the San Francisco SPCA, Mad Dog Rescue, Muttville Senior Dog Rescue and the Milo Foundation. The animals were flown in and slated for adoption in order make room for the many pets that got lost during Hurricane Harvey.

It seems that so many lessons, on the humane front, were imparted during Katrina and recent disaster relief efforts. It is wonderful to see that the nation’s humane network, stretching across state and regional boundaries, coming together to assist this long-distance rescue and evacuation collaboration.


Dog's Life: Humane
Paw Fund: A Compassionate Model for Helping At-Risk Pets.
Pawfund Founder Jill Posner

WHEN A DOG OR CAT is surrendered to a shelter or dies of a disease that could have been prevented, some want to blame the owners. If they couldn’t care for the animal, they should never have gotten it in the first place, right?

But people’s lives can change in an instant; jobs end, children get sick, families lose their homes. A national survey conducted in January 2016 found that six out of 10 Americans couldn’t cover an unexpected $500 car repair or $1,000 medical bill.

That doesn’t leave much slack for the family dog. Paw Fund, a San Francisco Bay Area nonprofit founded five years ago by animal advocate and longtime activist Jill Posener, has very deliberately disconnected from the blame game. Preventable diseases, uncontrolled breeding and overflowing shelters are crises not just for pets and owners, but also, for our communities as a whole. That’s why Paw Fund provides the pets of homeless and low-income residents of Alameda and Contra Costa counties with free vaccinations; free or low-cost spay and neuter; basic wellness care, such as dewormers and flea preventives; and sometimes even nail clipping. The goal is what Posener, Paw Fund’s executive director, calls “harm reduction.”

“The truth is that relatively small interventions can keep dogs and cats healthy, in their existing homes and out of the shelters,” Posener says.

It started in 2011, when an outbreak of canine parvovirus raced through the camps of homeless youths in People’s Park in Berkeley. Parvo is easy to prevent, but making sure their pets get a series of vaccinations can be challenging for street kids. Posener sprang into action. She recruited a vet tech, loaded vaccines into her car and took the lifesaving shots right to the animals who needed them, week after week, until the epidemic abated. And with that, Paw Fund and its harm-reduction approach was born. People trust Paw Fund to be there for them without judging them, and Paw Fund trusts its clients to truly need its services. “We don’t ask for proof of income,” says Posener. “People feel bad enough when they can’t provide for their pets. We don’t need to rub it in by making them prove they have no money.”

The Paw Fund model seems to work, and it’s catching on. It’s not unusual to find 80 people and up to 150 pets at its monthly open-air clinics in Berkeley, patiently waiting as long as two hours in the sun, rain or Bay Area fog. Since its founding, Paw Fund has provided care to more than 5,000 at-risk dogs and cats, coordinated more than 1,500 free or low-cost spays and neuters, and given more than 10,000 free vaccinations at its monthly clinics and pop-up clinics in trailer parks and inner-city neighborhoods across the East Bay. It also mentored two startup organizations with similar goals in Brentwood and Oakland that are now self-sustaining.

Traditional rescue per se isn’t Paw Fund’s primary mission, but sometimes, people beg to surrender a basket of puppies or kittens. When that happens, Paw Fund often persuades the owners to spay or neuter the parents, and picks up the tab.

Many people want to have their pets sterilized but literally can’t make it to the vet appointment. They may be afraid to take time off from work, or don’t have a driver’s license, or live under a freeway overpass. Paw Fund volunteers will pick up a dog or cat at the crack of dawn and deliver the animal back after the procedure. That kind of block-by-block, pet-by-pet outreach led the City of Berkeley to award Paw Fund the contract to run its free spay/neuter program in 2016 and then to extend the contract into 2017.

Paw Fund, a 501(c)(3) based in Emeryville, Calif., is staffed largely by volunteers; vets, vet techs and even a tax preparer work pro bono. In 2017, plans include hiring a part-time medical director to oversee clinics and to make home visits and treatment possible, including humane euthanasia at home. Because, no matter how rich or poor their people are, every pet deserves to live as healthy a life as possible and then to go peacefully when the time comes.

To learn more visit pawfund.org

Culture: Readers Write
300 Shades of Grey
A Greyhound Gathering

Calm your breathing, don’t get too excited. The truth is, 50 Shades of Grey has nothing to compare with the 300 Shades of Grey about to gather in Kanab, Utah from May 8th to May 10th. Strolling the streets—beckoning to be stroked—will be the long, slim legged beauties with lean faces, and sharp eyes that pierce the soul. Heavy petting is the rule, palpitating hearts and drooling is permitted during the one-of-a-kind 2015 Greyhound Gathering.  

Founded by Greyhound devotee Claudia Presto, the Greyhound Gathering is intended as a celebration and fund-raising event assisting recognition and rescue of this gentle, athletic and very beautiful breed. If Cleopatra believed Greyhounds were to be prized as elegant companions, why should we argue? The history of the breed is unusual and fascinating; ranging from their special place in Egyptian culture, through their great popularity in Greece (Greek and Roman mythological figures were frequently portrayed with Greyhounds as companions), and into the Dark Ages when ownership of Greyhounds was the exclusive right of the nobility and no “meane person” (meaning people like you or me) could dream of possessing one. They were the first featured breed in English Literature, and during the Renaissance they were the most common dog used in heraldry.

Their history here in America hasn’t been as delightful. Greyhounds were first introduced in America in the late 1800s to keep down the rabbit populations on farms. Chaucer had been right in praising the Greyhounds for being “as swift as fowls in flights,” and racing competitions soon became common between farmers. By the early 1900s, the artificial lure had been invented and Greyhound racing was an official sport. The many dogs that don’t make it to the track and the dogs needing to retire after their brief lives in the fast lane are at terrible risk. Popular events like this Greyhound Gathering are raising recognition of their need for adoption; and raising awareness of the loyal, adoring nature of these gentle athletes who wouldn’t mind becoming couch potatoes in a loving family home.

Claudia herself is the perfect example of a convert to Greyhound-ism.  Escaping from the pressures of a very well paid and stressful corporate job, she took her Afghan hound to Vermont for an obedience class. As her dog sat stubbornly under a shady tree admiring the view but refusing to participate, Claudia saw her first (well-behaved) Greyhounds. That day was her “ah-hah” event, and within a few years she was leaving her job in New York and driving her new Chevy pickup west with Slim, her new Greyhound buddy, keeping her company. Now she’s “the slave of the Greyhound Gang, a non-profit labor of love that will get me into Doggie Heaven and brings me immeasurable joy on a daily basis.”

Others get to share her joy now when they come to Kanab to play over this special 3-day weekend. The Costume Parade on Saturday is the most popular event for viewers and participants. Over 300 hounds from across America will strut their stuff down the center of town while Elvis croons “Hound Dog” from the Announcer’s Stage: ”well they said you was high-classed…”  Dogs arrive in unbelievably imaginative costumes like Grey-ola Crayons, a Greyhound Bus, a prison gang, cowboys, a cluster of grapes (you’d have to see it to believe it), and on it goes. Claudia doesn’t believe in awarding prizes “because greys have been killed for not winning,” but instead, every costumed hound and human receive recognition in categories like “Who is Tutu Too-Too Pink.” Other wacky wonderful special events include the Blur of Fur Runs, a Yappy Hour (muzzles to the sky for a communal hound howl known as the Greyhound “ROO”), Greyhounds Got Talent, speakers, artisans, caricature drawings, agility demos and plenty of other food, fun and frolic. During the event, Best Friends Animal Society will be giving special tours of the sanctuary just seven miles outside the center of Kanab.

“His eyes, warm but piercing, rivet you to the spot. Forget about shopping. Forget about 4-wheeling today. Forget about anything but him. He’s sleek, stunning, and unbelievably beautiful. You put a tentative smile on your face, and carefully reach forward with your fingers—hesitating, waiting for his response. You are now face-to-face with him. Will he let you touch him on the strong curves of his elegant face? Now he is leaning forward, his tongue slowly extends to lick the tip of your nose and his dark, gentle eyes blink in approval.”  Taken from 300 SHADES OF GREY; you can write your own chapter after joining us at the Greyhound Gathering.  

If you are a Greyhound owner and would like to join the events as a participant, please go to: www.greyhoundgang.org. If you are interested in visiting Kanab during the Gathering, and want more information on places to stay and things to do please go to: www.visitsouthernutah.com.