by Karen Zamel, SJAA Volunteer
After recently attending the Best Friends No More Homeless Pets Conference in Jacksonville, FL, I realized that I owe a debt of gratitude to Best Friends – and to San Jose Animal Advocates – for helping me get involved in animal welfare. Both groups have helped me grasp the complexity and urgency of saving lives: reducing the homeless pet population, increasing fosters and adoptions, implementing TNR (trap, neuter, release), improving shelter environments, changing policy and practice through education and fact. Both groups have encouraged involvement without judgment or anger, but with hope and optimism. Both groups have emphasized community and partnership – between people and organizations, cities and states. Best Friends’ new call to action sums it up perfectly: together, we can “Save Them All”.
While learning about the numerous challenges and opportunities, I’ve been introduced to literally hundreds of groups, thousands of people, countless organizations, and an abundance of local and national resources all dedicated to saving the lives of companion and community animals.
We’ve included links to many of these resources
on our SJAA website – information on: losing or finding a pet; low-cost spaying and neutering; emergency vets in San Jose, wildlife rescue; low-cost vaccines; dog rescue; fostering or adopting a pet; trainers; and more. You can find help and information on many other websites, including bestfriends.org
, the national Humane Society website
and the local Humane Society Silicon Valley website
. Conferences, like the Best Friends events, are great opportunities for education, networking and inspiration.
The journey to becoming a more active animal advocate has touched me in ways I didn't expect. I've had the opportunity to help pets in need – a gift in and of itself – but I've also learned how to be a better guardian for our own pets – the cats we’ve adopted, animals we’ve fostered and placed – and pets we will help in the future. Together, we can save them all.
by Samuel & Brenna Silbory
On Monday, a stray dog was hanging out by the dumpster behind our row of condos. It stared hungrily through the car window, watching Brenna as she drove by on her way to a meeting at work.
All of its ribs were showing. A long, unsecured tether stretched out behind it. No human was around.
Brenna got that unpleasant feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you know you're about to do the right thing, and you know it's going to be a pain in the butt.
That dog would move on if nobody fed it soon. There were a lot of places nearby where an exhausted, starving dog could curl up on a hot day, and hope to wake up to something better.
And maybe never get up.
So she called Sam.
That may sound like cowardice, but the truth is that Sam is the dog person in the family. The idea of rescuing a stray would make Sam's day. And he'd know how to do it. Whereas the idea of rescuing a stray makes that unpleasant feeling in Brenna's gut settle in for the long haul.
With a little bit of food in hand, Sam led it to our backyard. It was emaciated. Its ears were chewed up, probably from flies. Somebody had tied a rope around its neck. The rope had rubbed its skin raw over the white patch on its chest, probably from the dog's effort to escape. It had other wounds, too - a cut here, a scratch there. It had ticks and fleas.
And then, there were those ribs.
This dog is a survivor.
In spite of the obvious neglect, the dog was also very friendly. He didn't cower from Sam in the manner of a dog used to physical violence. If anything, he demonstrated an easy going, "Sure, dude, whatever you say," kinda nature, even when Scamper (aka Little Miss Mayhem) let it be known she didn't like having a strange dog in HER backyard. Indy objected loudly to not being able to greet the new dog properly. (Admittedly said greet would last 5-10 seconds then the dog would be uninteresting...)
After some water and food, the dog followed Sam eagerly enough into the car. It knew how to walk on a leash. It knew how to sit.
Sam drove it to San Jose Animal Care, where he volunteers regularly. While it seemed unlikely anybody would claim the dog (without serious questions about animal neglect, anyway), the dog clearly needed medical attention and more care then we could give it during the week.
Besides, we can't afford to bond with a third dog. Where would we put it? WE CAN'T ADOPT THIS DOG, DAMMIT.
So we called it Dog X. You don't have to worry about bonding with something called Dog X, right?
Over the next week, Sam followed the dog through his contacts at the shelter. The dog was eating. The dog was getting de-flea-ed. The dog was getting medical care. The dog was getting some dental work. The dog was getting its behavioral tests. The dog was getting fixed.
Then, yesterday, it was official. The dog had passed all its tests. The dog was adoptable. Here. Take a look. http://www.petharbor.com/pet.asp?uaid=SNJS.A842448
They had the nerve to name it Manny. How Dare They.
Then, today, against her better judgment, Brenna joined Sam when he went in for his volunteer shift at the shelter. Against her better judgment, she took some photos of the two of them together.
You'll notice how pleasant the whole thing is.
Then, against her better judgment, she joined Sam in petting the dog,
and scratching him,
and feeding him.
by Deb Codiroli, San Jose Animal Advocate volunteer Sprung from the shelter & en route to foster mom.*
According to the Humane Society of the United States, “Nationwide, only about 20 percent of dogs in homes come from shelters - the rest come from other sources.” Falling. In. Love.
For folks involved in animal welfare, this is pretty shocking. We tend to think that everyone knows the importance of adoption...the evils of buying from pet stores. Somehow, many, many people still believe that dogs adopted from shelters or rescue groups are inferior.
If Banjo could talk, he’d tell you otherwise. It’s difficult to beat his success story.
Banjo is an International Dog of Mystery. He was found wandering the streets of San Jose (I suspect amnesia) and wound up at the San Jose Animal Care Center.
You could tell by looking at him he was neglected: underweight, skin sores all over his body, and one doozy of an ear infection. He was plucked out of obscurity under the aegis of St. Francis Animal Protection Society. I posted his head shot on my Facebook wall in hopes one of my animal loving friends would be able to see the handsome beast of dog underneath his worn exterior.
My friend, Claire, clearly had an eye for a diamond in the rough as she signed up to provide a safe and loving foster-to-adopt home. I picked him up at the shelter and transported him to Claire and her boyfriend, Brooks in San Francisco.
The rest, as they say, is history.
After Banjo, Claire and Brooks got over a mutual period of adjustment, the active juices began to flow (well, in his case, it was pee) and the friends embarked on many adventures together.
Banjo + Claire kicking it pretty hard.
Getting coffee at our favorite coffee shop was the right move, my friends.
Bright, witty, and the life of any party.
Being adorable is such hard work.
Singing in the car. Loudly. Off-key.
But in spite of his diminutive size, Banjo was too much dog to be contained on land. He needed to hit the water.
Walking on the dock of the bay watching the tide roll away.
Claire and Brooks were responsible for the drudge work part of yachting: hoisting up sails, rigging some jibs.
Banjo got the glamour job, barking “Oh Captain! My Captain!”
I’m on a boat!
Boating around the bay just didn't cut it for Banjo. Threatening to go on strike and refusing to appear in any more life vests, he presented Claire and Brooks with a list of demands, including being top dog on a bike ride around town. He had his humans under his little paw.
IT’S ON LIKE DOGGIE KONG!
“Biking, schmiking”, Banjo said next. He had energy to burn and needed more adventures. Paddle boarding, bridge sightseeing, banjo jamming… he did it all.
Banjo, 1 - Golden Gate Bridge, 0.
Banjo says, "Live the life you have dreamed and rescue a dog!"
The fluff is strong in this one.
*Note: RIP Sheryl Cumine. Banjo loves you for holding him in the car as we drove him from the shelter to his foster family.
Blog Posts prior to June 2013 can be found here.