The annual Bay Area Pet Fair & Adoptathon took place Oct. 11–12 in San Rafael with more than 60 rescues and shelters bringing animals seeking forever homes. It wasn’t just about cats and dogs, either —hamsters, guinea pigs, rats, chickens, a rooster, and a tortoise were among the 758 animals adopted during the weekend event (Saturday saw a record-breaking 400 adoptions). Pet Food Express, organizer and major sponsor of the fair, recruited dozens of animal supply and service companies to help support the event and offer product samples; there were also demonstrations from police K-9 units, Splash Dogs, Tillman the skateboarding bulldog, and more.
The fair allows a full week to finalize adoptions to give people who are “thinking about it” time to decide if they’re really ready to adopt, and to make certain that the adoptions produce solid forever homes. There were numerous touching stories, including two hound dogs abandoned as a pair and adopted as a pair — to a family with a 100-acre ranch; two pit bulls that had been at their shelter for six months who got adopted together; a dozen dogs and cats over the age of 11 found homes; and six Pet Food Express employees adopted new family members, continuing an annual tradition. One of the most remarkable stories came from FurEver Animal Rescue (fureveranimalres.org) and an old English bullmastiff named Meatball.
When the Superstorm Sandy emergency shelters were being closed in March 2012, FurEver flew six dogs to California, and Meatball, who had spent five months in a temporary shelter in a New York gymnasium, was one of them. Despite his good nature and striking appearance, he was continuously passed over, usually because people couldn’t have such a large dog where they lived. FurEver had Meatball for two years — and then they brought him to the 2014 Bay Area Pet Fair & Adoptathon. The event provided Meatball with the exposure he needed to meet the right person. He went home on a trial basis with his potential adopter to be sure it was the right fit. It was, and Meatball’s homeless journey finally ended with a perfect forever home.
Of the eight million dogs and cats entering American shelters each year, more than half are euthanized. While many believe “it’s all pit bulls and Chihuahuas,” in reality over 30 percent of sheltered animals are purebreds. If you’re considering buying a dog at a pet shop, you are supporting puppy mills, because that’s where pet shops get their stock. If you have your heart set on a certain breed, please consider breed-specific rescues and your local shelter before buying from a breeder. If you think the dogs at these rescues and shelters are all older or have behavioral issues, you’re wrong. Someone I know recently adopted a black-and-white 7-month-old Newfoundland puppy from a rescue (the owners had lost their home and couldn’t keep the dog).
Even the breeds du jour like French bulldogs and “hybreeds” du jour like goldendoodles, can be rescued: Pet Food Express co-owner Michael Levy adopted his young Frenchie, Winston, from a French bulldog rescue; and Wolf and Lion co-owner Spyq Sklar found his goldendoodle, Molly, at the city’s open-door shelter, San Francisco Animal Care and Control (ACC). And, of course, after losing my beloved Jazzy to cancer in 2012, I adopted my beautiful blue nose pit bull, Skylar Grey, from ACC when she was just a wrinkly, squishy-faced, adorable 8-week-old puppy — and now she has her own column right here in this newspaper.