How many years have you been involved with animal rescue?
I began in rescue over 23 years ago, working with Nancy Ford, a Boston terrier rescue person (thus, my love of Bostons!).
What are the upcoming events for Wonder Dog?
We hold adoption events and are open to the public every Saturday at our office at 2926 16th Street in San Francisco. We also meet people individually by appointment. All of our dogs are in foster homes, so we only gather as a group once a week. All events are posted on our website, www.wonderdogrescue.org. We do not have any benefits scheduled at this time, but stay tuned and check our website often.
How did you get involved with rescue?
I was thinking about adopting a Boston terrier back in 1990 and got the number of the rescue from San Francisco Animal Care and Control. I didn’t wind up adopting a dog through Nancy, but we continued a lifelong friendship. In those days, everything was done on Rolodex cards. Nancy knew everything about Bostons and pugs, and most of what I learned in those first 10 or more years came from Nancy. I am sad to say that she passed away last year after a long illness.
Tell us about your organization.
Wonder Dog Rescue is an 11-year-old nonprofit organization. Before that, I founded Bay Area Boston Terrier Rescue, which was breed specific. Today, we have evolved to being a rescue that doesn’t rescue only Bostons, because there are so many other needy animals at the shelters. We specialize in the rehabilitation and placement of dogs with physical disabilities, very timid dogs, and senior dogs. We have a strong following on the Web and on Facebook, and find a great outpouring of support for those dogs who are at gravest risk of being euthanized because of disabilities or timid behavior. We love senior dogs, too, and keep senior dogs in hospice care to the end of their lives.
Can kids get involved with Wonder Dog?
Yes, we love it! One of our volunteers is 12, and she’s been volunteering with Wonder Dog for more than three years now. We have an informal after-school program once a week where the kids get to interact with the dogs while doing homework and hanging out. It’s a win-win situation.
Besides the after-school project, do you have any other special programs?
We are currently outlining a new program that will place dogs with veterans living with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). This will be a comprehensive program, where both the vets and the dogs get the training and support they need to make it together. We’re so fortunate to have the commitment of a trainer who specializes in this work. The program will be free of charge to participants.
What is the biggest challenge facing your rescue right now?
We have reached a point where we need to hire a full-time administrator to manage the flow of calls, inquiries, and paperwork. Finding the funding for this position has been a challenge. Of course, we do not want to divert funding away from the animals. But our ability to function as a vibrant organization necessitates a strong administrative presence. Finding the funding support is our goal for 2014.
Our other challenge is finding long-term foster homes. The number of animals we can save is directly tied to the available foster homes. We provide good support to the foster parents, and match them with a dog who is compatible to their living situation. Increasing the number of available foster homes is another major challenge and priority for Wonder Dog.
What is a short-term foster home, and how can it make a difference?
A short-term foster home is one that will take the dog for a week or two. They are incredibly important, because just getting the dog out of the shelter can be the difference between life and death. Once the dog is in foster care we can fully evaluate the medical and behavioral needs. This isn’t always done at the shelters. We look at the euthanasia lists of shelters and have to sometimes make a snap decision — live or die. Knowing that I have, say, six open foster homes means that I can say yes to six of those dogs. So the more foster homes we have — short- or long-term — the more dogs we can save.
One stellar woman stepped in to help a pregnant beagle-Boston mix named Betty at the Stockton shelter. The puppies are going on 1 week of age, and all are doing well. This woman has committed to fostering the litter and mom until the pups are 8 weeks old, when they are weaned and can be put up for adoption. We couldn’t have taken Betty without this woman’s support.
What is the age range of the dogs at Wonder Dog right now?
There is a wide variety, actually. We have a wonderful foster home that specializes in puppies and whelping moms, and she takes in or oversees the fostering of the youngsters. We have young adult dogs and many older dogs too, so the age range right now is 1 day to 14 years!
What are some of the breeds you have available for adoption right now?
We recently took in eight Boston terriers from a hoarding situation. They are currently in foster homes, where they are being evaluated and retrained to prepare them for loving homes. When we rescued these Bostons, they lived outdoors in cages. Therefore they’ve all needed help with house training. Some of them become frightened when their foster parents leave for work. It’s understandable, given their prior situation. Providing professional training and support to our foster homes will enable this transition to happen as smoothly as possible, and make sure those loving new homes are forever homes.
We also have two sweet adult pit bulls, a few other Boston terriers, some puppies, and a few middle-aged dogs. Most are small dogs.
A dog I’d really like to see adopted …
Brutus, a 4½-year-old Chihuahua we rescued from San Francisco Animal Care and Control about nine months ago. Because he is being fostered outside of the city he doesn’t get the visibility others receive from being at mobile adoptions. Also, let’s face it … tan Chihuahuas aren’t that popular these days. But Brutus is amazing! His foster mom is a trainer who has been doing “nose and scent” work with him (this is the layman’s version of what search and rescue is about). He is housebroken, well trained, and he does really fun tricks!
A dog who is a great success story …
Cricket is my most recent wonderful success story. I received a call from the Turlock shelter about a Boston with paralyzed hindquarters. As soon as I saw her photo I knew we just had to help her. Cricket’s back legs are paralyzed, but she uses her chest and front legs to lift the hindquarters off the ground when she walks. We all fell in love with her sweet disposition, but I had a feeling I’d be keeping her, as you can imagine that very few people want a severely disabled dog. Well, I was wrong. Within a few weeks a former adopter contacted us about bringing a new dog into their lives. They told me that they’d learned so much from their dog, Sterling, and this time they wanted to adopt a dog with special needs. Within minutes of meeting Cricket they were certain that she was the dog for them. Today, Cricket lives in the Watsonville area. She has two dog companions, a wonderful yard, and a loving home. She goes on hikes with the family in a front carrier; she’s a real part of the family, and I couldn’t be happier.
Where can people go online to find out more, see adoptable dogs, volunteer, foster, or donate?
To Donate: www.wonderdogrescue.org/donate
Contact us at: [email protected]
To foster: [email protected]
Wonder Dog Rescue: 2926 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103, 415-621- 3647