Peninsula Humane Society found homes for all adoptable animals in 2010 despite 7 percent increase

BYLINE: By Tenzin Shakya San Mateo County Times

Despite a 7 percent increase in animals surrendered to the Peninsula Humane Society in 2010, officials said the shelter was able to place 100 percent of adoptable animals into new homes for the eighth consecutive year.

In 2009, an estimated 2,955 pets were surrendered by owners who were no longer willing or able to care for their animals. In 2010, that number grew to 3,162.

There were 3,749 animals adopted from the center in 2010, of which 3,077 were dogs and cats. The others were small domestic animals.

“The numbers really don’t tell the story. The story is in the relationships we form with them” said shelter president Ken White. “They are living, sentient beings who add so much to a family and really ask for very little back.”

Rachel Evans, 40, of Burlingame adopted her current hound-mix dog from the shelter in 2007.
“It’s been a great and wonderful experience,” she said. “I named him Lucky, but really I’m the lucky one.”

Evans said she was not surprised by the increase of homeless animals arriving at the shelter.
“We hear a lot of sad stories about people having to move to a new place where they couldn’t have a pet,” she said. “The upkeep can get challenging sometimes, especially in this economy.”

Stephanie Halliday, 30, of Foster City started volunteering at the shelter when she was a teenager.
“Every animal deserves to have a loving home, and since I can’t take them all home with me, I want to help them find their forever home,” she said.

The shelter has an open-door policy that allows animals with medical conditions to be placed in care. Currently, it has five veterinarians, 14 veterinary technicians and more than 1,400 volunteers who dedicated more than 135,000 hours in 2010.

Mark Borson, 52, of San Mateo adopted two dogs from the shelter while volunteering there.
Though Borson’s 8-year-old dog has medical insurance, his 15-year-old dog was declined. “It’s a good idea to plan ahead with health insurance for your pets before they become seniors,” said Borson.

Pet care costs for dogs range from $1,314-$1,843 annually for the first year, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Medical bills could go even higher depending on the dog’s breed, heredity, pre-existing conditions and age.

“It’s best to prepare for things that are unplanned for,” said Borson. “A $300 bill could be astronomical for some, but for others it’s just another expense for the family.”

In addition to achieving the 100 percent adoption rate last year, the shelter investigated nearly 600 animal cruelty calls. “No dog is ever ignored,” White said. Society’s 2010 highlights
Getting fixed: 6,583 spay/neuter surgeries performed at the shelter’s low-cost clinic plus an additional 1,091 in the shelter’s mobile clinic, which provides free “fixes” in targeted communities.

Total number of spay/neuter surgeries was 7,674. Back to nature: 1,290 wild animals rehabilitated, then returned to their natural habitats. Training: Three classes of dogs graduated from the TAILS program, a partnership with the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office which pairs shelter dogs with inmates in a minimum security facility for eight weeks.

Saving animals: Rescued more than 1,000 animals from harm’s way, including dogs stuck in traffic, down horses, ducks trapped in storm drains, and deer snared in fencing.

Total number of animals adopted during 2010
Total number of cats placed in new homes during 2010
Number of dogs adopted, a 7 percent increase
Number of rabbits, birds and other animals adopted

A second look @ the homeless around the corner!

Standing by her shopping cart, tired, dirty and winded, the homeless woman with a stack of newspapers walks slowly to almost everyone in the passing only to find them walking away from her with strange looks mixed with some shy awkward smiles.

She has her dirty blonde hair tied up with a thick black sweater and torn jeans in the middle of Shattuck, Downtown Berkeley- that also on a sunny Sunday morning when almost everyone is in smiles trying to enjoy the day.

“Please take a paper and spare some change”… “I have not had anything to eat today,” said the poor homeless lady trading newspapers for dimes at a busy corner.

Curious to know her story, I stood next to her and traded a quarter for a paper.  The newspaper was titled Street Spirits. According to their website, its a “publication of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) that reports extensively on homelessness, poverty, economic inequality, welfare issues, human rights issues and the struggle for social justice. For the past 10 years, Street Spirit has been dedicated to empowering poor and homeless people and giving a voice to the voiceless, at a time when the voices of the poor are virtually locked out of the mainstream media.”

Her name was Joann Knott, 46 years of age and a single mother of a 16-year-old boy. The two were living in a nice house back in Detroit, Michigan just five years ago before becoming homeless in Berkeley.

Ms. Knott was employed as a “Professional Petitions Consultant” with a firm that works to organize and operate petition drives for organizations wishing to gain support on bills introduced in the area.

Ms. Knott arrived in California four years ago in pursuit of a job as a Professional Petitions Consultant here, and hoping to start her own business.

“Berkeley and the Bay Area in general is highly active in the process of creating petitions for voters in demand of various changes in the law,” she said.

“I thought I could easily land a good job in the local market.”

However, despite her numerous attempts to secure a job here, she failed and instead ended up spending all her money and became homeless.

Though Ms.Knott is homeless, she is still in pursuit of a job in Berkeley and interns at the local chapter of Peace Action West to advocate for nuclear ban and peace.

“I’ve protested against nuclear weapons since the early 60’s and it was my fortunate luck to able to intern and get paid at Peace Action West” she said.

Peace Action West is an organization dedicated to building a citizen’s movement of sustained political power for fundamental changes in United States foreign policy. They are also one of the largest grassroots peace and justice lobby in the country.

According to an article in the American Journal of Public Health, over 7% of persons living in the United States, which equals 2149045.85, have been homeless (defined as sleeping in shelters, the street, abandoned buildings, cars, or bus and train stations) at some point in their lives.

Testing those statistics, I walked across to the café shop to a man sitting outside with a cup of coffee, and his New York Time puzzle on the table. After a few minutes of explaining my project to him, he agreed to talk to me.

“Homelessness in Berkeley is at rise because this city is so liberal and keen to paying for the homeless,” said the 36-year-old Wells Fargo Banker Marcus Reading.

“Why should we support a bunch of people that just sit around downtown begging for money, when the rest of us are working our butts off” he said.

Ms.Knott has her son enrolled at the Berkeley High School where there is funding available for families without homes.

“The diverse range of people here is what makes the city of Berkeley attractive and the people are just too nice” she said. “They never let you go hungry”.