Tuesday, June 2, 2020

How Koda, Our Rottweiler Rescue, Survived Canine Parvovirus

We’ve been hearing a lot about viruses these days, but Parvo (canine parvovirus) is one that threatens dogs — especially puppies. Underdeveloped immune systems and lack of vaccine in young dogs make them especially vulnerable to this life-threatening disease.  

It is highly contagious and spreads through direct contact with an infected dog or by indirect contact with a contaminated object. It’s classified as an intestinal disease, but can also affect bone marrow, lymphopoietic tissues and potentially the heart. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), certain breeds including the Rottweiler are more susceptible to the disease.  

The good news is that parvo is preventable with vaccination and can be treatable in many cases, but only with intensive and immediate medical care.  It’s a cautionary tale (or tail)...not every puppy survives the ordeal.  

Meet Koda, a four-month-old Rottweiler puppy who was surrendered to MedVet Silicon Valley after she was diagnosed with parvo and related complications.  MedVet contacted SVPP to rescue her and, with heartfelt commitment, SVPP did.  

Medical care is required around the clock for parvo puppies who have to be quarantined with the highly contagious condition. In isolation, Koda received IV fluids and oral medication and was fed through a nasogastric tube since she couldn’t keep down any food.  She didn’t have the energy to stand or play, definitely not the sign of a healthy happy puppy.  

After six days of constant care by the dedicated MedVet staff, Koda began a steady and welcomed recovery, eating on her own, gaining strength and showing the clear signs of a puppy on the mend!  Today, Koda is in foster care and getting ready to find her forever family.  She will live happily ever after! So, how do we eliminate this threat so other puppies are not at risk?  

Fully vaccinate your puppy.  According to SVPP board member and vet, Dr. Stacy Hare, this is typically a series of at least three vaccines, and sometimes more in breeds particularly vulnerable to parvo. Until your puppy is fully protected, limit exposure to public places and don’t visit areas where lots of dogs have congregated or walked.  Don’t take your puppy to a dog park or pet supply store until immunization if fully complete. 

Additionally, adopt your puppy from a reputable source so that you know about the puppy’s health and history.  If your puppy shows any suspect symptoms, like lack of appetite, vomiting, lethargy or diarrhea, seeing your vet immediately could be a life-saving act!

Karen Zamel is a long-time SVPP volunteer and is now a member of the communications team.




Monday, April 20, 2020

Celebrating Canine Fitness Month During COVID-19

By Alandea Muñoz

To help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Bay Area residents have been ordered to
stay home and avoid all non-essential outings until at least May 3rd. Fortunately, stepping out for fresh air and exercise is not only permitted, but encouraged, as long as we practice social distancing. Lucky for us dog lovers and our furry best friends, this means extra opportunities to enjoy our natural surroundings while staying healthy and fit together. It also creates a great and simple opportunity to support SVPP!

In celebration of April being Canine Fitness Month, here are five scenic dog-friendly trails that are open during the Bay Area’s shelter in place mandate.

  • Los Gatos Creek Trail: This 9.7 mile recreational trail can be accessed by you and your on-leash canine companion via many different starting points in Los Gatos, Campbell, Willow Glen or San Jose. Enjoy a leisurely stroll, brisk walk, or jog with your dog along the tranquil Los Gatos Creek, one of Santa Clara Valley’s last remaining urban streams that serves as flood protection and an important water resource for the area’s plants and wildlife. The trail connects to Vasona Lake County Park, where you can take in the beauty of the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains and the colorful wildflowers in bloom.
  • Santa Teresa County Park: Tucked away just ten miles south of downtown San Jose, this park offers 15 different trails for all fitness levels, ranging from 2.4 to 8.3 miles for you and your on-leash pup to enjoy. It’s the perfect way to experience some peace and quiet away from city life without leaving Silicon Valley. You’ll likely even see some wildflowers and grazing cows to complete the experience!
  • Almaden Quicksilver County Park: The former home to more than 1,800 quicksilver (better known as mercury) miners and their families for 135 years, this South San Jose park is rich in history and also offers more than 34 miles of on-leash dog-friendly trails ranging from 2.6 to 16.1 miles.
  • Pearson Arastradero Preserve: On-leash dogs are welcome at this open space in the heart of Palo Alto, which offers more than 10 panoramic miles of trails, ranging from 1.5 to 5.2 miles each, for you to explore. Note that the Arastradero Preserve parking lot is currently closed, and there is no parking allowed along Arastradero Road or Page Mill Road, but trails remain open, making this a perfect getaway for Palo Alto residents with dogs.
  • Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve: A hidden gem in Redwood City, this preserve is currently open on weekdays only, with on-leash dogs permitted on all trails, including the area’s typically off-leash dog area. Take your pick from six miles of trails offering stunning views of the San Francisco Peninsula and the surrounding hillside.

No matter where you choose to get fit with your dog, remember to follow the proper protocols to keep you and your loved ones healthy and safe. Walk solo or hike with members of your household, maintain a six-feet distance from people you don’t live with, wash your hands before and after your outing, and bring hand sanitizer if possible. Take advantage of the natural environment near your home without venturing too far away, and avoid peak times and crowded areas. Bring plenty of water for you and your pup so everyone stays hydrated. And, double check that the trail you want to visit is open that day, as the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve daily. 

Whether you opt for two blocks or two miles, be sure to log every walk on WoofTrax, the free iOS and Android app that makes it easier than ever for you to support SVPP while staying fit with your dog! Simply download the app, select SVPP as your charity of choice, and track every walk to collect points and automatically fundraise. The more “active walkers” (users who log their walks at least once a week) there are walking as part of the SVPP community, the greater the donation! Even if you aren't currently a dog parent, you can still participate!

Thanks for doing your part to flatten the curve in the Bay Area, while keeping your canine fit and supporting SVPP. Happy Canine Fitness Month! 

Alandea Muñoz is an SVPP volunteer, content contributor and devoted dog mom.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

We Can All Save Pets in this Difficult Time

At SVPP, we are rescuing an extraordinary number of pets from the San Jose shelter right now. In fact, we've rescued 25 dogs, cats and kittens since March 1. But, the strain on the
system is immense. Due to Covid-19-related public health mandates, the municipal shelter is closed to the public. Pets that normally would have exposure, human interaction and adoption opportunities are now hunkered down in shelter facilities while humans work to flatten the coronavirus curve. So, we are rescuing en masse.

A good chance for these pets to have a loving forever after is to get them out of the shelter and into foster care. A better chance is to keep them out of shelters all together.  

Here are some steps we can take to make sure we don't increase shelter intake at this difficult time.
  • Make sure your pet is chipped.  This is the best way to insure that a lost pet can be reunited with its owner. Most vets and many local low-cost vaccination clinics provide this life-saving service. A microchip is painlessly inserted in your pet and the its unique ID number, along with your contact information, is registered with a national pet database. Check to see if your vet or clinic can provide the service at this time.
  • Consider fostering, especially if you are working from home.  The need is immediate and the options are great — dogs, cats, kittens — whatever pet best works for you, your family and your space.  You can even foster to adopt. Think of it as a heart-felt test drive! 
  • Life plan for your pet. Determine, in advance, who can step in to care for your cat or dog in the case of illness or some other circumstance that renders your normal care unavailable. Ensure that the person of your choice is comfortable — and committed — to following through if needed.
  • If you have to rehome your pet, use the many resources available to get your pet situated with another loving family vs. surrendering it to a shelter and putting it at risk.  SVPP has a page of information and resources on its website.  It turns out that one of the best opportunities to rehome a pet is with NextDoor.com, a website and mobile application that allows you to connect and communicate with neighbors in your local community.  You can post photos, have on-line discussions, meet potential adopters, and maybe even rehome your pet with someone in the hood. Another great rehoming resource also listed on the SVPP website is adoptapet.com.  The experts at Adopt-A-Pet and the Petco Foundation provide a process that can help owners rehome their pets.  Adopt-A-Pet is the country’s largest non-profit adoption website.

Most importantly, in this stressful and challenging time, be there for your pets and each other.  We can save more lives together.

Karen Zamel is a long-time SVPP volunteer and is now a member of the communications team.








Thursday, February 27, 2020

Governor's Proposed Budget Can Help Make California a No-Kill State

Last month, pets and politics made the news. In January, Governor Gavin Newsom rolled out his fiscal budget for 2020-2021 and as part of it, proposed $50 million to make California a no-kill state.  The money would be awarded to the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program over a five-year period and would provide shelters – across the state – the training and resources needed to transform their organizations to no-kill.
The need is greater and more urgent than most of us realize. Best Friends Animal Society is carefully and publically tracking euthanasia rates across the country in its effort and mission to “Save Them All.”  It turns out that California still euthanizes more than 100,000 pets per year, second only in the nation to Texas.  Importantly, the governor’s proposed effort focuses on underserved and under-resourced shelters in the state.
We, in the Bay Area, will certainly benefit from this effort.  We all win when pets are rescued and lives are saved. But how do rescues who have had to be highly reactive — pulling pets with time running out — evolve to remain relevant and stay involved in the process of eliminating pet homelessness?  
SVPP was started in 2015 with that context in mind.  Since the bay area culture believes in, supports and works toward no-kill, we’ve worked to envision and develop an organization that interactively involves the community – in saving lives, making sure adoptions are a good fit, and building the relationship with owners and their pets after adoption occurs.  We focus on education, outreach, providing accessible resources, and pet/people involvement. Pup Plaza and our roster of activities there is our flagship example of enabling community engagement.  All of these activities, in the end, support our mission of saving lives and ending homelessness.
But, not every community is as far along on the no-kill continuum and the governor’s budget proposal — if enacted — can help change our state-wide statistics. The budget will be revised in May, the legislature has until June 15 to approve it, and the Governor has until July 1 to sign it into law. Once that happens, the money will be available to make a difference to shelter pets – who don’t need to be at risk.  
So, what’s the call to action here?  Call or email the Governor, your state assembly member and senator today.  Tell them that you support the proposed funds to make California a no-kill state!
Blogger Karen Zamel is a long-time SVPP volunteer and is now a member of the communications team.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Happy "Change a Pet's Life Day" on January 24!


January 24 is “Change a Pet’s Life” day.  This “holiday” inspires me because it’s a fundamental part of SVPP's mission — to change pets' lives. We do it by rescuing at-risk cats, dogs and kittens from the municipal shelter, providing the medical and emotional care they need and finding the best possible forever home where they can thrive. At last count, SVPP had rescued 1,190 pets since the organization's founding in 2015. How amazing is that?

The good news is that it’s a two-way street.  While we work to change the lives of at risk pets, they are also changing ours.  It’s empirical for me, but also scientific. According to many sources, including  Fetch by WebMD, there are multiple health benefits to pet ownership.  Pets can help lower blood pressure, improve mood, reduce depression, improve fitness level, assist with heart health, strengthen the
immune system and provide support in coping with various medical conditions. How's that for a good start?

In my own experience, pet fostering and adoption has provided some of those benefits and more… a profound sense of purpose, heart-warming satisfaction for improving an at-risk pet’s circumstance and a heap of gratitude that we are able to make a difference.  For me, this adds up to a more meaningful life. 

As we begin 2020, consider making an impact on a pet's life by volunteering, fostering a pet in need, donating to organizations that do this important work, or by sharing the joys of adoption with your friends and family. Let’s do this with a renewed sense of wonder at the impact we are having on pets' lives...and the impact they are having on ours.

Visit svpetproject.org for information on fostering, adopting and related resources.

Karen Zamel is a long-time SVPP volunteer and a member of the communications team.










Thursday, October 31, 2019

Feline Engineering Joins the SVPP Team

“Cat behavior can change!” asserts Jessica Char, cat behavior expert
and founder of Feline Engineering.

Jessica Char, Feline Engineering Founder and
Cat Behavior Expert 
That’s music to my ears.

As the owner of three feline frenemies — two of whom can barely co-exist — it’s amazing and hopeful to know that these three might be able to achieve détente.

Jessica is working with SVPP to expand its cat- and kitten-related programs and support. She is providing educational material and handouts, redesigning and enhancing educational resources the SVPP website — both cat and dog topics. She has launched a cat-focused educational series at Pup Plaza, talking about cat happiness and answering community questions. The first session held last month, “Cat Lovers Chat,” was a resounding success for cat owners wanting to improve pet quality of life.

Feline Engineering's Jessica Char teaches
Sandy how to high-five as part of her
behavior-based training.
“People think that if cats are a certain way, that’s it and they’re stuck. Dog owners know they can work on their dog’s behavior through training, but most cat owners don’t,” Jessica says. “There is help, and people have options to address the challenges they are facing."

Jessica comes to SVPP with great experience and perspective. She first became interested in cat behavior after serving as a volunteer and then employee of the Humane Society Silicon Valley. She started with a focus on dogs and then, because of staffing challenges, expanded to kittens and cats. Discovery inspired her.

“Knowing a little about what a cat needs – play, height…a cat that’s ready
to attack you through the cage, with a few modifications, is completely
social. People have choices and options and can embrace cats the same
way they embrace dogs.”

Cat Lovers Chat was the first of a feline-based educational
series held at Pup Plaza recently.
After leaving the Humane Society, Jessica started her business, Feline Engineering. She provides education and private consultations, and applies a pragmatic approach: “real-life solutions that people can embrace.” These solutions can include environmental assessment, enrichment recommendations, guidance on how to work through conflict, and more.

In addition to private practice, Jessica wanted to be part of a rescue non-
profit that actively engaged with and supported its community. Enter SVPP and a community that is invited to embrace these new resources.

What's next for SVPP and Feline Engineering?

“In the longer term, we want to look at the possibility of helping adult cats in the community,” Jessica says. “Kittens are adopted very quickly, but adult cats don’t have that luxury. They are often in limbo with long foster or shelter stays. The goal is to get them into a different model — and into their forever homes faster.”

Questions for Jessica? You can email her — jessica@felineengineering.com — or visit the Feline Engineering website.

Our blog author, Karen Zamel, is a long-time volunteer for SVPP and now a member of the communications team.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Puppies with A Purpose: Guide Dogs for the Blind

By Amy Yasukawa
I have always had a love and passion for dogs and community service, and knew that one day I would love to merge the two together. I was very excited when I discovered the organization, Guide Dogs for the Blind.

When I was in preschool, only big enough to sing the alphabet, my teacher was diagnosed with a rare disorder, causing her to become blind. It was devastating, but she wanted to remain independent, so she eventually received a dog from Guide Dogs for the Blind, in San Rafael, CA. Attending her graduation and seeing her guide dog made me realize how rewarding it would be if I could raise a guide dog for a blind person.

When I was a freshman in high school, I eagerly contacted a local puppy raising club and attended its bi-monthly meetings. Never owning a dog, I was extremely excited and could not wipe away the gigantic smile from my face with the thought of receiving a dog to train.

For about a year and a half, it would be up to us to help a puppy learn the necessary basic skills to then go back to Guide Dogs for the Blind for formal training. There, the dog would have further schooling and would be paired with a blind companion who will put his or her trust with a new guide.

The time finally came when I would receive my first puppy. Riding through the streets of San Francisco and across the Golden Gate Bridge, my mom and I finally reached our destination. I saw a big, bold, shiny sign that read, “Guide Dogs for the Blind National Headquarters.”  It was an image that will forever be in my mind. There, I was presented with a playful eight-week-old Labrador retriever puppy. It was love at first sight for both my puppy and me as we both eager for the journey ahead!

Raising a guide dog is a lot of work, but also full of joy. Even with all of the hardships, I found myself proud of what my puppy and I had achieved. We went on many exciting adventures like out to restaurants, stores, movies, beaches, and rides on buses, trains and planes. That way, the puppy is exposed to a multitude of sights, sounds, and smells.

When it’s time to part, although a tearful goodbye, there will always be many fond memories I will cherish, watching our adorable eight-week old fluffy puppy to a mature and confident dog who will improve the quality of someone’s life. Knowing the wonderful service the dog will provide is the most rewarding and fulfilling feeling a person can experience. The sense of pure confidence, appreciation, and peace when a blind companion grasps the harness of the guide dog is something I will never forget.

Editor's Note: Amy was SVPP's summer intern who amazingly and at a young age — discovered a passion for animals and the value of fostering a service pet who would support and love someone in need. Amy has returned to class this month at Seattle University in Washington and plans to graduate next year.