Perfect time for a pet | May 24, 2013 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - May 24, 2013

Perfect time for a pet

Adoption fees waived next weekend at animal shelters

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Rosie looked sad and not just because she's a beagle. She was an older dog with a skin condition, and lived at Valley Humane Society waiting for her forever home after her first adoption didn't work out.

Then last year at the Maddie's Fund adoption event, a couple with a chihuahua mix came looking to add to their family, and Rosie's long ears perked up. Sure enough, they took her home.

"It was a match made in heaven," said Melissa Adkins, marketing and development manager at Valley Humane Society. "I think the gal was a school teacher so she would be home during the summer and could get the animals accustomed to each other."

Valley Humane adopted out about 70 dogs and cats last year and very few were returned, Adkins said.

Maddie's Pet Adoption Days are scheduled again for the weekend of June 1-2. The event started in the Bay Area in 2010 and has found homes for 6,722 shelter dogs and cats.

This year there will be more than 100 adoption locations throughout the Bay Area, plus five communities across the country including New York City for the first time, with a goal of finding homes for 5,000 dogs and cats.

Some shelters in the East Bay, including Valley Humane, also will be at Stoneridge Shopping Center to adopt out their dogs and cats.

Some people come to the event pre-approved, and many look over the adoptable pets the week before either at the shelter or at

"Then it's first come-first served," Adkins said. "There does tend to be a line, particularly on Saturday morning."

"Last year we had every one up on the website ahead of time," she added, noting that kittens may arrive at the last minute.

The adoptions are free during the event.

"Normally it is $100 for cats or $150 for dogs, but everyone goes home fee-free," Adkins said. "And everybody's going home with a goodie bag -- a catnip pillow or leash or whatever."

The University of Florida surveyed 1,928 adopters from Maddie's pet adoption events and concluded that successful adoptions do not require a fee; free adoption promotions such as these can increase adoptions without compromising the quality of a pet's life.

The shelters benefit from the adoptions during the event, with Maddie's paying from $500-$2,000 per animal, depending on whether they are a senior or have a medical condition that makes them more difficult to adopt.

"It goes all right back into our programs," Adkins said.

Valley Humane Society pulls adoptable pets out of public shelters to find homes for them. VHS is a no-kill shelter so once it takes responsibility for an animal it will find it a home as well as the best medical care available, which takes money.

Maddie's Fund founders Cheryl and Dave Duffield, who also started PeopleSoft and Workday, have pledged $4 million to pay the shelters for the adoptions during this year's event; participating groups have received $4.4 million since 2010.

The Maddie's Pet Adoption Days are exciting for the shelter workers, Adkins said, as they track each other's adoptions.

"It's like a marathon, it's really exciting to see," Adkins said. "Throughout the day we sent them pictures and our numbers on how many gone out so far. They put them out on Facebook and Twitter."

She said Valley Humane Society right now has more than 50 kittens in foster care with the mama cats, and more foster homes are needed, in addition to people to adopt the kittens -- and the moms.

One danger of fostering is that many end up adopting their first charge.

"We call them foster failures," said Adkins with a laugh, admitting that she was one.

Adopt a dog or cat for free

What: Maddie's Pet Adoption Days

When: June 1-2

Where: Valley Humane Society, 3670 Nevada St.; telephone 426-8656; hours during adopt-a-thon: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.

Other locations: Go to


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