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Valley Humane Society broke, may close

Original post made on Jul 27, 2011

The Valley Humane Society, a 25-year-old nonprofit animal welfare organization that just moved into a new $1.3-million building, announced yesterday that it is out of money and may close within the next 30 days.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, July 26, 2011, 9:08 PM

Comments (31)

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Posted by Apples
a resident of Country Fair
on Jul 27, 2011 at 8:28 am

Really hate to see this go down. I'm hoping they can have a fundraiser to keep the building and the ongoing efforts to care for animals.

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Posted by mooseturd
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jul 27, 2011 at 8:34 am

mooseturd is a registered user.

Before you donate or support this organization, you should go to the national org's website and read about their efforts to stop all animal based medical research. The surgeon that took out your appendix probably trained on an animal model.

"We're working to decrease and eventually eliminate harm to animals used in research and testing through policy efforts, work with scientists, and public outreach."

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Posted by Emily W.
a resident of another community
on Jul 27, 2011 at 9:13 am

Sad news!

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Posted by Lori Rice
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jul 27, 2011 at 9:31 am

Valley Humane Society is not affiliated in any way with nor do we receive any funding from the Humane Society of the United States.
Lori Rice
Board President, Valley Humane Society

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Posted by Volunteer
a resident of Charter Oaks
on Jul 27, 2011 at 9:34 am

This is a wonderful organization. We used to volunteer for them many years ago so have seen first hand how much they care for the animals and offer to our community. I hope they are able to raise the funds and stay open.

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Posted by previous donor
a resident of Castlewood Heights
on Jul 27, 2011 at 9:52 am

I have donated lots in the past but cannot believe that they decided to appoint the current director to run the organization. (Comment removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff for containing unverified or personal information.) Maybe she could work without a salary and help out the organization. Seems to be a lack of judgment to build a large facility in these economic times.

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Posted by A donor
a resident of Livermore
on Jul 27, 2011 at 10:16 am

No organization is perfect. Working constructively toward improvement with the bottom line in mind should be a goal. Politics and adult feelings about how it could be better run etc. put aside, isn't the bottom line really about animals? Are they better off with or without this shelter? If the answer is that they are better off with it, then support it.

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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Del Prado
on Jul 27, 2011 at 10:40 am

What a wonderful organization and place to visit. My daughter had her 9th birthday party there and it was excellent. It was a great educational party and fun at the same time! I would hate to see this place close its doors.

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Posted by Lisa
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jul 27, 2011 at 10:48 am

New facility: Remember, the article said most of the new facility funding was specifically desigated by the will of a donor who died in 2005. It was designated specifically for a better facility. One that saves thousands of animals a year.

Please donate to this very worthy cause, not only for the helpless animals, but the programs they provide the community of Pleasanton:
> They donate pet food to needy families who depend on assistance from local food banks so they can keep their pets(via AniMeals),

> Pet Therpy (for VA, nursing homes, assisted living facilites, battered women & children shelters),

> rescue animals from County facilites who are sheduled to be euthanized, etc, etc!

If you donate online, note that when it asks for "phone" to put in just the numbers (no dashes, slash, or periods) otherwise you get an error. Took me a minute to figure that out. I donated and I challenge you to donate too, even a little adds up!

We all can make a difference if we work together. Please be kind to this wonderful organization. This is not a time to criticize, but to focus on saving animals and programs that help our residents in Pleasanton.

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Posted by Betsy
a resident of Carriage Gardens
on Jul 27, 2011 at 10:50 am

The new Executive Director has only been working at Valley Humane for 3 months. I am an active volunteer and I have only found Melanie to be supportive and responsive to the volunteers, probably more so than any other Executive Director in the past. I'm actually shocked you feel this way and I wonder if you are thinking about a different person.

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Posted by Joe
a resident of Siena
on Jul 27, 2011 at 10:51 am

I really don't know anything about this topic, but I can say what my own personal experience was. About three years ago, I was "shopping" for a cat. I was looking everywhere, including, the East Bay Animal Shelter in Dublin, and the SPCA across the street from them (I think that's what the other one is called?). I also decided to drop by the Valley Humane Society when they were in the portable building on Nevada Street. All I remember from that experience is that it was not very pleasant. When I walked in the door and went to the counter, I said that I wanted to look at cats. When I said that, they looked at me like I had three heads! It was as if nobody had ever walked in before asking to look at their cats--it as weird. I can't remember if they had me fill out paperwork or not (I think they did, but honestly I don't remember for certain), but eventually the person behind the counter went to the back and got "the manager". I had to again explain that I was looking to adopt a cat, and could I please see their cats? She hesitantly came around and unlocked the door so that I could go to the back. When I got into the back room where the cats were, she stayed with me the whole time. I felt like I was buying a used car and they were watching every move I made. This is NOT how to adopt a cat. I had been going to the other two places about three times a week for the previous two months, and I would just walk in the door and head straight to the cats and hang out for a while so that I could watch the cat's demeanor to see if I found a good match for me. At the VHS, it was like this was discouraged--I just felt WEIRD. So I never returned. I thought to myself, WOW, they sure do not encourage cat adoptions!

Maybe my experience was isolated? I don't know, but that is what my experience was. There are A LOT of places locally who adopt cats: the two places I already mentioned, plus TVAR, Purrfect Cat Rescue, Petfinder, etc.....I hate to say it, but if they shut down, it really won't be a big deal. My concern is with the animals--I just hope they are okay and survive the closure okay.

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Posted by Alamedacountynative
a resident of Foothill Farms
on Jul 27, 2011 at 11:21 am

I've known Melanie Sadek, the new executive director of Valley Humane, for several years and can't imagine a better person to take over the running of an animal rescue organization. Melanie has a background in both retail sales and corporate management. She loves animals and knows how to care for them. Personally, I've never heard her insult anyone or even raise her voice. She's too smart a business woman to do either.
If I had been able to vote for the new director, Melanie would have been my first choice. If anyone can bring VHS out of the red it's going to be Melanie Sadek. Let's help her save Valley Humane!

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Posted by Anja
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Jul 27, 2011 at 11:23 am

This is so very sad. Everyone at VHS is so compassionate abt their jobs and saving all the animals that come in. My son and I just recently signed up to volunteer, and I'll tell you, its been the most phenomenal experience for us. It takes.a lot of hard work and dedication to run this facility. We need to get the word out. We need money! Please, please send them what you can! Any gift you give is tax deductible.

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Posted by Anja
a resident of Birdland
on Jul 27, 2011 at 11:30 am

Hello! This isn't about the people, it's about saving the facility for the cats and dogs. Let's stay focused and use your energy to save VHS.

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Posted by Lee
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jul 27, 2011 at 11:46 am

Thank goodness we have TVAR- they do a great job for the animals.

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Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Jul 27, 2011 at 12:21 pm

I'm a bit sad and surprised by this news. I've been a supporter of the VHS for many years, and make automatic monthly donations of $25 to them.

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Posted by previous donor
a resident of Castlewood Heights
on Jul 27, 2011 at 1:04 pm

I would have no problem donating to help the animals -- I will NOT donate money to pay the salary of an executive director who still owns a store downtown and clearly cannot devote a significant amount of time or energy to running VHS.

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Posted by Foster Mom
a resident of Livermore
on Jul 27, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Disappointed in some of the negativity out here. I've been involved with fostering animals at VHS for more than 12 years. There have been hundreds of animals in my care that found forever homes because VHS existed I'd hate to see that come to an end.

Putting any blame on Melanie seems a little premature since she hasn't been there long enough (read an article that stating she was hired in May). I don’t have any personal experience with her to comment on, but she just hasn’t been there long enough to pass judgment.

As for the person who had a bad experience adopting from there I can only say this. I'm sorry you had a bad experience. I personally have always found it a most wonderful place to visit, as do my kids. If they had to unlock the door for you I'd venture to say they were either closed or some other out of the ordinary situation had arose. I only foster animals, I do not work in the facility but I can tell you most of the people who are working in the shelter and at the front desk are unpaid volunteers. If they were new volunteers then they were just learning how things work around there.

Every person involved with VHS has one common goal, save the animals. No-Kill is achievable if we work together and if organizations like VHS continue to survive. Yes TVAR is a great organization, but there needs to be multiple organizations to handle all the rescues in the area.

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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Stoneridge
on Jul 27, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Two weeks ago I was coming from the strip mall on California St. and
saw a kitten in the street who had just been hit by a car. I picked up the kitty and took him to the local vet who was closed, I was pretty sure the kitty was dead, as there was no breath and no heart beat. But I remembered VHS was close and I took him there thinking they would properly dispose of him or treat him. (I didn't want
it to be hit any more). The staff there was exceedingly sympathetic and gentle. They took the kitten from me and didn't ask any questions, or expect any money. (No, I didn't hit the kitty).

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Posted by previous donor
a resident of Castlewood Heights
on Jul 27, 2011 at 7:18 pm

"Personally, I've never heard her insult anyone or even raise her voice. She's too smart a business woman to do either."
Ask some of the downtown merchants about her ability to work with other people. She has alienated nearly everyone and has a "my way or the highway" method of working with people. This is not a good choice for director of VHS. People are right, it's about the animals. No one would say that Melanie does not love and care for animals, only that she does not play well with people.
Isn't her salary about the same amount that VHS is now trying to raise? Not bad for a part time performance. They can do better with someone who would devote their full time energies to collect a full time paycheck.

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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jul 27, 2011 at 7:21 pm

When asked for donations for NPOs highly reliant upon unpaid staff, I consider the following:

1. Is the service being provided complementary or redundant?
2. Is the operation living within its means?
3. Is the operation focusing the majority of its means on its stated
4. Is the staff proactively fostering a positive relationship with
the public?
5. Is the paid staff demonstrating its commitment to the operation's
stated function by tightening its own belt for the benefit of the

*Being an individual who donates in my area of expertise through regular pro bono work for worthy causes, I do have a some difficulty understanding the necessity of paid staff; however, this does not preclude donations.

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Posted by Curious
a resident of Country Fair
on Jul 27, 2011 at 10:10 pm

In whose pocket has all the money gone too ? Look around, the homes these people live in are their homes are way over a million bucks or more.The bearded fellow lives in a big home across the street from me. Ask him where the money went ??

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Posted by VHS Volunteer
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2011 at 10:16 pm

I'm a VHS volunteer and have to say that my only negative experience at VHS has been with Melanie. (Comment removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff for containing unverified or personal information.) The other staff is terrific as are the many dedicated volunteers. The work they do with animals is commendable. I'm just very disappointed that this fiscal crisis wasn't handled better and earlier. VHS Board: you really needed a leader with a successful nonprofit/fundraising track record vs retail sales.

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Posted by Wow
a resident of Foxborough Estates
on Jul 27, 2011 at 10:49 pm

Just heard on the KTVU channel 2 news that an "anonymous" doner has come forward and pledged $125,000 to Valley Humane. They still will need consistent donations, but at least this buys some much needed time for increasing fundraising efforts.

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Posted by VHS volunteer
a resident of Downtown
on Jul 28, 2011 at 11:00 am

Saved by another "anonymous" doner! Wow is correct. Now the director that seems to have a difference of a love/hate following better get busy on consistent donatons and fund rising.

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Posted by ProudPleasantonResident
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jul 28, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Please take a moment to reread the article. Many of you have missed key pieces of information regarding why VHS is in need of support. As a huge VHS supporter and active volunteer I can tell you that Melanie Sedak is by far the most professional, dedicated and talented Executive Director ever employed by VHS. She is spending a tremendous amount of time at the shelter and is in no way a "part time" leader. She was hired to be part of the solution and is not to blame for the financial hardship being faced currently.

Please stop the unfounded and unnecessary personal attacks. Who is that benefiting? Please focus on this incredible organizaiton and help them to continue to serve this community!!

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Posted by previous donor
a resident of Castlewood Heights
on Jul 28, 2011 at 3:05 pm

For PPR (or Melanie?)
She may spend time there but even the PW refers to her ONLY as the Owner of the store--
"Melanie Sadek, owner of Murphy's Paw, assists Bob Palechek of Wente Vineyards who is pouring Suzon Aornblum a glass of Wente's Riva Ranch Chardonnay during last Thursday's wine stroll in downtown Pleasanton. "
This caption was to a photo from the July wine stroll. My point is that she is a devoted and commited retail store owner who is taking a fulltime salary for part time work at VHS. Of course she was not involved with the bad decision to build a large facility that needs more donations for operating. However, how can VHS justify paying a full salary for someone who is clearly more dedicated to making money from a retail store than in getting VHS back into the black?
Without regard for Melanie's alledged personality issues when working with other people, if VHS wants a part time director they should get a volunteer and stop paying a full salary for it.

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Posted by Nancy
a resident of Danville
on Jul 28, 2011 at 3:56 pm

I can't believe that a board would approve to build a new building and have no clue that they can't afford to run it. Very poor management. Maybe they need to get someone on the board with finacial experience. This board is dealing with a lot of people's money/donations and they seem to be mismanaging it. And the poor animals will suffer in the end.

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Posted by just the facts
a resident of Livermore
on Jul 28, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Don't forget to consider the new building had been planned for years on land that was purchased well before the economy took a dive. It was built with money specifically donated for a new building.

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Posted by resident
a resident of The Knolls
on Jul 28, 2011 at 9:31 pm

resident of Castlewood Heights,

I am so curious as to how you know the personal details of Melanie Sadeks everyday life. I would love to look at the personal log you keep of her hours. It must be so nice to have such details.

I am beyond appalled that you could take so much time out of your life to comment so many often a subject you really have no clue about.

And no this is not Melanie Sadek, she is far to professional and intelligent to ever acknowledge your ridiculous statements. I on the other hand have been seriously bothered by you, shame on me.

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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jul 28, 2011 at 11:32 pm

"Previous Donor" brings up a valid issue.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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