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Puzzles the Cat Finds Love at Animal Shelter Fundraiser

The Palo Alto Animal Shelter held an auction at its facilities on East Bay Shore road this afternoon. All proceeds will go directly to the clinic.

Dog lovers, cat lovers and rabbit lovers alike enjoyed some face time Saturday afternoon with some of the local Animal Shelter’s lonely critters.  The City of Palo Alto opened up the shelter to the public for a first annual auction to raise money and awareness for its indispensible spay and neuter clinic, which services the greater South Bay between Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos, and Los Altos Hills.

Many of the animals had the opportunity to roam about the shelter’s general store in hopes of bumping into a new family and a new home. For one cool cat, it was her lucky day.

Among the sundry of volunteers and staff that made the event possible, 14-year Superintendent and Director of the Animal Services Division Sandra Stadler coordinated her workforce with the help of Gale Henshel. 

“We just want to let people know that we’re here to support the animals,” Henshel said. “We want people to understand the significance of our spay and neuter clinic, and to leave her with more awareness [about the clinic].”

Many of the volunteers who suited up for the event contributed much more than their presence. Lynne Urband, Emily Barton, Rona Foster, Lori Coons and Henshel all supplied the auction with their own with works of art. 

“This piece here,” Urband said, walking me over to a mahogany framed watercolor image of the Baylands, “Was done by my mentor. He’s nationally acclaimed and did this while looking out from Easy Bayshore Road.”

To compliment the private donations, a collection of corporations made donations.  On the long list included AAA, Avalon Yoga Center, Charles Shultz’s Museum, Trader Joe’s, Grey Wolf Cellars, Putnam Lexus, Union Bank and Starbucks. Their contributions ranged from a tank of fresh brewed java to a complete wine set: bottle, cork and sealer.

The Palo Alto Animal Shelter, despite its small facility, does a spectacular job assisting the community and attending to the needs of its residents. A truly indispensible service run by the city, the Shelter provides homes to nearly 4,000 animals a year, taking in the majority of the animals in the late spring and early summer when the volume of puppies and kittens shoot through the roof. 

“What we do here in Palo Alto is provide a full-service Animal Shelter,” Stadler said. “We’re responsible for a range of circumstances, including stray, injured and surrendered [animals].”

In the crowd, a clean-stubble laden, highlighted spiked-hair officer fielded a phone call report from a Mountain View resident that picked up a dog outside of San Antonio shopping center.  Animal Control Officer Cody Macartney took down the caller’s information; end of story.

“I don’t like to see them in this light,” Macartney conceded. “The animals are living property. When someone finds a dog on the street, they usually call us up to see if anyone’s filed a missing report. If not, and they want to keep it, we just take down their information so that we can reach them if the owner does file a report."

In the case that the Officer’s do go out and retrieve animals, they immediately administer a DA2PP-C vaccine that protects against distemper, and some life-threatening viruses and infections.

Walking through the facility, Macartney acknowledged the prudence the architects had when designing the place. He explained that the dogs that are ready for adoption face the front of the clinic and are separated from the strays that come in.  Behind another set of doors, Macartney found Officer Casey Cushman tending to the stray dogs that are caged on top of heated floors.

“The things we look for in the dog’s demeanor to determine whether they can be put up for adoption include spectrums of aggressiveness,” Cushman said. “We try and gauge their overall aggression, food aggression, playful aggression, their stance and body language.”

The facility extends deep into the Baylands. In a separate site connected by an outdoor hallway, the Shelter houses its problem pets.  In one room, known as the isolation chamber, sits a hazy-eyed dark grey mastiff.

“There’s no messing around with this guy,” Cushman said. “He has no limits. That’s why when we walk in we have to take off our hats, glasses and articles, and approach him sideways.”

In some cases, animals that make it into the shelter are unsafe to be released.  Under such circumstances, the officers are trained to euthanize the animals.

Back at the front of the Shelter, love was in the air. Sunnyvale residents David and Judy Obedoza, who recently put to sleep their own 19-year-old cat, were getting to know Puzzles. 

“They deserve a life,” Mr. Obedoza said. “And they too deserve to fall in love.”

Just on the other side of a fenced-in cat jungle gym, Rona Foster prepared Puzzles for liftoff. She quickly scanned her for HomeAgainTM Microchip Identification System from Schering-Plough Animal Health, a microchip encased in a biocompatible material placed under the skin. Placing him in a breathable box to-go, Foster handed her off.

“Well, she’s going to make you giggle,” Foster bantered warmly. 

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