Home Sought for Puggles Affected by Family Tragedy

August 26, 2014 – After a family tragedy forced their guardian to surrender the family’s beloved puggles, Dallas and Dakota, to Valley Humane Society, the organization is on a desperate search to find a new home willing to adopt this loving and bonded pair.

“The challenge is these are older dogs and they need to stay together,” said Melanie Sadek, Valley Humane Society’s Executive Director. “The big plus for these two is that they are healthy – we have their entire medical history – and they get along great with other dogs and children.”

Dallas and Dakota were surrendered to the facility after a massive heart attack landed their guardian in the hospital for a long and uncertain recovery. The puggles’ story is just one of many “private surrender” situations dealt with on a daily basis at Valley Humane Society. With anywhere from 10 to 15 requests per week from people who need to find a new home for their animals, most private surrender requests are put on a wait list, and many animals are denied outright for reasons such as aggressive tendencies or severe medical issues.

“Occasionally, an emergency situation like that of Dallas and Dakota arises, and we need to act quickly. Unfortunately, it takes longer to place older dogs and that means fewer dogs will cycle through our care in the meantime,” said Sadek. “We’re hoping once the community hears about this special pair, someone will step forward to adopt them.”

Valley Humane Society’s longstanding private surrender program is unique among animal welfare groups, but the organization has always struggled with the challenge of limited space. Sadek notes that Valley Humane Society’s rescue efforts focus first on those animals being held at local municipal shelters: “Dogs and cats at public shelters have their days numbered. We prioritize taking them in because they are at the greatest risk.”

Since private rescue groups like Valley Humane Society provide a safe haven for animals where the risk of euthanasia is slight, demand for the opportunity to surrender a pet is high. “We simply don’t have the space to help the majority of the people who request the service,” says Sadek. “In the ideal world no one surrenders an animal. Our pets should become members of our family for whom we take all steps necessary to keep them happy, healthy, and active, but in reality there are some situations like Dallas and Dakota where no alternative exists.”

Valley Humane Society recommends that those considering pet surrender be prepared to:

  • Wait as long as three months for space to open up at a facility.
  • Pay a fee for the privilege, anywhere from $40 to $100 per animal.
  • Provide any existing medical records for the animal
  • Be turned away for a pet with serious behavioral or medical issues
  • Promote their animal on their own using their social network.

For adopters, the biggest benefit to taking home surrendered pets like Dallas and Dakota is the availability of their health history, personality, and preferences, something missing from the typical rescue. “We are committed to helping them find them someone who will cherish and care for them throughout the rest of their days,” says Sadek. “There is no doubt that this aging duo has plenty of love left to give a new family.”

For more information on Dallas and Dakota, Valley Humane Society adoption or pet surrender programs, or for ideas to help find a home for your pet, please call (925) 426-8656.

Pet Photo Contest Opens for Entries July 10

Cockatoos, rats, and cats, oh my! Pets of all stripes are invited to enter Valley Humane Society’s 2014 online pet photo contest, Is Spot Hot…or Not? beginning Thursday, July 10, 2014. A way for pet lovers to show off their beloved companions, the contest opens the door to both the decidedly dapper and the happily homely, illustrating that every pet is loveable and worthy of being loved.

Contest winners will be determined by public voting. Votes cost $1 each with a minimum donation of $5, or five votes (votes can be split among multiple entries). Entrants are encouraged to share their pet’s picture through email, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites to enlist the support of friends and family and help their pet win. Every dollar funds Valley Humane Society programs, including the rescue and rehabilitation of cats and dogs awaiting the love and security of their own forever home.

The contest runs from 10:00 am on Thursday, July 10, 2014 through 10:00 pm on Thursday, July 31, 2014 with the deadline for entries on Thursday, July 24, 2014 at 10 pm. Complete rules are available through Prize packages will be given to the first, second, and third place winners as determined by public voting. Among the prizes are a Pet Food Express “My Mutt” poster, a private wine tasting at Concannon Vineyard for eight, a personal shopper experience for four at Nordstrom, gift cards, and public recognition of the winners in the Pleasanton Weekly.

Whether your pet is camera-ready or has a face only a pet parent could love, they are undoubtedly adored. Every vote is a vote for compassion and companionship. Join VHS for this fun photo contest by entering your own companion today or voting for your favorite at!

Free Pet Adoption May 31 and June 1

May 14, 2014—Water may be scarce, but there is no shortage of dogs and cats in need of loving homes. Valley Humane Society will be flooded with dogs, cats, kittens, and puppies during Maddie’s® Pet Adoption Days, May 31 – June 1, 2014. All weekend long, cats, dogs, kittens, and puppies will go home fee-free to qualified adopters. Located at 3670 Nevada Street in Pleasanton, the adoption center will be open Saturday, May 31 from 8 am to 5 pm and Sunday, June 1 from 10 am to 5 pm. Valley Humane Society will also adopt animals out of Stoneridge Mall in Pleasanton from 10 am to 6 pm on Saturday, and from 11 am to 4 pm on Sunday.

“We hope to be inundated with a steady stream of adopters as well,” says Executive Director Melanie Sadek, “so that all the animals in our care can find placement.” She added that adult cats in particular tend to be overlooked, despite offering an abundance of personality and affection, and invites community members who have experienced the joy of adopting an animal companion to share their stories with friends and family to encourage pet adoption. “Word of mouth is the best way to match up individual animals with people who will treasure them,” says Sadek.

Now in its fifth year, having become America’s biggest free pet adoption event, Maddie’s® Pet Adoption Days is a collaborative effort of countless people who want to save the lives of shelter animals—a testament to what can be done when people rally together for a common cause. More than 200 participating organizations in fourteen communities nationwide aim to find homes for 10,000 animals during the two-day event. Each qualifying dog or cat that finds a new home generates a grant back to the adopting shelter ranging from $500 to $2,000; Maddie’s Fund® has earmarked $10 million for this year’s event.

In preparation for the event, Valley Humane Society is seeking individuals and families who would be willing to foster animals in their home for approximately two weeks. Interested parties should contact Operations Manager Yayoi DaCosta at (925) 426-8656. For more information, about the event or available animals, please visit or the Maddie’s® Pet Adoption Days website at

Envisioning a world in which every animal is loved and every person knows the love of an animal, Valley Humane Society creates a brighter future for cats and dogs by encouraging and strengthening the bond between people and pets. Valley Humane Society rescues and rehabilitates companion animals, champions responsible caretaking, shares pets’ soothing affections with people in need of comfort, and supports and preserves existing pet-guardian relationships. Whether you’d like to adopt an animal, share your passion for pets, or meet like-minded people, Valley Humane Society is Your Means to a Friend™.

Twenty years ago, the love of a little dog inspired a $300 million legacy to revolutionize the status and well-being of companion animals. Maddie’s Fund® ( is the family foundation endowed by the founder of Workday® and PeopleSoft, Dave Duffield and his wife Cheryl. It is named in honor of Maddie, their beloved Miniature Schnauzer who passed away in 1997. Today, through its grant giving, hands-on animal care, research and education, Maddie’s Fund is helping to achieve and sustain a no-kill nation by providing solutions to the most challenging issues facing the animal welfare community.

2014 Garden Tour Cancelled in Support of Community Drought Efforts

April 14, 2014—With California still deep in drought, Valley Humane Society has decided to cancel its annual Hidden Gardens of the Valley tour. Though this decision will leave the organization with a budget shortfall of $10,000-13,000 dollars this year, they feel strongly that their social responsibility goes beyond the organization’s needs.

“Promoting a fundraiser which encourages participating gardeners to excessively water their yard in preparation, and requires similar use of water for tour attendees to obtain like results feels irresponsible,” said Melanie Sadek, Executive Director. The Hidden Gardens of the Valley tour has been a staple fundraising event for Valley Humane Society since 2003, raising well over $100,000 since its inception. Through it, participants have the opportunity to tour the private backyards of ten Pleasanton homes to gain useful tips and inspiration for their own yards, as well as to simply enjoy the beautifully landscaped offerings.

“This was a tough decision, made after careful thought and consideration,” said Sadek, “but we know it is the most responsible decision for the community we serve. We are hopeful we can make up this lost revenue in other ways.”

Though the water needs of dogs and cats aren’t necessarily significant compared to a normal household’s needs, Valley Humane Society recommends that some basic steps can be taken to help conserve water. For example, don’t bath your animals more than once a month, unless advised differently by your veterinarian. When bathing, try to use a sink or bathtub where water can be contained, thereby requiring that less be used. If you have an external water source for your outdoor animals, such as a hose bib attachment that allows the animal to lick it when thirsty, make sure it is secure and not leaking. Even the smallest water-saving measures can have a significant effect on overall conservation.

Community members interested donating to help Valley Humane Society reduce the loss associated with the cancellation of the garden tour are invited to do so online or in person at the adoption center. Valley Humane Society is located at 3670 Nevada Street in Pleasanton; facility hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm. Donors who contribute at least $25 toward the Garden Tour cancellation will receive one complimentary copy of the 2014 Wine Country Critter calendar, while supplies last.

Two Local Businesswomen Appointed to VHS Board of Directors

December 6, 2013—Valley Humane Society (VHS) is pleased to announce that Elisabeth Au-Yeung and Gina Piper have been appointed as new members to the board of directors.

Ms. Au-Yeung is vice president of marketing at Sensiba San Filippo LLP (SSF), a leading Northern California-based CPA and business consulting firm. She looks forward to working with the VHS board to leverage her more than 17 years of experience directing global and domestic marketing departments in such high-caliber companies as KPMG LLP, Deloitte Consulting, and PeopleSoft, and “contribute to this wonderful organization.” Ms. Au-Yeung and her family have lived in the Valley for more than 10 years.

Ms. Piper is a successful realtor of more than 18 years and a Pleasanton native. She has served in multiple leadership roles, including President of the Valley Marketing Association, President of the Women’s Council of Realtors, Director of the Bay East Association of Realtors, and Director of the California Association of Realtors. Ms. Piper is currently a member of the City of Pleasanton Economic Vitality Committee, a board member of Pleasanton Rotary North, and creator of the local Facebook page “Living in Pleasanton.” Giving back to the community which has given her so much is important to her.

Ms. Au-Yeung and Ms. Piper join a board of well-respected Tri-Valley professionals and animal lovers, including Board Chair Pamela Ott, the City of Pleasanton’s Economic Development Director; Treasurer Scott Paull, Senior Vice President of global supply chain and corporate operations at KLA Tencor; Secretary Phillip Vermont, partner at Randick, O’Dea & Tooliatos LLP; and Executive Committee Officer Lisa Hazlewood, Senior Manager of Human Resources at Equinix, Inc.

Feature Room Murals Celebrated November 6 with Artist’s Reception & Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Carly Krakauer_crop smallOctober 31, 2013—Please join Valley Humane Society (VHS) and Tri-Valley city dignitaries for a formal ribbon cutting ceremony and reception on Wednesday, November 6, 2013, from 6 to 7:30 pm at 3670 Nevada Street in Pleasanton. The event marks the introduction of five newly-decorated animal feature rooms to the public, highlighting colorful murals coordinated by Carly Krakauer.

Krakauer arranged the project to beautify VHS, brightening the walls for both animals and visitors and encouraging a positive experience for pet adoption. Each mural represents one of the five cities served by VHS: Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, San Ramon, and Danville. Krakauer’s efforts took over one year and more than 600 volunteer hours to complete, and will net her a Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout can earn.

Following the ribbon cutting ceremony is a reception to honor Carly and the local artists who contributed their time and talent to design and paint the murals, including Debbie Wardrope, Megan Parks-Haller, Yang Liu and Kathleen Hill.

Combined with an existing mural painted by Chikako in Kitty City, the feline adoption room, the newly-vibrant feature rooms complement the happy atmosphere found at VHS.

Animal Lover’s Holiday Boutique Set for November 2

September 19, 2013—The Animal Lover’s Boutique, which is located year-round in the lobby of Feline Medical Center (FMC), 3160 Santa Rita Road in Pleasanton, will hold their 14th Annual Holiday Sale for the Animals event on Saturday, November 2nd. Proceeds from the 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. boutique will benefit Jackie Barnett’s Just Like New (JLN) Fund, a Valley Humane Society program that aids sick and injured pets.

The one-day Holiday Sale will showcase a book-signing by local author, Fern Dahlstrom, of A Home For Charlie. Additional items will also be available during the Holiday Sale, including animal-themed and holiday gift items such as planters, garden art, wind chimes, ornaments, home and kitchen decor, purses, jewelry, greeting cards, handmade items and much more. “Stella and Dot” jewelry and unique pet-themed vendors will provide more shopping choices. For pampering your pet, browse the cat and dog toys and dishes while seeking opportunities to win several gift baskets.

The Just Like New Fund was founded in 1995 by Pleasanton animal advocate Jackie Barnett, who passed away in 2009. The fund, which now bears Jackie’s name, provides financial assistance to Tri-Valley residents who cannot afford emergency, lifesaving veterinary care for their pets. Since its beginning, the JLN Fund has helped save the lives of nearly 500 companion animals.

Today volunteers are continuing Jackie’s work. Volunteers raise money for the JLN Fund by making and selling catnip toys and other handmade items and by operating the Animal Lover’s Boutique at Feline Medical Center. Although FMC does not offer veterinary services on weekends, it is opening its lobby on Saturday, November 2 for the Holiday sales event. For more information, please contact Cindy Ferrin at (925) 323-8517.

VHS Volunteer Receives Red Cross Hero Award

September 10, 2013—Valley Humane Society (VHS) is pleased to announce that volunteer John Flotten will be honored by the Bay Area chapter of the American Red Cross as a Community Service Hero. John’s work on behalf of VHS community programs recommends him as “one whose actions exemplify the spirit of heroism through courage, dedication, and character.”

Giving thousands of hours of his time each year, John coordinates VHS’s AniMeals and Canine Comfort Pet Therapy programs. Under his leadership, AniMeals, which distributes dog and cat food and animal supplies to eligible low-income families, has grown from distributing a few thousand pounds of food each year to more than 30,000 pounds annually. His efforts have allowed VHS to help hundreds of loving companions remain at home with their families and out of the county shelter system.

John oversees recertification for Canine Comfort dogs and handlers and forges relationships with new facilities, schedules therapy visitations, and mentors new teams. An active handler with his dog Miles, John has helped start visitations in local school districts and city libraries, allowing thousands of school-age children to improve their reading skills through the gentle companionship of dogs. John and Miles also visit the Veteran’s Affairs Health Care Center in Livermore and work with Hope Hospice to sharing the unconditional love unique to dogs with individuals facing death.

John has been a lifelong volunteer, jumping at the chance to educate school children about the business world, teaching computer skills at the local Senior Center, sitting on education boards, and coaching sports. Valley Humane Society is proud to have him working on our behalf.

The award ceremony will take place during the 13th Annual Heroes Recognition Breakfast on Friday, September 27 from 8-10 am at the Hilton Oakland Airport, One Hegenberger Road, Oakland. Community members are invited to attend the award ceremony in support of John and other honorees; tickets may be purchased at

Teen Marketers Have Chance to Hone Skills, Help Animals

August 22, 2013—Possessing real-world experience in one’s desired field can make all the difference to a student in stiff competition for college admission. Valley Humane Society (VHS) announces a new program offering future marketers the chance to work with industry experts and hone their skills while helping animals and people in the community. The Teen Marketing Program kicks off September 9, 2013, and is limited to 20 students in each of three available sessions. Additional sessions begin December 2, 2013 and March 17, 2014.

Funded by a grant through the City of Pleasanton, the Teen Marketing Program is currently open only to Pleasanton high school juniors and seniors; there is no fee to participate. Marketing professionals will offer instruction and advice, which students will use to create and launch their own marketing campaigns to promote VHS animals, programs, and services. Campaigns will be featured in local media outlets.

Topics include graphic design, videography, social media outreach, and brand development, presented by experienced individuals from a range of both corporate and nonprofit environments: Robert Half International, Pleasanton Downtown Association, Ogden Costa Creative Group, Spring Street Studios.

Each session is comprised of twelve weekly 90-minute classes, plus 2 hours to be determined. Students interested in enrolling must commit to attending all meetings in the session to qualify for the program. In addition to hands-on marketing experience, participating students will earn 20 community service hours toward their high school civics graduation requirements. Please visit this page for class dates, downloadable application, and additional information.

Festival Makes Helping Animals a (Dog) Walk in the Park

August 1, 2013- It’s time to get moving and register for Paws in the Park, Valley Humane Society’s charity dog walk and animal festival! Scheduled for Sunday, September 22, 2013, the 3rd annual Paws in the Park offers animal lovers a fun, dynamic, easy way to support the rescue, care, and adoption of Tri-Valley dogs and cats. The walk begins at 10 am at Amador Valley Community Park in Pleasanton, followed by a free, family-friendly community celebration until 4 pm.

Walkers are encouraged to register early at and get a good start on collecting donations to help the animals. Registration fees include a t-shirt and goody bag, and cost $25 for individuals, $40 for couples, and $10 for youth age 12 and under, ARF alumni dogs with guardian, and “virtual” walkers. Children age 12 and under who do not wish to receive a t-shirt may also register for free.

Collar your friends and family to create a dog pack for extra fun, and don’t forget to bring Fido! The team that raises the most money toward the $25,000 goal will be treated to a private Yappy Hour for 20 people at Valley Humane Society. Paws in the Park also makes a great teambuilding activity for employees and coworkers. Create or join a pack today!

Everyone is invited to enjoy the afternoon’s animal festival, featuring pet-friendly vendors, canine demonstrations like rally/obedience and Frisbee, performing dogs, pet contests, children’s activities, music, and fabulous gourmet food truck fare.

Paws in the Park is presented by Pet Food Express, NBC, Contra Costa Times, and 101.7 KKIQ. Additional sponsorship opportunities and vendor booths are still available; please contact Lori Rice at for more information.