I’m used to getting upstaged by animals.
When I speak at local service club meetings, the audience wants to know all about my dog, my wing man.
"What breed is he?" I often hear. " How old is he?... Where did you get him?... Is he available for adoption?"
Still, this week was a joke. I felt like the Invisible Man. And I could not have been any happier.
In a two-day stretch, I was upstaged by 25 animals - none of them my own.
On Wednesday, I issued a news release to my media contacts. The headline read, “Peninsula Humane Society’s New Wildlife Center Caring for First Groups of Orphaned Baby,” and the release included photos of the 10 ducklings and 10 goslings now growing up inside our Center for Compassion.
These fuzzy, week-old babies became separated from their mothers in vastly different circumstances. Our organization’s permit with the state Department of Fish & Game (which gives us the authority to care for wildlife) specifically states we are not to use words like cute or adorable when describing wildlife.
Doing so makes the wild animals seem more like pets, when they should left wild, cared for with minimal human interaction and zero cooing.
That said, please click on a few photos. If you want to gush, that’s fine -- we won’t get our permit yanked.
The ducklings are the smaller, multi-colored ones. This particular group fell into a storm drain - not uncommon for ducklings. Mom quacked over them, unable to do anything else. When our officer arrived on scene, she flew away. Following the quick rescue, he waited with the Mallard ducklings more than an hour, hoping mom would return for a simple reunion.
No such luck.
Leaving the ducklings alone in this high-traffic area (near Bank of America on El Camino Real in San Mateo) or taking them to a safer area nearby where mom may or may not have found them were risky options. So, he brought them to our center. There, they will receive care until they are old enough to be on their own – at least one month, possibly two under our organization’s wing.
Ten goslings occupy the space next to the ducklings. Their story began in San Francisco, near Baker Beach. They were waddling along with mom when a curious Labradoodle began harassing them. Mom took off, leaving the babies temporarily. A well-meaning citizen scooped up the Canada goslings and took them to San Francisco Animal Care & Control, which promptly transferred them to us.
We are the only organization between San Francisco and Northern Santa Clara County that cares for sick, injured and orphaned wildlife (and do it well with generous contributions from donors!).
Twenty fuzzy orphaned babies is good TV! And, that’s how I spent Thursday, giving interviews for stations which aired later that night. These stories will end well; the babies will mature in our care. Twenty more lives saved this year.
The following day, dogs stole the show.
We celebrated the 11th graduation for our , which pairs PHS/SPCA shelter dogs with inmates in a minimum security San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office facility for eight weeks.
Our trainer leads a weekly obedience class for the inmate handlers; outside of class, inmates are responsible for completing homework from class, exercising their dogs, providing socialization, grooming and poop scooping. TAILS dogs arrive in our care with “issues” preventing them from being adopted. Some are shy and withdrawn, some overly exuberant, all lacking basic doggie manners.
The inmates make them more adoptable. In the program’s two-year run, we’ve graduated 42 dogs. And, the challenge has always been finding homes as good as the one the dogs have in jail, where they get constant attention from their handlers, loads of off-leash play time with other dogs, a weekly training class and tons of love.
You can see the dogs pictured here. There’s nothing saying I can’t call these guys cute, cuddly and adorable. Those who aren’t adopted right away will remain at the Men’s Transitional Facility in Redwood City until we find suitable, permanent homes.
Please share this column with others – many others – and increase their chances of finding “the one.”
Let’s make it 25 lives saved for the week!