Meet Patch's Pet Columnist

Learn more about the man behind Shelter Tails, Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA's senior vice president

I jumped the gun last week. , I rambled on about our new shelter opening in September. If I wasn’t completed blinded by the sparkly new place we’ll soon call home, I would have taken the time to properly introduce myself. So here goes a brief introduction of Patch’s animal guy.

I wasn’t always an animal guy. I had guppies and puppies, maybe even at the same time. And, I have to say, I was a pretty good caretaker, even for a little kid and even by today’s standards.  I’d take our yellow Lab mix, Ginger, to Capuchino High School most summer and weekend days and let her romp off-leash.  I earned an allowance for this, which was blown immediately on pinball machines or baseball cards. 

But, my real love was baseball.  It served me well, from Millbrae and San Bruno Little Leagues to Serra High School and American Legion ball in the summer. If I wasn’t playing, I was watching; Candlestick Park was my setting for countless warm memories and chilly days during the mid 1970s to late 1980s. The last stop for me and baseball was Stanford. I didn’t quite get a free ride, but it was close enough. 

Once I realized I wasn’t going to be the Giants’ next third baseman, I spent summers in college looking at my options, but didn’t divorce baseball completely, serving internships with the Giants’ marketing department and KPIX’s sports department. 

After graduating from Stanford with a communication degree, I entered the world of academia and worked for three different private high schools on the Peninsula, holding titles like Admissions Director and Alumni Affairs Director while also teaching Creative Writing, Journalism and American Literature. 

It was at this last high school stop where I met my predecessor here at the Peninsula Humane Society.  Oddly enough, I followed her in two jobs. When she left PHS, I applied for her vacated position. The more I learned about the shelter senior management position, the more intrigued I became. I grew up in the area and never knew this shelter accepted and rehabilitated wildlife, offered obedience classes, educated schoolchildren, ran a full-scale spay/neuter clinic and investigated acts of animal cruelty. To me, it was the old place off the freeway where you adopted animals or looked for a lost pet. 

I was hired in 1998 and, within months, knew this would be my professional home.  I’m quite sure the position I’ve grown into over my 13 years here doesn’t exist at another shelter or humane society. I get to wear lots of hats. 

There’s the spokesperson gig, which gets me in the paper and on television often, considering media loves animal stores, we always have good ones to share and I’m not shy. My first week on the job, media came calling about a woman attacked by a coyote on Sawyer Camp Trail and I had to say buttocks on tv! A few years later, I found myself on the couch with and accepting a generous check from Sharon Osbourne when she learned of PHS’s work outfitting every local fire department with oxygen masks for animals. And, just last week, we played a clip for my little one at home and she tried to talk to me on tv. Too cute.

In addition to media relations, I’m ultimately responsible for our adoption program, animal rescue and control, cruelty investigations, community outreach and education, volunteers, animal behavior and training, our thrift store, publications and website. In total, about 45 of our 95 employees and a little more than half of our $12 million operating budget.

I work with talented, compassionate, dedicated professionals. I’m inspired by volunteers daily. I hear of and see horrific things that people do to animals. I meet people who go to amazing lengths to help and advocate for animals and bump into shelter visitors who ask to adopt the oldest animal or longest resident, sight unseen. Fortunately, the good people and good works far outnumber the sad stuff.

It’s interesting, fulfilling, challenging work. I feel lucky I get to make this my living and can’t imagine doing anything else right now.  But, if I could play third base for the Giants…

Macho Man July 15, 2011 at 12:06 AM
SANDRA LAU July 15, 2011 at 12:12 AM
kuuipo July 15, 2011 at 06:02 AM
Thanks for adding a personal history and heart to the words and photo. They really breathe life into what you write. Thanks even more for having the backbone to see beyond the harsh realities of what happens to so many of our hairy, short people and to continue to advocate for them.
Kameela Din July 15, 2011 at 08:49 PM
It's comforting to know that in a world where Michael Vick is allowed to make millions once again and even endorse companies (I sincerely hope Nike is losing thousands of customers as I write) after committing such cruelty, there are dedicated people like you advocating for those without voices. Thanks so much for this piece, and for all you and your colleagues do!
Austin Choi July 31, 2011 at 08:04 AM
Thanks for the background info. I knew i recognized the name from the 80's/90's when I first read your column in the San Mateo Daily Journal. Your articles are very informative, entertaining, and down-to-earth. Keep up the good work.


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