The first volunteer at San Francisco's Animal Care and Control department in 1990 was Michelle Parris, who quickly discovered that all too many potentially great pets never had a chance. SFACC considered them unadoptable because of a fixable but resource-consuming issue.
Grateful Dogs was born; two decades later, the organization has made a life-saving difference for San Francisco shelter dogs who need a little extra help, whether they're terrified of the shelter environment, in need of training or dealing with medical issues. Besides providing treatment, training and a safe haven, Grateful Dogs works to find the perfect match for each dog it takes in.
Along with the rest of the state, says Administrative Director Kim Durney, Grateful Dogs recently has been deluged with Chihuahuas and Chi mixes-the latest Hollywood-inspired, now-abandoned fashion accessory. "Everyone sees this perfectly behaved, well-trained little dog and says, I want that," Durney says. Reality soon intervenes, and thousands of dogs find themselves homeless.
In 2009, after SFACC held a press conference and Virgin Airways airlifted a batch of Chihuhuas to the East Coast, Grateful Dogs stepped up to help a bit closer to home. "We realized that these were dogs we could really help," Durney says. "Now about half our dogs at any given time are Chihuahuas or Chihuahua mixes."