Introducing Corinne LamataJuly 5, 2012
I am thrilled to be the new Executive Director of the Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society and privileged to work with its talented, skilled and hard-working stakeholders to provide first-rate care for our community's homeless animals.
For more than a decade, I have been a committed supporter of BEBHS--first as a staff member, then as a fundraising volunteer and board member. I have a solid background in institutional fundraising and a lifelong connection to pets. (My childhood dog, Spooky, was rescued from Vietnam by my brother while he served there during the war. My current feline friends are Butch and Buster, charming and sassy red rescue cats.)
I imagine you and I have similar reasons for sharing our time, talent and financial support with this storied institution: we are inspired by its legacy of saving tens of thousands of animals and offering them new lives with loving, devoted adopters.
The BEBHS veterinary and shelter crew provides important community services, ranging from lifesaving medical care for rescued cats and dogs to providing care by volunteers for the pets of the ill or disabled.
We are moving forward with plans to rebuild the structure we've owned since 1927 that was badly damaged in a 2010 fire. Working with the board and community stakeholders, I will oversee that effort, which will take approximately two-and-a-half years to complete.
As the new Executive Director of BEBHS, it is comforting to know you and so many others have been there through the victories and challenges of maintaining an active and thriving animal shelter. I am deeply grateful for all you've done to keep the Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society a strong and vibrant community institution. Please contact me with any ideas or questions you may have about our critical work.
October: Mutts & Meows NewsOctober 5, 2011
We’d like to share exciting news of the expansion of our canine department at the Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society. We are now maintaining more dogs in our care than we have in the past five years of operations! Our dog coordinator, Kris Swanson, has taken the lead in growing our canine capacity to care for 20+ dogs at one time (which is more than we have in the past, when 18 dogs had previously been our maximum capacity).
With this new number of dogs being housed onsite, BEBHS is now rescuing more canines from local municipal shelters and providing care for them until they are adopted. Kudos to the canine department staff, and the shelter/hospital teams for successfully getting us to this increased and record-breaking capacity!
There is more news to share. Each year, thousands of kittens are born in the Bay Area to intact neighborhood, feral, and pet cats. Despite continuous spay/neuter efforts by the BEBHS and other groups, the population of homeless cats continues to grow, and underage kittens flood local animal shelters almost year-round. Volunteer foster homes have traditionally been used to provide around-the-clock care for kittens too young to live in shelters, but the number of kittens in need of a foster home has always exceeded the resources available. Sadly, this forces many agencies to euthanize incoming kittens whenever a safe home environment cannot be immediately secured. Therefore, BEBHS has decided to move forward with the creation of a Kitten Nursery. The program is modeled after the successful “Paws for Success” kitten nursery at the San Diego Humane Society & SPCA, now in its third year.
Thank you for your continued support of our lifesaving efforts. If you or one of your friends are looking for a new canine or feline companion, please come visit us this weekend!
July: Mutts & Meows NewsJuly 21, 2011
Since 1927, the Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society (BEBHS) has been dedicated to placing homeless animals with committed caretakers and has saved well over 40,000 animals. Although we are just one entity within a web of animal welfare organizations in the East Bay, we work hard to be a resource for all of the municipal agencies within our service area which encompasses both Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. We work collaboratively and aggressively towards eliminating the euthanasia of both healthy and treatable cats and dogs. We know that without our efforts, hundreds of animals in need of medical attention or behavioral intervention, and young kittens not yet weaned from their mothers, would not survive.
In 2009, BEBHS had a banner year. We adopted out more than 800 animals and received the Maddie’s Fund Lifesaving Award. This was awarded to us, along with our partners in the Berkeley Alliance for Homeless Animals Coalition, for saving over 93% of healthy and treatable shelter animals within our community. We were only the third organization in the nation to receive this prestigious award (and the first in California).
Sadly, due to the fire of May 20, 2010, our lifesaving work was temporarily interrupted. That disastrous event destroyed most of our facility, including the entire cat housing area, inner dog kennels, laundry facilities, and our administrative offices — but most tragically resulted in the loss of 15 of our beloved cats. Our programs, which are very facility dependent, were left with
no shelter to house our cats and dogs.
We regained full operations of the hospital in January 2011. However, all of our cat housing and inner dog kennels were destroyed by the fire, so we are unable to house any cats and only a few dogs onsite. Therefore, we must utilize fosters to continue with our lifesaving efforts. The limitations on our
ability to shelter cats and dogs only allow us to operate at about 50% of our normal capacity. Given the large need in our community, we must get back to 100% as soon as possible — animals depend on us!
We have decided to secure a long-term interim facility that we can use for the next 3-5 years, while we rebuild our facility. Our primary focus is to get back to saving up to 800 animals per year again as soon as possible.
Berkeley Humane Responds to Joplin DisasterJuly 13, 2011
On May 22, the largest tornado in U.S. history ripped through the town of Joplin, Missouri, destroying thousands of homes and structures and killing at least 117 people. Within 24 hours the ASPCA had responded and set up an emergency sheltering operation next door to the Joplin Humane Society. Together, the two organizations began providing temporary shelter to more than 800 dogs and cats displaced by the disaster.
The ASPCA sent a plea for help to animal welfare agencies across the country to recruit volunteers. The Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society responded to the call by agreeing to send my co-worker, Emily Colwell (Volunteer Manager), and me to work onsite at the emergency shelter. It had been almost exactly one year since our shelter fire, and we all remembered how animal lovers from around the world had come through for us in our time of need. Within one week, Emily and I were deployed and on the ground, prepared to spend our volunteer time caring for the animals of Joplin.
Upon arrival, I was assigned the Cat Lead position, overseeing the care of nearly 400 rescued cats in an un-insulated, corrugated steel warehouse. I was placed in charge of a staff of dedicated animal rescue volunteers from across the country that were responsible for cleaning and providing medical care to the felines housed in this shelter. Monitoring the health of hundreds of cats and kittens and providing leadership under less than optimal conditions proved to be tremendously challenging. Our team had to contend with animal disease and death on a daily basis due to the effects of the disaster and the extreme heat. Every one of us was pushed to our limits, both physically and emotionally. In this intense environment, every animal that I helped care for had a profound effect on me.
I returned to Berkeley after my nine-day deployment, renewed and with an appreciation for everything that we are able to do for the animals at the Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society. I know that I will apply this outlook to my position as Shelter Manager, and that this perspective will stay with me. I am proud to have represented our organization, and glad that I was able to play a role in providing relief and comfort to victims, both humans and animals, when they needed it.
I am pleased to share that on June 25 and 26 a massive adopt-a-thon event was held at the rescue shelter in Joplin, and all 745 unclaimed cats and dogs displaced by the tornado were adopted by new and forever families.
Written by Valerie Mizuhara, Shelter Manager
Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society
Moving Forward: One Year LaterMay 20, 2011
It has been one year since the tragic fire that devastated our shelter and broke our hearts. As we mourned the loss of 15 cats and worked to care for the surviving animals, we were overwhelmingly touched by the outpouring of support from members of our community. Support from individuals like you enabled us to adopt out the remaining fire survivors, reopen our shelter-dedicated veterinary hospital, and resume our lifesaving programs. Today, we would like to take the opportunity to thank you for helping us get on the road to recovery, and provide you with an update on the status of our shelter.
We are thrilled to report that all necessary repairs to our outer dog kennels have been completed, and that the first canine residents since last year's fire have moved in and are happily inhabiting the kennels! Because foster homes for dogs have been difficult for us to find, housing dogs onsite was a crucial next step in fully recovering our dog program.
The outer kennels were originally built in the 1970’s as an "extra" holding area for dogs, and are currently the only useable kennels in our facility. After we cleared the obstacles required to move back into our veterinary hospital this winter, we shifted our focus towards re-securing the area surrounding the dog kennels, including repairing broken kennels, and adding the necessities to accommodate our dogs and our staff. Kitchen, laundry and storage facilities, which were once located inside the main building, are now off-limits due to the damage sustained during the fire. So with the outer kennels as our only resource area for dogs, our staff got creative! Unusable kennels were converted to utility stations for dish washing, a makeshift counter for food prep was built out of an old sink, and storage areas for dog training equipment, bedding, toys and supplies were created. Finally, veterinary staff made room inside the hospital to accommodate a small office where staff is able to track the care and training of our dogs.
The long-awaited first canine residents of our revitalized kennels arrived shortly after the completion of this project. Chaps, a senior Cocker Spaniel, had been experiencing anxiety in a foster home and needed a more solid routine. Oona, an oversized puppy needing some consistent basic training in manners, quickly moved in alongside him. And just this week, our dog staff admitted six more new dog residents from local municipal animal shelters, giving us the fullest house we have had since before the fire.
While we are utilizing dog foster homes for puppies and special situations and will continue to do so, it's our goal to continue housing dogs to our full capacity in the kennels. Although the shelter is only a temporary dwelling for our dogs on the way to their permanent homes and families, we are excited to be able to care for them onsite once again!
Thank you for helping us continue to make progress towards recovery since the fire. We will provide you with ongoing updates and keep you informed about our status. Your enduring support enables us to keep saving lives!
April: Mutts and Meows NewsApril 21, 2011
Thank you for your unwavering support of our life-saving efforts. Unfortunately, due to last year’s fire and the damage to our animal housing areas, we can house only limited numbers of animals on site during the week. We rely heavily on foster volunteers to care for our animals in their homes so that we can continue our vital work.
The animals in our community need our help throughout the year, but especially in spring. Every year at this time, hundreds of underage kittens enter local shelters in need of medical attention, foster homes, and special care. Many of these tiny kittens are orphans, and so young that they need to be bottle fed every few hours. We are constantly recruiting and training new foster volunteers and expanding our capacity to house kittens and other animals who need us.
Many municipal shelters do not have the resources to handle this flood of underage kittens on their own. We work hand-in-hand with Berkeley Animal Care Services (BACS) and other local municipal shelters to transfer these kittens into our program so that they can be housed in our foster care program and receive care through our veterinary hospital. We want to ensure that they all have a chance at finding their forever homes!
The abundance of kittens during spring makes it even more difficult for local shelters to handle the number of older animals that are relinquished during this season. Just as we are searching for foster homes for underage kittens, we are simultaneously looking for foster homes for adult dogs and cats so that we can transfer them into our program and give our partner shelters some much needed space for incoming animals. If you are interested in becoming a foster volunteer, please click here to learn more about our Foster Care Program or to fill out an application.
Thank you again for your support and for allowing us to do more to save more!
February: Mutts and Meows NewsFebruary 10, 2011
In 2011, hundreds of animals will get a second chance and we will be there every step of the way to make it happen. We want to keep our animals happy and healthy while they are within our care and then place them into loving homes. We thrive on our success stories and we have many stories to share. Check out our Success Stories page. These are just a few that have recently taken place in our program!
Despite a major setback from last year’s devastating fire, we are committed to rebuilding a facility that will keep our animals safe and allow us to do more to save more. This process will take time and in the meantime, we will continue to work hard for the animals who need us.
We are thrilled to be back in our hospital (which was not damaged by the fire), and that we are able to provide much needed medical care to each animal we save. The animals that come to BEBHS are from local and overcrowded municipal shelters. When they arrive, we immediately provide them with medical attention and find them foster homes where they will get a lot of love and TLC. We are also performing spay and neuter surgeries for pets owned by low-income members of our community, now that we are back in the hospital. This action helps to significantly curb the pet overpopulation problem that plagues our shelters with unwanted pets.
We know you care about animals and their welfare as much as we do. Thank you for supporting BEBHS and for helping us get back on our paws – we are forever grateful!
We're Back to Saving LivesNovember 1, 2010
Well, we realize you're probably curious to hear our latest news and we're excited to share it. But, before we launch into the details we wanted to let you know how much we appreciate your unwavering support during these difficult months, especially since May. Thank you!
Okay, here's the latest and greatest scoop. Recently, the Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society officially re-launched our core programs with the arrival of two adorable puppies, nine cuddly kittens, and a momma cat. Since the fire on May 20, 2010, we adopted out 102 dogs and cats and have saved 45 more who are currently waiting for forever homes. The only services we were able to offer uninterrupted after the fire are dog training, PAWS/East Bay and Pet Food Pantry programs.
As you can imagine, we are thrilled to get back to saving homeless animals. We will continue to utilize foster families while we fix portions of the building and start to rebuild—it’s the best interim solution for the animals. However, doing what we do best, saving lives, can be expensive. Some need more medical attention, while others might just need a little extra TLC. All the dogs and cats are spayed and neutered, provided with exceptional medical care and are assessed individually to help modify behavior and enrichment activities to keep them stimulated and happy within their environment.
We received over 4,000 gifts and raised $600,000 for the Shelter Fire Relief Fund and we are grateful for and humbled by the outpouring of support. The donations we received after the fire have been designated to help us rebuild. Based on preliminary estimates, the complete rebuilding process is expected to cost over $4 million, due to the age and condition of the more than 80-year-old building.
Now that we are ramping up our efforts, we need your help once again. Please consider one of the many ways you can make a difference. You can make a monetary donation, adopt, volunteer your time, become a foster parent, attend our events, or buy our Save and Rebuild merchandise and wear it to help raise awareness for our cause.
We hope you and your furry friends (and non-furry ones, too!) are doing well. Everyone here at the Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society wishes you the best. And be sure to watch out for more information from us in the coming months.
Making Progress...August 11, 2010
Recently, we just received clearance from the City of Berkeley to return to the BEBHS hospital facility and outdoor dog kennels. The reoccupation of these areas is still contingent on a number of procedural tasks being completed, but we are optimistic that we will be able to begin cleanup this month or early September.
While this news is cause for celebration, it does not have any bearing on the shelter portion of the BEBHS facility. We are able to reoccupy the hospital only because it did not suffer any structural damage from the fire. The shelter and administrative offices, by contrast, were destroyed. The resumption of veterinary services will allow us to gradually take new animals into the system, but we lost all of our cat housing in the fire and must continue to house cats in foster homes during non-adoption hours. Our plans include sharing of the hospital space during limited adoption hours so we can continue to run an adoption program while we work on long-term plans for rebuilding.
If you are interested in providing foster care, more information can be found here.
Fire UpdateJuly 16, 2010
While we are working on recovering from the tragic fire we experienced in May, we are also continuing to move forward. Our 13th Annual Bay to Barkers Dog Walk & Festival Fundraiser will be held on Sunday, August 1 at Golden Gate Fields in Albany. Adoption events are being held each weekend to find homes for our shelter animals - check out our Mobile Adoptions page to see when you can meet our loving cats and dogs. Also, since January staff has been working with a professional web designer who has donated his services to revamp our website, which we hope to launch soon. We hope you will join us at Bay to Barkers and we will continue to keep you updated on our progress...