Thanks. Just, Thanks.

This is the memo board in our storefront at Newpark Mall where we held our adoption clinic as part of Maddie’s Matchmaker Adoptathon.  The final count (I believe) was 61 adoptions.  Maddie’s Fund gives us $500 for each of those.  The people who saved $100 (the usual adoption fee) think they got a good deal, but for us . . .

Do I even need to say what $500 per adoption means to a small, animal rescue group?  It means hundreds of feral cats being spayed and neutered, it means food, litter and medication for the kittens we foster, and it means being able to provide the same to the people who find a litter, want to foster it, but cannot afford to have them all treated for the various ailments that kittens born free-roaming are inclined to have.

It means we’re in business for another year.  (It means I am thinking of buying a $140 drop trap with a specially made carrier that attaches to it, and giving PCR the bill.)

We’re grateful to so many people—first and foremost to Dave Duffield and his family, the founders of Maddie’s Fund, and all the people who run that remarkable foundation.  Reality TV has led us to believe that the majority of people with money are using it to become famous, then using that fame to get themselves even more money, but some people with deep pockets are actually doing something useful with their good fortune; they’re spreading it around.

There are really no words that can do justice to how much this means to our group, but I don’t think it really matters.  Maddie comprises people who have not just seen— but worked, in the shelters and rescues, not just read— but written, the statistics, and people who have had the firsthand experience of adopting a pet.  They know what this means to us.

We’re grateful to those who adopt from us.  After a bad week— a litter that could not be socialized being put back out as spayed ferals, a sick kitten dying, finding an animal that was neglected or abused— the sight of someone walking out our door with a cardboard carrier in their hand and a smile on their face is sometimes the one thing that makes it bearable.

We’re grateful to the fosters who bottle-feed kittens, administer pills, clean up vomit and feces, give up whole rooms in their homes to house the cats, arrange vacations around kitten season, and still manage to retain their sense of humor and remember why they ever agreed to do this job.

We’re grateful to the people at our local Starbuck’s and the farmers market who allowed us to post our flyers, and told people to stop by and see the cats.  We didn’t take the time this weekend to ask people how they found us but I’m sure at least a few kittens were adopted because of some help from our neighbors.

We’re grateful to the people at Newpark Mall who think enough of our group and of our efforts to provide us an empty store as a permanent location.  Unless you have ever set up an entire adoption clinic and dismantled it a couple of hours later (often after a day without a single adoption), you cannot imagine how much we love being able to simply gather the cats, turn off the lights, and go home.  (It’s like someone from the 17th century waking up one day and finding indoor plumbing has been invented.)

We’re grateful to the veterinarians who provide us with medical care for far less than the going rate and doing it with the same level of skill and compassion they afford their patients who pay full price.  And we’re grateful to their techs and office staff who have to deal with our phone calls, with the plethora of paperwork required of a non-profit, and with our foster cats and kittens who are not always the most agreeable animals when we first get them.

There are a many more who help us in myriad ways, and we thank you all.  Not just now, after our very important and profitable weekend, but also on the other 51 weekends a year when we hold our adoption clinics without the promise of anything more than maybe a new home for one of our charges.

Maddie

Maddie was— and is, a special dog.  A miniature schnauzer who was a loving pet to her caretakers Dave and Cheryl Duffield, they adopted her when she was just days old; she went on to spend 10 years with them.  At the time, Dave was forming an organization called PeopleSoft.  One day while playing with her, he picked her up and promised that if he ever managed to make money on his new project he would spend some of it on other animals like her in need of a home.

Over the past several years, they kept their promise to Maddie, spending close to a hundred million dollars to save cats and dogs.  Maddie’s Fund has benefitted numerous organizations and, of course, thousands of animals; once a year they pull out all the stops. This year Maddie’s Adoptathon will be held June 9 and 10.  It’s one of (if not) the largest single weekend pet adoption event in the country.  This year over 60 pet rescues and shelters are taking part.

The long and the short of it is this: Pet rescues and shelters charge an adoption fee to help cover the costs of spaying, neutering, vaccinations and general care (none of which the donations actually fully cover), but on Maddie’s weekend, the Duffields foot the bill.  Groups like Purrfect Cat not only do not have to charge an adoption fee, we are actually given money by Maddie’s Fund for each animal we adopt out. For small rescues like ours (run out of people’s’ houses and garages on kitchen tables—not boardroom tables), this is a tremendous gift.  Over sixty groups throughout the Bay Area are taking part this year so thousands of cats and dogs will all find a home in a two-day period, and some of those groups might survive another year of operations simply because of the money gained in those two days.

I was lucky enough to attend a lunch earlier this spring hosted by SFSPCA  in preparation for Maddie’s Adoptathon.  Dave Duffield spoke, as did Rich Avanzino, former president of SFSPCA and current president of Maddie’s Fund.  I gained a lot of insight into how much work and how many people are required to organize an event like this, and I felt quite honored that I was asked to attend. A year ago I was just a guy with a cat trap, a pocketful of canned tuna, and absolutely no clue what I was doing stalking feral cats; having lunch with a billionaire who wants to start buying the canned tuna for me is big damn deal.

If you are located in the Bay Area and know someone who might want to adopt a cat or dog, check out the Adoptathon website for a full list of the groups participating.  Additionally, the website has flyers available for downloading and printing (under the “resources” tab).  If you live, work, shop or play somewhere that will allow you to post them, please do.  All the groups taking part would appreciate the extra exposure.

Maddie: by any measure, a pretty inspirational dog.