It was Tuesday, the day after the first shelter-in-place mandate arrived in the Bay Area. We were scrambling to quickly suspend most of our services, reassign some of our staff to animal care duties, and find foster homes for the animals in our shelter. And then we got the call.
One of our shelter rescue partners in the area needed help with a number of dogs in their shelter. Most of the dogs had medical issues, and one was heavily pregnant and due to give birth any day. They asked if we could take them, and despite everything else going on, we said yes. The next day, we brought in a group of dogs, including Winnie.
At first glance, Winnie didn’t seem unusual. She appeared to be a healthy, outgoing 4-month-old Australian Shepherd mix puppy. But on closer inspection, there seemed to be something odd about her eyes and mouth. Her eyes were tiny, and it didn’t take long for us to realize that she was having some trouble seeing. She also had a significant overbite, causing her lower teeth to damage her upper jaw. We got Winnie into surgery to try to fix some of her jaw issues by removing the teeth that were causing damage.
After surgery, Winnie needed to spend some time recovering. We decided she would thrive best in a foster home that could not only help her recover, but help us understand her vision limitations. She was placed in foster with Stephanie, who went from education student to medical intern, and spends most of her school breaks shadowing our medical team. Stephanie is currently an undergrad, but is hoping to someday become a veterinarian, so we knew Winnie would be excellent hands with her.
We were right. Winnie adapted to life with Stephanie quickly, and Stephanie got to work on Winnie’s puppy manners, crate training, and figuring out what, if any, limitations she had. It turned out that Winnie’s vision was better than we thought. She could see most things up close, but struggled with objects further away. Stephanie soon learned that Winnie was super sweet and friendly, incredibly smart, and loved meeting other dogs.
After a few weeks with Stephanie, Winnie was more than ready to find her forever home. We were just about to finalize our virtual adoption process, and Stephanie had already found a family that was excited about the potential of adding Winnie to their home. We decided to test our new virtual process with Winnie, and the family (virtually) fell completely in love with her. At the beginning of April, Winnie became one of the first animals to be adopted through our new process!
We are so grateful that despite everything going on during this challenging time, we are still able to help our rescue partners and take in animals that need us most.
As shelter-in-place continues and things evolve, one thing won’t change: our dedication to the animals in our community and beyond.