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Before you buy, adopt: Give a Richmond pet a home for the holidays

on December 14, 2011

With the holidays coming up, it’s time to start planning something special for family members, spouses and friends.

But a gift for your loved one can also be the greatest gift of all for an adoptable pet — a home.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that five to seven million animals enter shelters every year, and December is one of the slowest months for adoptions. Potential adoptees are busy with holiday obligations or travel and don’t have time to acclimate a pet to a new environment. Meanwhile, the shelters fill up and these animals might lose their chance at a new life.

There are a number of specialized animal rescue groups throughout Richmond that take these critters in need, care for them and offer them as adoptions to suitable homes. And one of these special pets might be right for you.

Good News Pittie Pups Rescue

2369 Brooks Ave. e-mail:

Pittie Pups offers pit bulls and mixes from the group’s Richmond location and foster homes throughout the area.

While some of the dogs were abandoned, others were subject to abuse and neglect.

A pit bull and labrador retriever mix available through Pittie Pups, Daphne, made the news earlier this year when she was found in a Berkeley parking lot. Vets discovered that she had been shot 38 times with a BB gun and had her ears partially cut off.

There are a large number of unwanted dogs in the area, in part, because many owners choose not to spay or neuter.

“It doesn’t make any sense for them to buy a dog and then not make their money back,” said Lori Gardner Wilson, founder of Pittie Pups.

Wilson said a well-bred, male pit bull with papers can sell from anywhere from $700-2,500.

Wilson rescued one of the currently available dogs, Tommy, after he was found with a severely atrophied leg, probably the result of being hit with a car and not being given proper medical attention. He had just recovered from leg surgery when the original owners spotted her walking the dog and asked for him back.

“They said, ‘Oh, he’s neutered? We don’t want him then,’” Wilson said. “So they turned down a dog they’d had since he was a puppy.”

Although pit bulls have a reputation for being aggressive, Wilson said they’re actually incredibly loyal and affectionate. One of her dogs, Bullet, kept trying to cuddle with her throughout the interview.

But this breed of dog does need a particular kind of owner.

“I like to have them go to a jogger, someone who’s active and can tire the dogs out more,” she said. “But also someone who’s very firm. They’re not a dog that you can throw in with five or six other dogs and expect everything to be okay.”

Wilson requires a home inspection for potential adoptees. Although the adoption fee is usually $185, Wilson said she is lowering it to $101 for the holidays.


House Rabbit Society

148 Broadway, (510) 970-7575

The House Rabbit Society building on Broadway is actually the national headquarters of the group and has been there since 1998.

The local HRS currently has 35-40 adoptable rabbits. The group pulls bunnies from shelters all the way from Santa Cruz to Solano.

Just a few of the bunnies available for adoption at the HRC. (photo by: Lexi Pandell)

“All are rabbits that have run out of time there,” Shelter Manager Elizabeth Berg said.

Many owners leave bunnies outside, thinking they can fend for themselves. Animal Control brings the abandoned rabbits to shelters if they can find them before they’re killed by a predator, hit by a car or otherwise fatally injured. Some rabbits are purchased at flea markets or fairs and, after not being spayed or neutered, produce a litter that the owners don’t know how to care for.

Other bunnies are the product of the bad economy — abandoned in foreclosed homes or simply given away.

One of the HRS’ adoptables, Sojourner, was brought into a Dublin shelter covered in motor oil. After being dumped, she hid under a car for shelter. Today, she’s back to good health and is still outgoing around people.

Bunnies are suitable for houses or apartments and can be trained to use a litterbox. Families with really young or boisterous children may not be the best for rabbits, which prefer quiet environments. However, with the right supervision, bunnies can be great family pets.

Those interested in adopting rabbits can arrange appointments to learn about proper care and meet some of the adoptable bunnies. The HRS requires potential adoptees to take 24-hours minimum to consider the commitment and prepare their home for the new pet.

“Hamsters live for two years, rabbits live for 10,” Berg said. “It’s not a short-term commitment. It’s pretty comparable to having a dog.”

It costs $70 for a single rabbit and $100 for a pair. Because rabbits form such strong attachments to each other, it’s important to keep two rabbits together if they’ve bonded.


Bee Holistic Cat Rescue and Care

6073 Felix Ave,

Cynthia Burke started taking cats in about 25 years ago and most of the felines in her care are from Richmond. She has a number of kittens and teenage cats for adoption in addition to a few cats that are full grown.

Many people coming to adopt cats are most interested in kittens, Burke said, partially because they can be so endearing.

One of the available cats at Bee Holistic. (photo by: Lexi Pandell)

“We’re hardwired to take care of little things,” she said.

One of the cats, a tiny black kitten named Luigi, came from an abandoned litter of five. While two of his siblings were adopted, Luigi and two of his other litter-mates are waiting for a family once they get old enough.

Like with dogs, one of the biggest causes of unwanted cats is a failure to spay and neuter. But some have more unusual circumstances.

A big orange cat named Dewey was most likely kicked out of a senior nursing unit in Richmond after his owner died.

“When seniors die, their cats are often put out,” Burke said as she stroked a purring Dewey. “He was clearly someone’s beloved cat.”

Burke feeds her cats only raw, organic food and requires that adoptees do the same. Cats must also be allowed access to a safe outdoor space.

Because Burke asks adoptees to treat the cats holistically, she is available to teach potential adoptees about that special type of natural care.



Other local groups that provide animal adoptions include:

Contra Costa County Animal Services in Martinez– 4800 Imhoff Way, (925) 335-8300
Contra Costa County Animal Services in Pinole– 910 San Pablo Ave., (510) 374-3966
Contra Costa Humane Society– (925) 279 2247
Contra Costa SPCA– (925) 825-5156

Photos in the cat slideshow are courtesy of Bee Holistic Cat Rescue and Care


  1. PJ on December 15, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Great story and a great reminder. Thank you!

    • Lexi Pandell on December 16, 2011 at 12:53 pm

      Thanks for reading and commenting, PJ.

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