Tag Archives: Animals in Berkeley

The barber’s dog: Kindness of strangers ends the tale

photo credit Melani Schweder
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This is the third and final part of the barber’s dog story. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Leslie Smith volunteers at the Berkeley Animal Shelter. One day she stumbles upon a Fella. He’s filthy, smelly, and appears to be neglected. Smith starts visiting the dog in her lunch-hours, playing with him through the chain-link fence and bringing him treats. Her ministrations are noticed, and, eventually, she is asked if she wants to take Fella home. Smith can’t bring Fella to her own home so sets out to try to find someone who can. Read more about the shelter in past Berkeleyside coverage.

By Leslie Smith

Oakland, a week before Christmas. The wind is insane and the sky spews giant marbles we’re supposed to believe are raindrops. All I can think of is the barber’s dog, seeking cover under the truck or crouched at the back of his door-less doghouse, no bedding or insulation of any kind. My only solace is knowing that this miserable stretch for him has an expiration date.

I call him the barber’s dog because he lives on a cement lot next door to a barbershop, but if you want to get technical, Fella doesn’t belong to the barber. The owner of the shop — a young woman — rents the space from the dog’s legal owner, a man who doesn’t even live in Oakland. It’s through her that I leave notes for this absent guardian, offering to walk his dog or drop off flea powder. And she’s the one, back in September, who gives me the only message I’ve ever gotten back: “You can have Fella if you want him.”

I want him badly, but my house is at capacity, animal-wise. So the search is on.

It’s early December when Nancy emails, asking if I’m still looking for a home or group to take the barber’s dog. Nancy runs one of the most highly-regarded pit bull-focused rescue and advocacy organizations in the nation — ColoRADogs — out of Fort Collins, Colorado. We’d met in person only a couple of times, but she’d been following his story. … Continue reading »

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The barber’s dog, it turns out, has another friend

Fella, the neglected dog, on a lot behind a fence in Oakland. Photo: Leslie Smith
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This is Part 2 in a three-part series. Read Part 1.

Leslie Smith volunteers at the Berkeley Animal Shelter. One day she stumbles upon a dog who, as she describes it, is filthy, smelly, and appeared to be neglected. Smith takes pity on the sorry-looking dog. She identifies its owner as the barber whose shop is on the lot where Fella, the dog, spends his days. She begins visiting Fella, bringing him toys. But, when she asks if she can walk him occasionally, she is turned down. Read the final part of the story tomorrow. Read more about the shelter in past Berkeleyside coverage.

By Leslie Smith

The barber’s dog has fleas.

This is a recent development and the situation has begun to impact our time together. We used to while away the lunch hour playing a game. (I toss a treat through the fence. He sniffs around earnestly to find it. Repeat.) These days, he’s only good for a few tosses before he goes back to biting at his hind legs. Or wriggling on his back against the gritty cement.

When he’s close enough for me to assist, I reach in and scratch that flea-infested dermis. I doubt a veterinarian would say that’s the healthiest approach for him in the long run, but I’m desperate for the barber’s dog to know some relief.  … Continue reading »

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The barber’s dog, and one woman’s bid to save him

Through the fence. Photo: Leslie Smith
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Leslie Smith volunteers at the Berkeley Animal Shelter. One day, while walking in Oakland, Smith stumbled upon a dog who, as she describes it, was filthy, smelly, and appeared to be neglected. He relished her attention, however. Below is the first part of the story of what happened after Smith took pity on the sorry-looking dog. We will publish the next two parts over the next few days, serial-style. Read more about the shelter in past Berkeleyside coverage.

By Leslie Smith

The barber’s dog has no hair. Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration. But there are big bald patches on his back and hind legs and his right eye is practically crusted shut. The dog is so filthy I can smell him in the open air from behind the chain link fence. I reach my hand close enough for him to sniff. He’s shy at first, almost disbelieving, but pretty soon we’re pals. He makes pig-like, happy cooing sounds as I pet him. I make happy cooing sounds too.

It’s early in the morning and a woman on a bike stops at the curb and looks at us.

It’s awkward, so after a moment I ask, “Do you know this dog? Do you know who he belongs to?” … Continue reading »

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Grumpy Cat comes to Berkeley Humane in style, fanfare

Grumpy Cat, held by her owner Tabatha Bundesen, poses with City Councilmember Linda Maio and Berkeley Chamber of Commerce CEO Polly Armstrong before the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Photo: Seung Y. Lee
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With a police-escorted motorcade fit for a foreign ambassador or an A-list Hollywood star, viral internet star Grumpy Cat rolled into Berkeley in style Saturday afternoon.

Hundreds of fans waited outside Berkeley Humane at 2700 9th St. to catch a glimpse of Grumpy Cat, who has a permanent scowl on her face and millions of fans on social media. Tucked in the arms of her owner, Tabatha Bundesen, Grumpy Cat oversaw the ribbon-cutting ceremony of Berkeley Humane’s new mobile adoption center.

Following the ceremony, Grumpy Cat held a private photo session with her fans. Tickets for an up close and personal were reserved long before Saturday. The opportunity to take a photo of Grumpy Cat — or with, for the lucky fans who registered for the photo session in time — drew residents from beyond the Bay Area. … Continue reading »

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Viral internet star Grumpy Cat comes to Berkeley

Grumpy Cat, the feline internet sensation, will be visiting Berkeley Humane this Saturday. Photo: Scott Beale/ Creative Commons
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Grumpy Cat, the cantankerous cat with a permanent scowl and more than 7 million Facebook likes, will grace Berkeley with her presence for the first time this Saturday afternoon.

Arguably the most famous cat on the internet, Grumpy Cat will be present for Berkeley Humane‘s ribbon-cutting ceremony of the new mobile animal adoption center at 2700 Ninth St. at noon. After the ceremony, Grumpy Cat will have a private photo session with her fans at 1 p.m. The event has already sold out.

After Grumpy Cat challenged her fans with a #GrumpyTownUSA contest following the launch of her second book “The Grumpy Guide to Life” (both books are New York Times bestsellers), Berkeley Humane led a campaign with support from Mayor Tom Bates, the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce and the Berkeley Police Association to bring Grumpy Cat to Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Flying high again: Golden eagle returns to East Bay skies

Photo: Elaine Miller Bond
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Last September, while working on an article for Berkeleyside, I took a short trip to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek. My mission there was purely amphibious: to photograph western toads that the museum keeps on display.

The toads were cute, for sure.

But soon, my experience turned from amphibious to serendipitous.

For I was the lucky photographer who happened to be at the museum when a golden eagle was brought through its doors. … Continue reading »

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At 2014 Christmas Bird Count — no rain, much fun

Varied Thrush at Albany Hill / Photo by Alan Krakauer
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The Bay Area’s welcome rainstorms let up for 24 hours on Sunday Dec. 14… just long enough for more than 200 birders to have a fabulous Oakland Christmas Bird Count.

Both novice and experienced birders fanned out over a 15-mile-wide circle including Oakland, Berkeley, Albany and neighboring cities, as part of Audubon’s 115th annual Christmas Bird Count.

Advance registration came to 287 people, a new record for the Oakland count, which was organized by the Golden Gate Audubon Society. Last year the Oakland count was the fourth largest in North America, and this year’s count is likely to be in the top five again. … Continue reading »

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Going green: Frog conservation finds new HQ in Berkeley

Frog. Elaine Miller Bond4387.720pix
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For a long time, I’ve wanted to write an article on frogs for Berkeleyside. In fact, my first “kiss” came from a frog in Tilden Park. It jumped to my lips as I drank water from a fountain on a scorching-hot day at summer camp.

But that was the 1970s. Frogs were more common then. Loud throaty choruses of Pacific treefrogs kept me awake (in a good way) on spring nights, and tiny tadpoles wiggled through the algae-laden waters of a ditch along my street in Kensington. … Continue reading »

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All aflutter: Berkeley insect lovers celebrate 40th year counting butterflies

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A hummingbird whirrs by, as a squirrel flicks its tail, flirting. A robin fluffs its feathers after bathing in the stream. Leopard lilies, columbines, even the cacti are in full summery bloom. But today, at the Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Park, we’re here for the butterflies.

Alan Kaplan, an entomologist, educator, and retired Tilden Park ranger, meets me at the garden’s gate, where, already, I have spotted maybe five different types of butterfly, from a teensy so-called “blue” to a glamorous pipevine swallowtail.

Still, there are rules for counting butterflies in nature. So Kaplan gives me the rundown of the day’s event — the Fourth of July Butterfly Count (currently run by the North American Butterfly Association (NABA) — held for its fortieth continuous year in Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Government

Berkeley animal shelter budget raises questions

The animal shelter's grand opening celebration takes place at 1 Bolivar Drive on Saturday. Scroll to the bottom of the story for details. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Community supporters of Berkeley’s municipal animal shelter have been raising alarm bells about the shelter’s budget for the coming fiscal year — and their concerns about the city’s lack of budgeting transparency are broadly shared.

The proposed budget for the fiscal year that starts in July is $1.69 million, which is comparable to what the shelter ultimately got in the fiscal year that ends this month, City Manager Christine Daniel told city officials by email May 27.

But shelter supporters say that amount has not been enough to cover operating costs, and fear the shelter may be forced to close one day a week or more as a result. They say the shelter has struggled to cover increased utility costs in its new, larger space, which has a sophisticated air filtration system to cut down on the spread of diseases. Supporters say, too, that services the city used to pay for, including a spay-and-neuter program for low-income residents as well as training for pit bull owners, now must be funded through community donations.

The budget has come before council and the public several times since May 20, and is expected to be approved next week.

According to city spokesman Matthai Chakko, a detailed budget that would show utility costs for the Dona Spring Municipal Animal Shelter is not available: “The budget doesn’t have line items to that degree,” he said via email. Chakko said animal shelter director Kate O’Connor was not available last week for an interview. He said the shelter is “fully funded,” but did not respond to questions about whether the shelter might have to reduce its hours. (The facility is currently open seven days a week.)

The lack of transparency has been a bone of contention for shelter supporters, particularly those who worked to help build the new shelter and fund some of its services. … Continue reading »

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New Pints for Paws fest will benefit Berkeley Humane

Berkeley East Bay Humane society at 9th and Carleton. Photo: Jasper Burget
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Cats, dogs, and beer don’t often come up in the same sentence, but that could soon change thanks to a unique fundraising event for Berkeley Humane.

The Pints for Paws beer festival on June 7 at the Urban Adamah farm at 1050 Parker St. will bring together many well-loved elements: dogs, cats, humans, and brewer’s yeast. There will be a selection of 80 craft beers from more than 20 breweries, and attendees are encouraged to bring their (on leash) dogs.

Highlights from the festival include the chance to meet local artisanal craft brewers, cider makers, and wine makers and a wide range of delicious food will be provided by local food trucks and vendors. There will also be live music to bring the whole event to the next level. … Continue reading »

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Friends in high places: Peregrine falcons soar above us

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Not long ago, Berkeleyside reader Patrick Hickey kindly sent in a photo of a beautiful bird of prey, perched on a tall building near his home in downtown Berkeley. I had my own suspicions (and sense of elation) over what kind of bird it might be. Then Rusty Scalf, teacher and trip leader for the Golden Gate Audubon Society, confirmed it: the bird was a peregrine falcon — the fastest animal on Earth. In California, not long ago, it was also one of the most endangered. … Continue reading »

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Nature

Update: Unhappy ending for crow rescued in Berkeley

Crows in flight. Before they took to the air, they were calling to one another and hanging out in pairs in bare trees. Location: Fairfax. Photo: Elaine Miller Bond
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A city animal control officer rescued an injured crow Thursday afternoon after it got tangled in a piece of string and stuck in a tree 40 feet off the ground in West Berkeley.

Workers in an office building called the city Thursday at roughly 2:10 p.m. after noticing the bird struggling but unable to take flight, said John Kindle, an animal control officer for the city.

The Berkeley Fire Department responded to the scene, at 700 Heinz St., along with Kindle, to assess the situation.

When Kindle arrived, he used binoculars to take a closer look. He saw the crow high up in the tree with what appeared to be string tied to a branch and wrapped around one of its claws. … Continue reading »

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