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Oakland Cats Get a New Leash on Life

September 22, 2016

East Bay Times

Riley, Tiny, Luna, Lexi, Zoom, Justice, Wonder Bread and her sibling Coffee Mate are waiting, but hopefully not for long.

For now, these cats are hanging out in “kitty condos” at a new fresh and clean adoption facility in Pet Food Express’ store at the Ridge shopping center.

The store has just reopened after being closed while the shopping center at Broadway and Pleasant Valley Avenue at the south end of Oakland’s Rockridge district was remodeled.

The store is celebrating its new adoption center this weekend. The center opened Sept. 14, with about a cat a day being adopted since then.

The adoption process can take as little as half an hour. It includes prospective owners being interviewed by Hopalong and Second Chance, one of the pet supply chain’s partners at the adoption center. Hopalong brings the cats from Oakland Animal Services.

Store Assistant Manager Marek Majeski said the hope is that the adoption center can continue placing another cat every day.

“We’re happy with the attention the center’s gotten so far,” he said Sunday.

Sonja Lindsay, another assistant manager at the store, pointed out some of the adoption center’s amenities, including the condo idea in the facility’s design — the cats perch in individual spaces stacked above and beside each other, with a little furniture provided for their comfort, rather than just a kennel cage.

The store also has a veterinary clinic. In front of it is a fenced-in play area. And in the corner are several coin-operated stations for do-it-yourself dog washing.

Hopalong rescues animals from Lake County to Southern California, with a particular emphasis on drawing from lists of animals that shelters had scheduled for euthanization. In its 22 years, Hopalong has rescued more than 25,000 animals, the organization said.

The group is working with Oakland Animal Services, the city’s shelter, to bring cats to Rockridge after placing them in foster homes long enough to be confident the animals are ready for adoption. The cats are spayed or neutered, have current vaccinations and are microchipped.

The Ridge center facility is the first off-site adoption center for either Oakland Animal Services or Hopalong. It is also the first time Pet Food Express has worked with both a shelter and a rescue group on adoptions, although the company has collaborated with individual groups on adoption efforts at its other Bay Area stores.

Another organization, the Milo Foundation, will be bringing adoptable dogs to the store’s opening celebration this weekend, to bring the adoptable pets available to about 30.

“The whole goal, is not only getting cats into homes, but keeping them there, to not have any adoptable cats euthanized,” Lindsay said as she oversaw the action at the adoption center on Sunday.

Oakland Animal Services picks up about 6,000 animals every year, and the number is growing. But last year, its rate of finding them homes jumped to 85 percent. Five years ago, it was 56 percent, it said.

Pet Food Express is also gearing up for the mid-October Bay Area Pet Fair in Marin County, where tens of thousands of people are expected to show up, Lindsay said. But in the meantime, as another part of the Ridge center store’s opening celebration, those wash stations are free all month.

By Mark Hedin
Contact Mark Hedin at 510-293-2452, 408-759-2132 or mhedin@bayareanewsgroup.com.

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