Small senior dog victories: Two-bag dog walks
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Thanks to the spirit of a little dog and collaborative partnerships, Maddie's Pet Adoption Days sets goal of 10,000 qualified homes for pets

I have had an amazing big dog in my life for over eight years now. She’s beautiful, full of personality and an endless source of inspiration. She also happens to now be old, arthritic, blind and diabetic, but, if I saw her for the first time today, I would adopt her all over again. The incredible joy she brings into our family is worth the heartache from knowing her life with us will never be long enough.

My dog Cleo is a big reason behind my interest in supporting and promoting Maddie’s Pet Adoption Days. I look into Cleo's eyes and see the face of a dog who knows she's loved. I want other people interested in bringing a dog, or cat, into their family to consider adopting a senior or disabled pet. Did you know the financial support going to the 200 participating shelters and rescue agencies -- in 591 cities across the U.S. -- includes a $2,000 per adoption of medically treatable and senior dogs and cats?


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Grouchy Puppy Founder, Sharon with Cleo, adopted from the SF/SPCA

"Having a senior dog is like fast-forwarding to the good part."


Did you know the love and companionship of a dog inspired a family to do something big in honor of her positive influence over their lives? I’m not talking about my dog Cleo inspiring the creation of Grouchy Puppy either. No, I’m referring to a little dog named Maddie whose legacy is revolutionizing the status and well-being of companion animals.

Maddie’s Pet Adoption Days will be held the weekend of May 31 – June 1, 2014

Maddie’s Pet Adoption Days has become the largest free collaborative adoption program in the U.S. I went to the kick-off two weeks ago, which also was Maddie's birthday, to learn from the Maddie’s Fund leadership team what’s behind this gigantic adoption event, how they come up with the list of participating groups and why the adoptions are free. 

What's really behind the adoption weekend?

A Miniature Schnauzer named Maddie inspired a $300 million legacy dedicated to giving every dog and cat in the United States what she had: a loving home. This year, $10 million of that legacy will go to Maddie's® Pet Adoption Days, a free pet adoption event for the nation's homeless dogs and cats, now in its fifth year.

Maddie was a beloved four-legged family member of David Duffield, founder of Workday® and PeopleSoft, and his wife, Cheryl. For the last four years, Maddie's Fund®, their family's foundation, has sponsored Maddie's® Pet Adoption Days to honor her memory.

"When we look into the eyes of the dogs and cats at the adoption event, we see Maddie's spirit in every one of them," says Duffield. "We want all of them to have a chance to inspire, love and enrich the lives of their future families the way Maddie did ours."


"We want this two day weekend to be the best ever. The best ever for you, and for the cats and dogs you devote your time to, whose lives are in your hands."  -- President, Rich Avanzino to participants at Maddie's birthday party and adoption event kick-off.


How did you come up with the participants? Only Richmond, VA and Mobile County, AL seem to represent the South during the adoption weekend. 

Amy Zeifang, Board Chairman: "We’ve been selective as to how we’ve expanded the program. Our initial focus was in the Bay Area because it is where we have most of our contacts, partnerships and alliances. We’ve expanded into new communities this year like Mobile County, AL and Maricopa County, AZ but we already had a long history with them through our funding of their agencies and shelters through community collaborative grants. We've been working with these agencies and shelters for years, we know the work that they can get done, and that they will be successful with this program. It's not that we haven't not looked to the South or the Midwest, it's that we looked to where we had the relationships. Long standing relationships is the focus such as NY rescues and shelters."



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Maddie's Fund Leadership [L-R: Zeifang, Duffield, Avanzino]


Why do you think there is so little participation from groups in Southern states? Are there unique challenges to increasing participation?

Rich Avanzino, President: "Maddie’s Fund is always encouraging collaboration. We want to have public disclosure of animals that are handled so that the public sees success to the extent that the organization can see where they might invest more money to do a better job. We believe in public statistics because it leads to accountability. The focus is on saving lives, so if the organization is willing to collaborate then we can set aside any differences."

Dave Duffield, Founder: "This is a lot of work for the participating organizations. There is training, organization & reporting. Maddie’s Fund wants to be successful. We view it as smart business. We want to save lives but do it in the right way, to use what is limited resources to the maximum potential for the animals and that takes work and organization."

Why are the adoptions free this weekend?

The money given by Maddie’s Fund enables shelters to treat and rehabilitate senior pets and those with minor medical conditions – animals who would have probably been euthanized otherwise.

Rich Avanzino: “Everyone who has pets know the love we get from our companions. We think because of the talents these participating rescue groups bring, we can empty the shelters this weekend. This is the time to celebrate the companion animals in our lives. Each shelter and rescue is providing an adoption guarantee for every dog and cat adopted thanks to Maddie’s family. Maddie's Fund wants to finance the work these shelters and agencies are doing this weekend and throughout the year. It's collaborative. Because of what they do, and are doing, we can focus on what's important, which is finding every adoptable pet a home -- that includes the overlooked seniors and disabled dogs and cats. We are close to becoming a no-kill nation."

Maddie's Fund has earmarked $10 million as a way to give back to the participating organizations, donating up to $2,000 per adopted dog or cat.

The goal of the event is to find loving homes for 10,000 homeless dogs and cats over the weekend by waiving all adoption fees for the public.


Maddie’s Pet Adoption Days will be held the weekend of May 31 – June 1, 2014

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