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Maddie's Fund President Rich Avanzino will retire this summer

There are few people in animal welfare I admire more than this guy, Richard Avanzino. When I first started writing about dogs after adopting my first dog from the San Francisco SPCA, I learned about a man who fought for the life of a little dog named Sido. As the President of the SF/SPCA in 1979, Rich stood firmly against the current California law that allowed someone to “destroy an animal like a piece of furniture." Thanks in part to his efforts, the law was changed and Sido was given a second chance.

"San Francisco Superior Court Judge Jay Pfotenhauer ruled that the right to dispose of property after death does not extend to killing a living creature."

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There is no doubt if my big dog Cleo had been around at the time of Sido, she would have been euthanized, but fortunately perceptions and practices changed, thanks to the work of Rich, the SF/SPCA and Maddie's Fund. I will always be grateful to them.

Maddie’s Fund® announced that its president, Rich Avanzino, will retire this summer [...]

“We truly appreciate everything Rich contributed to Maddie’s Fund—thought leadership, a no-kill purpose, a dedicated and talented team, and a good sense of humor. He is an inspiration to the entire animal welfare movement, and we are grateful for his vision at Maddie’s Fund over the past 17 years,” said Maddie’s Fund co-founder Dave Duffield.

“Under Rich's leadership, Maddie’s Fund introduced concepts and practices not seen before, testing ideas to see what impact they might have,” added Amy Zeifang, Maddie’s Fund Board chair. “Going forward, our Board has empowered a strategically chosen executive team to continue to advance the no-kill legacy and to seek new ways of supporting the adoptions of shelter pets.”

“I am very pleased with the progress Maddie’s Fund has made and the opportunities within reach,” said Avanzino. “We currently need to find homes for an additional 2.4 million dogs and cats a year, and on average, about 17 million people are considering a pet. So if just 14 percent of those people adopted a homeless animal companion, the United States would be a no-kill nation.”

Some of Maddie’s Fund’s most impactful programs include the following:

Shifted the national conversation toward no-kill standards for homeless dogs and cats and community-wide goals and solutions.

Awarded more than $153 million dollars in grants to animal welfare organizations.

Promoted community-wide collaborations focused on pet lifesaving.

Established the first comprehensive shelter medicine program at the University of California Davis, and supported additional shelter medicine programs at the University of Florida, Cornell University, and Purdue University among others.

Sponsored Maddie’s® Pet Adoption Days, an annual weekend-long event in which Maddie’s Fund sponsors the adoptions of pets at participating shelters. Since the program’s inception in 2010, Maddie’s® Pet Adoption Days has supported the adoptions of more than 45,000 homeless dogs and cats.

Focused national attention on the importance of data and delivered the first searchable database that compares shelter data based on the Asilomar Accords from more than 500 animal welfare organizations.

Helped establish a more responsibility- and results-driven venture philanthropy view in the animal welfare industry by requiring that grantees commit to business management practices, including data collection, numerical goals, strategic planning and performance measurement.

Partnered with the Ad Council and The Humane Society of the United States to produce a national public-service advertising campaign promoting the adoption of shelter pets.

Partnered with The Humane Society of the United States to help stop the suffering of breeding dogs and their offspring in puppy mills.

With no-kill now a mainstream ideal, Avanzino decided to step down from the day-to-day operations as president to spend more time with his family. But even in retirement, he intends to stay engaged in animal welfare, promoting the no-kill message and serving as a strategic advisor to Maddie’s Fund. “The opportunity to make a lifesaving difference everyday with Maddie’s Fund has been immeasurable. This will be a new chapter in my life, and I look forward to spending leisure time with my “better half,” three adult kids, eight grandkids, and two adopted “four-legged kids.”

About Maddie’s Fund

Maddie's Fund is a family foundation founded in 1994 by Workday co-founder Dave Duffield and his wife, Cheryl, who have endowed the Foundation with more than $300 million. Since then, they have awarded more than $153 million in grants toward increased community lifesaving, shelter medicine education, and pet adoptions across the U.S. The Duffields named Maddie's Fund after their Miniature Schnauzer Maddie, who always made them laugh and comforted them during stressful business times when Dave was launching a startup software company. Maddie was with Dave and Cheryl from 1987-1997 and continues to inspire them today.

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