Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cinderella Dogs Book Review

"Another Opportunity to live, to love and to be loved.... That is what this book is about."

                                      -Roger Caras



Cinderella Dogs is an eye opening and heart-warming book that has touched many hearts.  I was lucky enough to come across this book at a local book sale and just had to read it.  Cinderella Dogs is book filled with the success stories of dogs that've been redeemed as unadoptable, whose lives are justly turned around.  These factual stories all take place in the SPCA of San Francisco, California.  Stories selected by Ed Sayres and Edited by Paul M. Glassner this book reveals so many interesting stories and published nearly a decade ago I was lucky enough to get in touch with Paul Glassner who agreed to do an interview. Although Cinderella Dogs has been out of production for quite some time I had to a review and an interview on this book due to the nature of these stories, in hoping to allow your hearts to open up to seeing the love in all dogs.  No matter their issues regarding health, behavior or age.


My interview with Paul Glassner has been a joyous experience with his co-operation and patience.  His willingness to amuse me by allowing me to interview him is much appreciated. 


1.) Tell us about the San Francisco SPCA.
      Let's start with the official verbiage: The SF/SPCA is a private, independent, nonprofit animal welfare organization dedicated to saving and protecting homeless dogs and cats, providing them with care and treatment, advocating for their welfare, and enhancing the human-animal bond. Founded in 1868, The SF/SPCA is a national leader in saving the lives of companion animals through its pioneering programs. Visit us at sfspca.org.
      If I may translate: The San Francisco SPCA showers kindness on animals no one else takes care of: homeless cats and dogs. We give them our best: Maddie's Adoption Center, opened in 1998, set a new standard for housing "unwanted" animals with individual, large, quiet, light-filled rooms. Utilizing in-house medical and behavior experts, The SF/SPCA rehabilitates and finds homes for thousands of displaced, needy animals every year. Most of these animals come from the city shelter, San Francisco Animal Care and Control, with whom we have an agreement (the Adoption Pact); we guarantee that no adoptable cat or dog will be "put to sleep" (killed) in San Francisco, a startling promise we've kept for 15 years. As a result, San Francisco's "live release rate" (the proportion of animals that survive the shelter experience) is 87 percent. We're doing an impressive job of recycling.
      There's more to the story than that, however. Our relentless spay/neuter efforts have paid off as well; last year, fewer than 6,200 cats and dogs entered San Francisco's shelter system. In fact, The SF/SPCA now imports dogs from outlying shelters, animals that face euthanasia until ferried to San Francisco.
      We also operate the city's busiest animal hospital, the brand-new Leanne Roberts Center, where more than 50 percent of the clients receive financial assistance directly from us. Other SF/SPCA enterprises include a huge foster program that nurtures underage kittens until they're healthy enough for adoption, the city's largest spay/neuter clinic (with free "fixes" for feral cats), and the internationally known Academy for Dog Trainers (with Jean Donaldson as dean).
      All told, The SF/SPCA runs some two dozen specialized services. These include programs for people, such as Animal Assisted Therapy (provided free to more than 100 human-care facilities citywide), Humane Education, and a catalog's worth of dog-training classes offered to the public. Most SF/SPCA services receive invaluable help from - indeed, would essentially not exist without -- hundreds of volunteers, who donate well over 100,000 hours of their time and skills every year. For Be Kind to Animals Week, we put on a food drive for pets of homeless people. And when San Francisco Police Department horses retire, The SF/SPCA looks after them on a private ranch for the rest of their lives.
      All this occurs with no government involvement and zero tax dollars. Our success is possible thanks to the kindness of our supporters.
      Sorry to foam at the mouth, but that's how it is.
2.) What encouraged you to write this book?
      Our Animals, The SF/SPCA's quarterly membership publication, runs a Cinderella story nearly every issue. But the magazine goes only to our supporters. With the book, we wanted to tell some of these stories to the general public. The goal was not merely to call attention to The SF/SPCA, but to inspire people to do the same thing in their own communities. As the introduction says, "If we can do it, you can do it."
3.) Why did you choose these specific adoptions?
      Selecting stories was less a matter of sentimentality than of editorial necessity. To arrive at the book's final count of fewer than 20 tales, we started with around 40. If the adopter wouldn't or couldn't participate, we had to drop that dog's story. We wanted a big variety of animals, from probably pedigreed pooches to "Heinz 57" dogs, and from small and cute to large and troublesome. We also wanted to highlight the variety of adopters, from single people to couples to families, and to showcase The SF/SPCA's many programs. When we finished the shuffle, we had the book.
4.) Have there been any updates with those adoptions that my readers would like to know?
      Goodness, we haven't kept up - we can't. The book went to the printer almost ten years back, and we adopted out 4,000+ cats and dogs last year alone.
5.) Which adoption touched you the most?
      Aw, c'mon, William -- that's like asking a parent, which child is your favorite? Overall, though, I'm struck by the huge hearts of so many of these adopters. The SF/SPCA does amazing things, but we don't trick people into taking an animal nor can we force them to adopt; this book shows that people ARE willing to take on the "tough cases." One of my favorites is the man who can't bear to see the dogs himself because he'll want to take all of them home, so he sends his wife in to look for the most needy dog, and that's the animal they adopt - a used, 75-pound, growling Akita! This is the stuff of novels, almost unbelievably wonderful.
6.) My favorite adoption story that touched me the most was with Claudine Fletcher and Tornado, what ever happened to them?
      I don't know. As I said, it's been nearly ten years. It's our job to prep the animals for adoption and get them into good homes. We follow up with surveys at three weeks and three months. We get some fan mail and happily-ever-after photos, but our goal, frankly, is to never see these cats and dogs again -- which is a good thing!
7.) How often do these Cinderella adoptions occur?
      Every day. Of  last year's 4,000 adoptions, about 1,000 were underage kittens that, most likely, would not have lived, much less found homes. Also, the nearly 900 dogs we fetched from other shelters last year each faced the chopping block until our rescue van showed up. Those two categories alone account for about half our adoptions.
8.) Have you adopted your own Cinderella Pet? If so can you tell us about him/her? Please include a pic if you can. If you haven't tell us about one of yor pets.
      I have two SF/SPCA cats at home; they're cute and wonderful, of course. I adopted them after fostering them - and after The SF/SPCA (and I, as foster parent) put quite a bit of veterinary care into them.
9.) How long have you been with the SPCA?
      25 years.
10.) Why did you start working with the SPCA?
      I answered a want-ad in the paper. I was looking for a job, preferably writing about something I enjoyed. Talk about a perfect fit.
11.) What did you do before?
      This and that. I worked or volunteered with several conservation organizations. Before joining The SF/SPCA, I rode my bicycle across the U.S., and right before that I worked in a print shop for a few years, where I learned the dirty side of publishing (printing presses, etc.).
12.) Although it's been a decade since this book has been published, is there any plan for another one?
      No plans for another book at this point. For one thing, it's no longer necessary! The Web is cheaper, faster and reaches more people (prime example, this blog). Plus, even the last several issues of Our Animals are available atsfspca.org/resources/publications/.





            For more stories like those found in the book Cinderella Dogs please visit sfspca.org/resources/publications/.  I hope these stories can touch your heart as they have touched mine.  Do not forget to visit your local SPCA or animal shelter to write your own Cinderella Story.  Please support your local SPCA or animal shelter.


© Copyright 2009 by William Soberanis. All rights reserved