Keeping pets out of shelters an essential aspect of ARF

Keeping pets out of shelters an essential aspect of ARF
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CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA – Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation’s (ARF) vision is to prevent euthanasia of homeless animals.

When most people think of our mission, they picture our rescue team going into overcrowded, public shelters and filling our vans with needy animals – giving dogs and cats a second chance. With 224 rescue runs last year to 34 shelter partners, our rescue team is busy every week doing just that.

But there is another side, one often forgotten, to animal welfare. We need to remember to ask: Why did these animals end up at a shelter in the first place?

Financial insecurity

For years, ARF has partnered with local shelters and connected directly with the public in Contra Costa County to intervene and provide assistance to pet guardians facing the difficult decision to surrender a pet. What we’ve found is that often the difference between a pet staying in a loving home or being surrendered to a shelter is an unexpected bill or sudden loss of income.

So many families are in extremely strained financial positions right now, yet animals, like humans, cannot plan when they will become sick or develop a tooth abscess. ARF’s assistance programs make a positive impact for animals and those who love them.

During this pandemic, inquiries for ARF’s assistance programs have grown significantly. When guardians are unable to pay a pet rental deposit, provide pet food and supplies or afford medical treatment, they often face the impossible decision of surrendering their pet to a shelter to ensure the animal gets necessary care.

We’re grateful to Banfield Foundation, Maddie’s Fund, PetSmart Charities and individual donors who have provided additional funding to ARF during this critical time as we help families forced to choose between their own needs and a pet’s.

Mental health crisis

Avoiding anguish from the possibly of losing a cherished pet becomes even more essential as human mental health needs expand during this time. While the numbers of those seeking mental health services has soared in recent months, the medical community is predicting a “second wave” mental health crisis attributed to Covid-19 throughout vulnerable populations, including the older adults and lower socioeconomic groups that ARF’s assistance programs serve.

Take Lizzie, an adorable terrier mix. (Details have been changed to protect owner confidentiality.) Lizzie has been with her guardian since she was a young puppy. Unexpected circumstances recently necessitated the pair leaving their home and moving under duress. This left Lizzie’s guardian facing multiple fees, including a substantial pet deposit for new housing.

The client worried that her inability to budget the unforeseen expenses would force her to give up the beloved dog she had raised, but ARF was able to pay the remainder of the pet deposit. Since Lizzie was not yet altered, ARF’s veterinary clinic performed the spay surgery. Lizzie and her guardian have now started their new life together in a new home.

Visit for more information on how you can help or to contact our Resource Center for assistance and advice. Elena Bicker is the Executive Director of Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation. She can be reached at (925) 256-1ARF (1273)

ARF Adoption Stars for November

Kirk and Calcifer.

Looking for a furry friend during this trying time? Good news — ARF is now offering a no-contact, virtual adoption process! If you see an animal you’re interested in on our website, just fill out an online inquiry form. Once your inquiry has been received, you will be added to our virtual adoption queue.


Eleven-year-old Kirk, an older gentlemen, has a heart of gold. This happy guy wants nothing more than to love and be loved in return. His favorite things include snuggles, leisurely strolls, and cozy naps. As a senior pup, Kirk has some medical needs and requires a little extra TLC, so he needs someone who will offer him patient nurturing in exchange for unconditional love and devotion. Kirk has a positive history with other dogs. We recommend he does not go into a home that has cats or small animals.

The adoption fee for puppies (<6 months) costs $350. Adult dogs cost $250. Senior dogs (7+ years) and special needs dogs are 50% off the adoption fee.


Seven-month-old Calcifer, a beautiful teenage girl, has the most gorgeous eyes and soft fur. She would like to find a calm and quiet home where she’s given the time she needs to adjust to a new environment. Once she feels safe and confident, her sweet and affectionate nature will come out. She looks forward to a home with lots of cat toys to play with and some sunny window sills where she can perch and watch the world outside. Calcifer will make an oh-so-sweet companion.

The adoption fee for kittens (<6 months) costs $150. Adult cats are $100. $25 off each for multiple cats/kittens. Senior cats (7+ years) and special needs cats are 50% off the adoption fee.

Meet your forever friend at Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation, 2890 Mitchell Drive, Walnut Creek. For online adoption information, click here or call or call (925) 256-1ARF.

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