When a haggard, helpless stray pup wandered into the backyard of Mrs. Carter H. Downing house in 1940, he had no idea he was about to trigger the creation of one of San Francisco's most respected animal hospitals and shelters. After searching fruitlessly for a safe shelter for the dog, the determined Carter Downing took the frightened animal home with her, along with all of the other pets caged up in the local pound. After setting up her own impromptu pet adoption agency, Downing proved to be successful at connecting stray and homeless pets with loving families. More than 65 years later, Pets Unlimited carries on Downing's vision, maintaining a network of foster care, community education programs, and a 24-hour veterinary center. The work of the dedicated staff keeps dogs and cats off the streets and puts them right where they belong⎯in the loving arms of humans and Sesame Street characters.
To support their work, a portion of the proceeds from their top-notch veterinary center goes to support Pets Unlimited's charitable vet care, shelter programs, and adoption services. Doting pet parents can bring in their pets for routine checkups, dental cleanings, and boarding, all the while supporting the noble causes of connecting abandoned cats and dogs with nurturing homes.
There are many businesses that cater to pets, but Redwood Animal Hospital strives to be the only one animals need. Veterinarians Joelle Abrams and Timberly Johnson and their doting staff members—including Isaac the dog, who greets clients up front, and Alex the cat, who roams the clinic freely and helps distract patients during procedures—perform the preventative, surgical, and dental services that owners expect from an animal hospital, then they go a few steps further. The onsite boarding facility lends a private space to dogs and cats when their owners are away, and groomer Cheri shampoos, brushes, and trims fur to bestow clients with fresher-smelling pets. For owners with limited mobility or dogs who don't want to run into their ex-wives, the medical specialists even make house calls.
Digital x-rays, blood transfusions, and stem-cell therapy sound like treatments ordered by doctors on medical dramas. The treatments, however, are all available for critters at Capitola Veterinary Hospital. At the vet’s modern facility, which is outfitted to provide medical, dental, dermatological, and surgical services, veterinary doctors River May and Katie Volat apply their years of training and affection for pets. At the hands of a friendly staff, critters are given a custom health-care plan that can include microchipping, nutritional counseling, and tests to see how many orphans the pet has saved from wells. The onsite pharmacy provides an array of veterinary drugs, and the team always keeps owners in the loop and provides them with current information so that they can decide on the best treatment for furry friends.
Dr. May and Dr. Volat also go above and beyond to keep animals healthy by regularly conversing with top veterinarians across the nation to ensure the best treatment. The hospital is also certified by the Monterey Bay Green Business Program, in part because of digital record keeping, low-radiation digital x-rays, and biodegradable soaps.
Horses graze on the hillsides of the 200-acre valley at Shamrock Ranch, and tail-wagging guests enjoy the coastal breeze during long leash walks. Led by trainer Lisa Nava Rhodes, the Shamrock Ranch team cares for pets while practicing training methods that encourage healthy relationships with owners. The team also hosts overnight stays in their climate-controlled kennels or kitty condos, feeding pets with owner-provided food or Shamrock Ranch's own hypoallergenic treats. Top Performance oatmeal shampoo revives coats during grooming services, and dogs can enjoy brush outs and nail trimmings after getting bathed and listening to gossip about neighborhood squirrels.
Ten thousand square feet is plenty of space for dogs to run, play, and relax. At Bark Park, dogs play both indoors and outdoors, romping onto play structures, catching balls between their teeth, and discussing alternate endings for Homeward Bound as they sunbathe on the grass. The staff supervises its canine charges 24 hours a day, even during overnight stays, and owners can take advantage of other services such as grooming and training sessions.
Unable to find a nearby shop to supply their Frankie and Cheeko—a chihuahua and a chihuahua-terrier mix, respectively—with accessories, dog owners Kattya and Patrick took matters into their own hands—they opened their own pet boutique in Union Square. At Cheeko B Pet Boutique, they shelve food and treats alongside gear such as collars, leashes, and grooming supplies, outfitting dog and cat caretakers with tools that rarely sacrifice style for function. For example, designer dog outerwear from brands such as Ruff Ruff Couture and Urban Hund shield pooches from the elements and the judgmental stares of style-savvy squirrels. DailyCandy praised the store in 2008 for its sophisticated tastes in four-legged fashion, deeming it a "Trendynob pet hub" where you can "class up your canine."