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.
Founded in 2006, the Vincent family's 3-acre ranch makes pups feel right at home when their families can't be there to care for them. "There are no cages here," Andrea Vincent explains on her website. "There are no kennels." Unlike even the best boarding facilities, where dogs are isolated in private suites, the Vincents' maximum of four furry guests roam their house at will. An enclosed outdoor play area stretches 1.5 acres, providing plenty of room for canines to play fetch, investigate odors, or negotiate a peace agreement between themselves and their own tail.
Since 1995, VIP PetCare has been operating community veterinary clinics to make preventive care accessible and affordable for all pet owners. The clinics rotate through 250 markets and provide heartworm tests, flea treatments, dewormers, and other vital care on a regular basis to keep pets healthy. Furry friends stay easily identifiable after microchipping services, and vaccination packages protect from maladies that range from rabies to kennel cough. Each clinic is overseen by a state-licensed vet to ensure the safety of each animal. VIP PetCare also partners with pet retail stores and animal shelters in each of their markets, and has donated more than $400,000 in supplies and materials to animal shelters and rescue groups over the last three and a half years.
Pride & Groom / Aqua Doggie helps owners soap up dirty pups at a trio of self-serve stations. The shop lays out shampoos and conditioners, bathing mitts and Zoom Groom scrubbers, towels, goggles, and other grooming essentials in each private, climate-controlled room. Once owners free their canines from straitjackets of grime, staffers step in to clip and dremel-grind nails as well as express anal glands. Pride & Groom / Aqua Doggie also stocks grooming supplies such as brushes, combs, scissors, and eyelash curlers, and invites pooches to frolic on its grassy dog run. If requested, the shop can dispatch friendly staffers to provide in-home pet care.
Inside Planet Canine’s 1,400-square-foot converted warehouse and outside in its spacious, fenced-in yard, the happy sounds of frolicking dogs can be heard as animal-loving staffers supervise up to nine hours of daily outdoor playtime. Led by canine enthusiast Kate Marden, the staff watches over pups as they cavort on play structures and splash in shallow pools during the hot summer months. After playtime, dogs rush indoors to be fed Merrick wheat- and corn-free food before bedding down on blankets and bath rugs. Each canine lounges in his or her own area on overnight stays, for naptime, and during writing sessions for poetry composed entirely of panting and barking noises.