|In March of 1993, the Montclarion newspaper in Oakland ran a feature article on an 8-year old cat who had been hit by a car. Though he survived, his front paw never healed properly and his rescuer named him Hopalong. The photo caught the eye of Helen Hill, a dedicated volunteer at the Oakland Animal Shelter. She gave this spunky black and white kitty with its three good legs a second chance and adopted him into her home.
Inspired, Helen Hill started Hopalong Animal Rescue. She gradually built a strong group of volunteers and in 1996 Hopalong Animal Rescue became a non-profit organization with an all-volunteer Board of Directors. The volunteer and foster care program was formalized and Hopalong Animal Rescue began to partner with the Oakland Animal Shelter by placing its own volunteers at the shelter to facilitate adoptions, help with animal care and evaluation, and run weekly mobile adoptions in the community.
Helen and Jim Hill
Hopalong became a strong lobbyist that no animal should leave the organization without being altered, eventually convincing the cities of Oakland and in Berkeley to pass spay/neuter ordinances to reduce pet-overpopulation. Costs to facilitate adoptions went up considerably, but it was and still is, a necessity. Without effective spay/neuter programs for the public, there would be no way to stem the tide of pet overpopulation.
In 2005 alone, Hopalong saved over 1,200 animals and became an active partner in the Last Litter Project in Oakland, a collaborative to provide free spay/neuter to those who can’t otherwise afford it. Hopalong also provided education to approximately 400 children and youth on the humane treatment and care of animals.
Hopalong Animal Rescue has grown from a one woman effort to a paid staff of six. Together with a large number of dedicated volunteers and donors, we are working toward our dream that no adoptable animal is euthanized in our community.
Second Chance Rescue was also founded in 1993, but the “unofficial” SCR began a year earlier. Second Chance Rescue’s two founders, Deb Kraus and Kerry Morf were close friends who shared a love of dogs. Kerry had rescued one puppy at a time from a shelter in Lake County that had a high euthanasia rate and no rescue organizations to assist them. The first time Kerry took a short vacation and asked Deb, who lived in Marin, to baby-sit her current rescue ‘project’ — a gorgeous golden retriever mix puppy named Ollie — Deb was able to quickly find a permanent home for him. They soon realized that there were many other loving families in Marin who preferred to adopt, and yet just a couple of hours away was an almost limitless supply of dogs slated for euthanasia that desperately needed homes. One pup led to many more, and eventually rescue trips to shelters required a rented cargo van.
By 1994, Deb and Kerry’s home-based, part-time rescue efforts had evolved into a full-time, successful collaboration where dogs were rescued from Lake County (plus other shelters with high euthanasia rates), given veterinary care and spayed or neutered, and then adopted out to qualified homes. Thanks to the high caliber of dogs selected for rescue, the commitment and hard work of many devoted volunteers and foster homes, plus community support from local veterinarians, pet supply stores and others, Second Chance Rescue was saving up to 500 dogs a year by the late 1990’s. By 2003–their 10th anniversary– SCR had provided a second chance at life to over 5,000 dogs and puppies.
In July of 1999, Hopalong Animal Rescue merged with Paws for Life, a foundation established to honor a former East Bay resident who wished to make a lasting contribution to save animals in need. Thanks to the trustees, Hopalong was able to hire its first Executive Director in May of 2000.
In 2006, Hopalong Animal Rescue and Second Chance Rescue formally merged after many years of working together, expanding our rescue family. Having partnered many times over the years, including in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and in response to an arson fire of a shelter in Baja, Mexico, the merger provided much needed infrastructure to both organizations and allowed both to save many more deserving animals. We share the same philosophy, mission and love of animals. We now offer rescue, placement, prevention and outreach programs to the community throughout the Bay Area, as well as Sonoma and Napa counties. Hopalong & Second Chance Animal Rescue has grown from two small individual efforts into a strong, highly effective animal welfare organization.