Pets and Their People

Out of the dark

By her own admission, Gina Knepp didn’t know a pit bull from a Pomeranian. “But I knew how to motivate people. How to get energy behind the mission,” says Knepp, who took over as animal care services manager at the city’s Front Street shelter in 2011. Her mission was to turn around a failing facility with an abysmal 20 percent “live release rate”—the percentage of animals leaving the shelter alive. Read More
Former Shelter Leader Gina Kepp with her rescue lab Coal

My Little Buttercup

Visit the artisan jewelry store, Little Relics, in Midtown on Tuesdays and Thursdays and be prepared for an enthusiastic welcome from Buttercup the bulldog. “Sometimes she becomes an overzealous greeter,” says Buttercup’s owner and master jeweler Susan Rabinovitz. “She follows people around. She thinks everyone is here to see her.” Read More
rescue bulldog buttercup with her owner Susan

3 Shelters, 1 Mission

This is how the conversation typically goes: “My friend found a stray cat and took her to the SPCA on Bradshaw.” “You mean the county shelter?” “Isn’t that the pound on Front Street?” Confusing? Yes. But it doesn’t have to be. Let’s start with the basics. Read More
Pit bull mix looks through cage with sad eyes

Long Journey Home

Bodie bounds onto the well-worn leather sofa and makes himself comfortable, furry head on a blue chenille pillow. The 75-pound German Shepherd with soulful brown eyes and gigantic feet is a long distance from China, where his journey began. This handsome canine is one of the lucky ones. Found abandoned on the streets of Shanghai, he spent three years in a local shelter before making his way to the United States and his 4,000-square-foot home in Elk Grove with new owners Anna and Dave Kuhn and their other two rescue dogs. Read More

Creature Comfort

The small sign hanging from the front door says it all: “Spoiled cats and their household staff live here!” Spoiled cats indeed. Honey West, a tortie with a “tort-i-tude,” is most comfortable hiding under the bed when strangers call. Black Bart, a sleek panther-like feline, will make himself at home in anyone’s lap. Watson, a handsome short-hair tabby with golden brown highlights, is good about getting his daily diabetes shot but expects a treat for the effort. All three are seniors at 9, 10 and 11, respectively. Read More

Forbidden Food

Not long after my husband, Mark, and I moved into our Wilhaggin home, we decided to build a deck and pergola off the master bedroom. Mark is a man of many talents—he is a consultant for the state Legislature during the week, but on weekends he turns into a tool-toting maniac capable of building or renovating just about anything. When the gorgeous redwood structure was complete, it called out for a decorative vine that would wrap around each of the four corner posts and provide a canopy of shade during Sacramento’s hot summers. Without a second thought, we ordered online four Tempranillo grape vines. In addition to being fast growing and hearty, the plants would provide Mark and his son the opportunity to become home winemakers. Read More
Husky, puppy, husky puppy, Mushroom

A Man & His Dog

Will Rogers wrote, “No man can be condemned for owning a dog. As long as he has a dog, he has a friend.” For Jim Hastings, that friend is a 45-pound canine named McKinley. True to his breed—a Vizsla with sleek rusty-gold fur and a slender athletic frame—McKinley has abundant energy and a drive to move. “This is not a lapdog. This is a field dog,” says Hastings, 90, who walks with his canine cohort 4 to 5 miles every day along the American River Parkway near River Park. “Otherwise he’d be a nervous wreck. Anybody who has one should know that.” Read More

Feline Family

A “civil war” is how Leslie Finke describes the situation among residents last year at the Albert Einstein Center in Arden-Arcade. “It got downright vicious,” says Finke, the center’s executive director for 37 years. “I’ve been here a long time. I’ve never seen such disharmony in the building. It was a civil war here. People were so mean to each other.” Read More

Hen Heaven

In the pecking order, Anchovy is the chief chicken. She is an Ameraucana and lays pale blue eggs. “She will boss everyone around,” says Nicole Martin, who lives in Arden Park with husband Phil, and their daughters Phoebe and Lucie. “She will literally peck the others on the head.”Anchovy barely tolerates being picked up, but loves to be around people, especially Phil when he is working in the family’s spacious backyard garden. “She follows me around the whole time,” he says. Read More

Lost & Found

Early in 2017, an unaltered female terrier mix with silky red hair was picked up as a stray in Woodland by Yolo County Animal Services. When shelter staff evaluated her for adoption, she failed the behavior test. She was too frightened to walk on leash or to be handled. When they reached for her, she cowered at the back of her kennel. When they attempted to leash her, she struggled against the harness. Read More

Kitty’s Kitties

Leo, a spunky feline with soft swirls of auburn-red hair, is calling to his mom, Kitty O’Neal, from his outside sanctuary. “Are you ready to come in?” O’Neal queries her very vocal 12-year-old boy. Leo is perched on the top tier of his three-story cat condo in the backyard of O’Neal’s Curtis Park home, which she shares with husband, Kurt Spataro. Attached to the cage is a long tunnel made of netting that allows Leo to venture into the garden. Read More

Harry, the Lovable Mutt

High energy would be an understatement when it comes to describing Harry, a 12-pound terrier mix who was named for his likeness to the pre-bath scruffy mutt in the classic children’s book, “Harry the Dirty Dog.” Simon de Vere White and Alina Cervantes adopted the wiry black-and-silvery pooch last year from the Sacramento SPCA as a family dog for their daughters, Mari and Kyle. Read More

Funny Bunny

Dakota, a fluff ball of a rabbit, has made himself right at home with his new family. In fact, he has pretty much taken over their Carmichael residence. A large wire pen has a permanent place in the great room. Cardboard boxes of varying sizes line up to form a tunnel in one corner. Small, inexpensive rugs are strewn about for better traction under those bunny feet. Read More
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