We don’t always jump for joy when someone wants to adopt a bunny two days before Easter; often, these are “impulse” adoptions from people who don’t know a ton about the cute, yet fragile animal’s needs, but get caught up in the holiday hype and bombardment of cuddly bunny images.
But when Riley's Place called this week about Melody, a Lop-eared bunny, we hopped!
Riley’s Place is a relatively new nonprofit in Woodside that offers animal experiences on their storybook setting for children experiencing chronic or life-threatening medical issues or other challenging family situations.
Some issues are too big for children. Cancer, abuse, homelessness.
This is where Riley’s Place comes in.
Children too familiar with white lab coats, blood draws or the inside of an MRI machine and others who worry where they are going to eat or sleep can visit Riley’s Place and kick up dust in a barn, groom a miniature horse or go nose to nose with a Nigerian dwarf goat.
They can spend time in a secret garden or climb a tree fort with a million dollar view. And, they can sit down, relax and have a bunny hop in their lap.
All the programs are free, 100 percent funded by donations. And, for kids too ill to visit, Riley’s Place comes to them.
We feel especially touched that we’ve been able to match several of our homeless pets with Riley’s Place: two guinea pigs, three rabbits and two miniature horses surrendered to us by owners who became overwhelmed by their growing herd.
Our staff fully understands their program and carefully selects the animals who will be comfortable being around kids.
And since our organizations share a few common volunteers, we are quite familiar with each other’s behind-the-scenes workings. For example, we know that the animals actually spend a small part of their time with visitors (this is good, since constant visits would be overwhelming) and when they aren’t “at work,” they have time to chill and they have volunteers responsible for their grooming, housing, diets, and socialization needs.
All of our animal placements are wonderful and we’re touched each and every day knowing the kinds of permanent homes we’ve found for our shelter animals. We had 25 adoptions last Sunday alone and each one was very cool!
And letters and email messages from adopters never get old.
One arrived this week, with the cat photo attached to my column. “…Two years ago, we came to your facility to adopt a companion for our dog. We decided to take a risk and rescue an adorable 4-year-old cat that had been left at your doorstep, disheveled and pregnant. Your medical team took great care in treating the pregnancy and caring for her….We’ve since moved to Tiburon and as you can see in the photo, Shasta has made it! Thank you for your wonderful service to the community and for helping us rescue such a beautiful animal…..Please accept our contribution as a small token of our gratitude to help other animals find a great home.”
Still, there is something unique about our matches with Riley’s Place.
We give wonderful animals who were stray, neglected, dumped or abused the happy ending they deserve. And in turn, these second chance animals have an extraordinary impact on kids who deserve to experience joy and have fun, carefree moments.
As I’ve said and written many times, the good work we do and the good people we encounter far outweigh the sad stuff we see. Each week, it’s a new story, a new animal, a new adopter, or a special volunteer or partner.