Peter the Perfect Pooch: One Couple’s Story

We at SAPA specialize in perfectly imperfect, one-of-a-kind dogs and cats. Our pets have oodles of personality and gobs of gratitude.   And we love ’em all: the snaggle-toothed, the three legged, the clumsy, the black and brown dogs and cats that so often die at shelters.  The vast majority of the dogs we save have very minor or no health problems and no behavioral problems – they are just products of their circumstances, abandoned, overbred, unwanted, and are blameless, but at immediate risk of death. We are devoted to the sick, the motley, injured, mangy, forgotten, brutalized, neglected and hopeless.   We love and save the “parvos”, “distempers”, the big pittie mixes, and the tiny chi blends. And we have the perfectly imperfect pet for you – just ask Jason and Kimberly. Jason and Kimberly decided to  responsibly  adopt  a rescue dog from SAPA- a dog that wasn’t what they pictured, but who far exceeded their expectations. Come by and find out what Jason and Kimberly found out: you can’t beat the gratitude of, or love for, a rescued dog (or cat). Visit one of our four SAPA locations at the bottom of our main webpage! We are open every day of the week. You can foster, adopt, or donate!

“My fiance and I had been talking about adopting a dog for months. We wanted one so bad, but had financial considerations like the adoption fees, vet fees, pet deposit, and just general living expenses. She would say, “Let’s go look at dogs!” and I would respond, “After we get married!” As many know, weddings aren’t cheap!

 Well, a few weeks ago we got married and decided that instead of going on a honeymoon, we would go look for our first dog. We went to the Paul Jolly Center for Pet Adoptions just to look. We were going to meet some eligible pups, and then make a decision the following week. We walked in and there was Peter.Peter pooch poses to his own drummer....
Peter was nothing like the kind of dog we had planned on adopting. We wanted a medium-sized, brown mutt. Growing up, my wife and I had both had these kinds of dogs and wanted to continue that tradition. But Peter won us over with one goofy, snaggle-toothed grin. He was a special kind of dog simultaneously looking like a puppy and a grumpy old man. His relaxed and mellow demeanor, his sweet brown eyes, and his stubby little nose just made our hearts melt.
His foster mom, Ashley, gave us her contact information and we decided that he would come spend the weekend with my wife and I. If that weekend went well, we would move forward with the adoption. Well, an hour after dropping him off at our apartment, we knew he had found his home. Peter is sweet and gentle, well-mannered and smart, and he is absolutely a member of our little family. He’s the perfect little sidekick and quite the cuddler.
My wife, Kimberly, and I are so grateful to Ashley, SAPA, and anyone else involved with saving this little guy from euthanasia and for bringing him into our lives. He improves our lives every day by being a loyal, loving pup and we can’t imagine life without him now. “
Jason & Kimberly (& Peter)

Healing Harry.

Harry’s Story – A Miracle Rescue


                Sometimes a dog will come to us that is very sick. Before SAPA these sick dogs (and cats) faced few option and were often quickly euthanized. Thanks to your generosity, donations, and willingness to foster or adopt, these dogs can now find healing, and live long healthy lives in their forever homes. Many people think shelter dogs are ‘damaged’ or will have lifelong issues, but we see over and over again the resiliency and healing of dogs and cats . As we heal their bodies, their behavior and capacity to bond and love opens up as well. For example, here’s the story of Harry. 

Few dogs look sicker and weaker than than Harry. But Harry was lucky, he was fostered by the Cunninghams – a “regular” family that includes two young sons that had no special experience in dog training. What the Cunninghams did have was the desire to make a difference, a little courage, and a lot of love. They stepped up and saved Harry by offering to foster him. And what they gave Harry is exactly what he needed; consistency, care, trust, boundaries, and loving attention. This story is proof how veterinary care, a little effort, and a lot of love can heal a dog and expand the world of children. Meet one of our miracles, Harry Cunningham, as told by Kelly Cunningham: 4 12 14 harry at sapa getting bath

                “Harry had sarcoptic mange, a respiratory infection, a yeast infection on his skin, was very malnourished and

Harry's first days at the Cunninghams was spent sleeping.

Harry’s first days at the Cunninghams was spent sleeping.

emaciated, and had other skin infections. He was a VERY sick boy. The veterinarian gave us sooooo much medication – we felt kind of like we might be taking home a 100 year old man!  When I brought the little guy home, all he would do was urinate on himself in his kennel and wouldn’t even look at us. He slept for days. It took him over two weeks to make any sound at all.

I was worried and felt kind of bad for Harry since I have two small active boys. I thought they would be too much for him while he was recovering. But, Harry took right to the boys! They are totally HIS kids. And it brought out the best in my boys, they were able to take part in helping to feed Harry, and care for him after his mange was no longer contagious, and they were patient and gentle. They were able to experience firsthand the powerful effects of care and love in their own young lives. Harry, in fact, likes the boys way better than he likes us! 4 12 14 harry being nursed by boys 1

It was weeks before Harry made a sound. We wondered if he would ever bark. We are those kind of dog parents who take gobs of pictures, and we are thrilled that when a few weeks after we brought Harry home, our son was playing a game with Harry and Harry gave his first bark ever – just one excited happy bark! We got it on video, and even my son yelled excitedly “He barked!!”.  It was a moment of triumph for all of us to 4 12 harry getting better 2celebrate!


Harry learning to text.

Harry learning to text

The Cunninghams decided to adopt Harry. This is why SAPA is so valuable. And so are you! Your donations, your time spent volunteering, your willingness to adopt and foster, and sharing our website and Facebook page all help us get word out to save these precious animals. We can’t do this without you! And as you can see from this miracle story, 4 12 14 hairry blue bonnetslives CAN be saved. We work hard every day to show up and help save, and we want to thank each of you – and today a special shout out to the Cunningham family – for showing up every day with us, for the critters.  It takes us all working together to accomplish it. Thank you! Love, SAPA!

Saving Norma Rae: SAPA provided medical care, the Moulinie Foster Family provided love and care.

  1. How SAPA’s Medical Care Can Save Lives – Norma Rae’s Story


Before SAPA began, nearly all animals with sickness or injury were euthanized. Even illnesses that are easily treatable, such as mange, meant a death sentence for a dog or cat. Often, short term medical care can mean an animal can live a long, happy life after healing. Many SAPA dogs and cats come in injured or sick, which is why we have veterinary staff to help us care for these animals. Medical care is one of SAPA’s biggest expenses. We have seen many dogs and cats be healed, live and have full, happy lives due to our medical services here at SAPA. Norma Rae is one of our dogs who was saved due to the care of our SAPA medical staff and a loving foster home…

” It was early January of this year, while scrolling down on Facebook, that we saw Norma’s picture and brief story. She had been attacked by another dog and was hurt pretty badly. We saw that the deadline for her to be put down was a few hours away so we quickly emailed SAPA to see how we could help.”

norma rae smaller w text“The next day, we picked her up from the shelter. Norma was terrified. She would not let anyone at the shelter get close to her. It appeared she had never been seen by a veterinarian before being rescued by SAPA. She also was covered had fleas, which the SAPA medical staff treated. The staff had already treated her wounds and gave us pain medication and other prescription to help heal her and  to keep Norma Rae comfortable. We ended up having to wrap a blanket around her and took her home. When we got home, we noticed how terrible her wounds were. She had been bitten all over her face, neck, and back. It was difficult for her to eat, drink, and walk. Because of this, the SAPA medical staff gave her appetite inducers to help her eat and drink. For an entire week she just laid on the same spot.”

“It took an entire week for Norma to realize that we weren’t going to hurt her, then she finally approached us. Every day, I sat next to her on the floor to spend time with her. I thought that maybe this way she would know that I wasn’t there to hurt her. It was day 7 w    hen she finally got up, slowly walked towards me, and sat on my lap. She was terrified. All I could think of was to hold her really tight. So, I did. The shaking stopped. After that, she would not leave our side. She even waited by the door for us to get home from work every day and she took advantage of every opportunity she got to show her love and norma rae healing 3appreciation to us by giving us kisses and putting a smile on our face.”

“Two weeks after we picked Norma Rae up from SAPA, we took her back to the clinic for a check-up and also in for X-rays of her spinal cord were taken to see if there had been any damage done to it since she seemed to be having a difficult time walking and standing.  The X-rays were negative, no spinal cord damage was done; however we were advised of some possible neurological issues due to trauma in the skull area. This issue slowly went away and three weeks later she was able to run. ”

“Once the SAPA medical staff got her healed up, they vaccinated her at a Foster Fest event and she was, spayed and micro-chipped shortly afterwards.”norma rae with th pak

“Four months later, Norma finally found a home. Although she had a hard time approaching her new family, today, they report that she seems to be settling in rather well in her new home, and luckily, the new owner promised to keep us updated in the future. I think this was one of the most rewarding things we have ever done. Seeing Norma have to go was difficult, bnorma rae with foster dadyut knowing that she will continuously get the love she deserves makes us the happiest people in the world.”

“To San Antonio Pets Alive!, thank you for the great work all of you do. Thank you all for giving us the opportunity to help a little. – There are no words to describe the joy that she brought to our home for those short four months.”

The Moulinie Family

From all of us at SAPA and all of San Antonio – we give our thanks to YOU. You did an amazing job and created a space in your life to nurture and restore a dog to both physical and emotional health. THANK YOU.norma rae getting adopted

Your donations help us here at SAPA fund the medical staff. We cannot save all the lives we are able to save without the veterinarians, the vet technicians, and the medicine and procedures we are able to give because of your generosity. From Norma Rae, to many, many other cats and dogs, your donations and sharing our website and Facebook pages help us keep the dream alive. The dream of giving every dog and cat a chance for a forever home!


Saving Owen: A Family’s Story

Our medical team saves the lives of thousands of pets a year, restoring them to health, and placing them in loving homes. Here is one family’s story.

Saving Owen

By Renee Myers and Family

We adopted Owen in August of 2013. He is now a little over a year old. I am frequently on your SAPA page, along with many other pages to share all these sweet babies who need homes. I often share and send out pics of specific animals to people who I think the animal would be a good fit. I owen and sister textalso share on my wall because I want all these sweet babies to have homes.

getting ointment

One afternoon, I happened to be scrolling through the pics and found Owen (and his sibling, Luke). For whatever reason I just fell in love. I told my husband to look at their pic. Done. He emailed SAPA. Come to find out, he only 40 minutes left before EBI was to take them! David and our children immediately left (I had to stay at work) and drove out to SAPA. By the time they arrived, he only had 10 minutes left. We adopted him.

When we adopted Owen, he was in bad shape. He’s a German Shepherd/Doberman (and probably other mixes) mix and at 6 months old, he was only 26 pounds. He was very owen getting better w textmalnourished and also has mange. BAD. He literally had NO hair on his stomach, lots of missing hair on his head, back…just everywhere. And he was very unhealthy and miserable. We spent two weeks under quarantine, giving him daily baths, rubbing him down with coconut oil, meds, and love. The kids helped us with his healing and while we were doing that, we were training. He was very shy and very scared of humans. Really, just very scared of the human world in general. A TV would scare him when turned on, the ceiling fan, a blow dryer…it was a whole new world for him. We began training him immediately and teaching him everything we learned in dog training class.  We noticed quickly that Owen was VERY intelligent.

After six weeks, he was all healed and could meet Riley. Riley is our 8 year old Lab/Beagle. They immediately hit it off and are the best of friends. They sleep together, they play together…she is a VERY gentle dog and seems to calm his fears. He is active and playful which keeps her youthful. We’ve had to work with him on learning new people. He still gets scared, but he is becoming less so. The more he sees familiar faces, the less worried he is…the ONLY time we have to be careful is when our children are asleep. He is EXTREMELY protective of them while they are sleeping. Once they are awake, he’s absolutely fine. We began reading about Doberman personality and realized just how much of that breed’s characteristics he got. So, now our training is different. And we’ve seen an amazing side of him! He is quite the goofball!! He LOVES to snuggle. He wants to be with one of us at all times. He adores our children (aka his babies) and is so loving with them and even their friends. He kind of considers them all his puppies I think. He’s become an amazing natural guard dog and knows when it’s also fine to have a stranger in the house. He is also a talker. He talks when he’s hungry, when he wants out, when he wants you to play. He is a VERY communicative dog. He has turned into this amazing and loyal dog. We would have never realized when we adopted him as a scared, unhealthy puppy that he would have become this beautiful and loving dog. He’s just amazing.owen

owenwatching tvPhysically, he stayed on the small side and that may have been due to him being so undernourished and sick as a puppy. He’s on the small side of a female German Shepherd. BUT, from when we adopted him to now…shocking. He is gorgeous! His coat came back full force and it is so shiny black that it’s stunning in the sun. It’s also so dark, you literally cannot see him if he is curled up on our couch at night. His muscles and strength are amazing. He’s just a beautiful dog.

Thank you for allowing us to adopt him. We’ve watched him grow and become confident, loving, happy, goofy, loyal, protective, and just all around wonderful. And know I am ALWAYS sharing your page and asking others to do the same so we can all work to give owen now textthese dogs and cats loving homes. We have NO regrets with him. And we are so grateful we listened to our hearts that day and went to get him.

The Myers

(David, Reneé, Mila & Corbin…and Owen Grumps & Riley Bojangles)

Help Us Create Princess’ Bucket List

Fulfilling Princess’ Bucket List

The overarching goal of San Antonio Pets Alive! (SAPA!) is to save every pet that is save-able. We have seen time and again how many hundreds of dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens simply need one time or short time medical care, or time to grow a little older,  in order to then live a long and healthy life. On occasion, we save a dog from euthanasia that is ill and through veterinary care we find are untreatable, but still full of life. Princess is one of those dogs.

Princess’ owner dropped her off to be euthanized, but it was clear to us that Princess was still capable of experiencing joy, love, doggie friends, walk4 16 14 princess collage blogs….and her two favorite things – food and snuggles. We knew she had a tumor when a foster offered to take her. We didn’t know at the time that the tumor was inoperable and that Princess’ condition was terminal. Princess is so kind and loving and it broke our hearts to learn her condition was inoperable. We always keep in mind, however, that all animals (and people) deserve a ‘good death’. In other words, the process of letting go of life on earth, of dying,  is a deeply important time in all lives.  We decided we would, as in all our hospice cases, steward Princess through the end of her life to the best of our ability. And we would be there for her, present, when it is decided that euthanasia is her best option. So, as SAPA! Stewards, we want to create a bucket list for Princess based on her personality and fulfill as many items on her list that we can. We will provide her with ongoing medical attention and carefully monitor her. We would like your help in suggestions and ideas for her list. We will post pictures of her fulfilling the items on her bucket list and keep you updated.

This is what we know of this beautiful soul: she is extremely loving, craves time with humans and cuddles. She enjoys other dogs. We think she may have been an outside dog, and slept deeply and comfortably on a cozy pallet at her foster home. She loves food!  So far we have this on her bucket list:

  1. A gooshy, soft warm bed inside for sleeping the rest of her days.
  2. Quality time with her new foster doggie friends (ice cream social?)
  3. Some delicious food (ideas welcome!).

Please add to what you think we should add to Princess’ Bucket List Below or on our Facebook page. The vast majority of our medical cases are pets that can be treated and homed. Please donate what you can to our medical fund so we can save as many as we have the resources for. or through paypal where you can write in the comments “For medical care”.

Here’s to Princess!!

If is so easily treated, why was mange so often a death sentence?

4 12 14 hairry blue bonnets

Mange is one of those misunderstood illnesses that a lot of dogs and some cats suffer from primarily when they are 1. puppies, or 2. in poor health. Puppies have not very well developed immune systems, so they are more susceptible to all diseases, this is why vaccinations, proper nutri4 12 14 harry at sapa getting bathtion and care are so important.

SAPA is committed to saving ALL pets that have treatable diseases.  Mange is actually not that hard to treat. The difficult part is it takes time. Public shelters don’t have time because new pets are coming in every day.  We need fosters who, like SAPA aren’t afraid of 4 12 14 harry sick 1mange!


So, there are two kinds of mange:

Sarcoptic: this is caused by a mite and is contagious to humans. A few weeks of quarantine in a bathroom or kennel means these dogs are easily cared for while their mange is treated. Most folks foster “sarcops” puppies never have any problems. Hand washing, washing the dog’s bedding daily, and washing the dog helps. Keeping children away from sarcops puppies is a good idea. Sarcops is also very itchy to dogs and they are usually pretty miserable until treatment begins.

Demodex: Demodex mange is not contagious to humans or other animals. It can take longer to clear up, but it is very rewarding to see a dog recover from demodex and blossom into a healthy dog. These dogs usually suffer from hairloss and can be stinky. This mange is usually found in puppies and very malnourished, poorly cared for dogs.  Regular baths with chlorhexidine (can be purchased online) helps a lot, as do other shampoos you can easily purchase.4 12 14 hairry with boys

Please consider fostering or adopting a “mange dog”.  It is a great way to teach your kids about compassion for vunerable beings. You will be saving a life, you will be able to watch a dog grow from a sickly dog to a healthy dog.  If you foster, SAPA provides the regular medications. To foster (mange or non-mange!) fill out an application on our website at under ‘foster’. After you submit your application email both of these addresses and tell them you have completed your application: &



We have great news about Trixie!

She has been adopted by the Mayes family and has undergone surgery. Trixie was featured on KSAT at the end of February and we received donations that funded her surgery. We are now focused on raising funds for her physical therapy.

4 3 14 trixie gets a ride in wagon smaller4 3 14 trixie collage

You can see how darling she is with her new family and her puppy siblings.  Trixie will need physical therapy which will cost approximately $1500.  It is our deepest hope that with physical therapy the nerve-related damage she sustained will recover.  Please help Trixie in her next phase of healing. Here is the link for her fundraiser. If you prefer paypal you can donate through our website and put “Trixie’s physical therapy’ in the box where you can write comments. Thank you from Trixie and your SAPA family!

or through our website if you prefer paypal


Workout Buddy Wanted!

Gorgeous Workout Buddies at our Marbach Facility!

We have some active, highly intelligent bigger dogs that need homes with loving and active humans. Check out these stunning young pooches looking for homes. These kiddos are at our Marbach location, 9107 Marbach, Suite 109.  This location is in a strip mall, pull in by Domino’s Pizza and drive straight back and, we are in the breezeway next to Hairport Hair Salon. To see our other locations, dogs, donate, volunteer visit our website!    Come check out these dogs and more!3 19 14 MARBACH DOGS COLLAGE

Honoring Paul Jolly

Honoring Paul Jolly

It is paul jollyimportant in our lives, to seek and gain motivation and inspiration from the work of others.  Paul Jolly is one of those people. Mr. Jolly didn’t live in San Antonio, but as the director of the Petco Foundation for many years, his work had, and continues to have, a lasting impact on our efforts to save pets from needless death.

We lost Paul Jolly on March 8, 2014. He died surrounded by family and friends, but his compassion and life-saving efforts will continue here in San Antonio and beyond. Just one branch of Mr. Jolly’s legacy, as many of you know, is the Paul Jolly Center for Pet Adoptions which was named in honor of Mr. Jolly.  The center opened this past October and has already saved hundreds of lives.

Paul dedicated his life to saving pets and leading the Petco Foundation. He was well regarded nationally as a man who devoted his career to saving our most vulnerable pets. San Antonio Pets Alive! takes seriously the legacy of Mr. Jolly, and every life we save carries the impact of the compassion and commitment he showed in life.paul jolly plaque

Mr. Jolly watched the groundbreaking of the Paul Jolly Center for Pet Adoptions remotely and wrote a beautiful piece that was read at the groundbreaking. We share a part of it below in honor of Mr. Jolly and as continued inspiration for those of you who share his passion for saving pets;

I envisioned potential pet parents walking into the center hoping to make that connection with a homeless pet.  I imagined homeless animals – scared, hurting, and unsure – having a state of the art sanctuary while they await their second chance at a better life. I saw them both coming together with hope and promise.  This is what will make San Antonio special.  This is what will make the city magical.  And I remembered the animal welfare heroes in my life who served as inspirations to me. I am forever grateful to them for imparting to me their passion and their commitment to making a difference for animals.  This building may have my name on it, but it is really named for all of them that guided my journey in humane work.
I thought about the enormous progress that the city of San Antonio has made to become a “No-Kill” community.  It is my hope that this adoption center will be a beacon and symbol for the local animal leaders and others that are championing this cause.  I hope they will be reminded of the ultimate goal when they repeat my name and know that if I could I would be fighting the good fight with them also.  Each animal adopted will be a visible reminder of the importance of aspiring to greater things, the importance of saving lives, the difference that can be made.
That is why I agreed to the naming of this adoption center, and that’s why I want you to join me in celebrating the dawning of a new day for all of us, animals and people, in San Antonio. Thank you for this honor.  May this edifice always stand as a symbol that this community and nation are places where we all can make a difference for animals.


Doggie Body Language: 5 Signs of Distress/Stress in Dogs

dog lickingDoggie Body Language: 5 Signs of Distress/Stress in Dogs

Let’s face it, as much as we love our pooches, we aren’t born with an innate ability to read their body language. Sure some things are obvious – the full body wiggle, the tail wag – but there are other signs that you may not necessarily see, or read, properly unless you learn some of the less obvious, less known body language signs.  Its important to know basic dog body language in order to reduce behavioral problems, stress also increases likelihood of infection and skin problems as well as gastrointestinal problems. Further, knowing your dog’s body language is part of building a closer bond between you and dogdom.

So what are some of the subtle signs dogs exhibit when they are feeling stressed or uncertain?

One sign is the dog licks its lips or nose, yawns, scratches or even sneezes (though sneezing can also be a sort of playful challenge, or…well a sneeze).  This is a way a dog can displace their anxiety, sorta like you fidgeting or tapping your foot.

A second sign is the wet dog shake, a whole body shake when it isn’t appropriate (the dog is dry). Its kind of like a re-set button: a dog’s attempt to get back to normal. Kinda like you touching a stove – you shake it off. dog shake






A third sign is the “whale eye” .  This can be a sign of uncertainty. Often the whites of the eye can be seen, and the dog’s face becomes still and rather unmoving. It’s often a response to something very specific – its one of the first signs a dog will show. Sometimes the whites of a dog’s eye will get pink or red when stressed, too. Also, dogs sometimes do this when they are guarding their toys or fodog with moon eyesod. It can be a warning. moon eyes 1







Fourth sign is straight up found in the face – a furrowed brown, hypervigilance, a tightened face, looking around in short quick glances: all signs a dog may be anxious or stressed.sad dog

Finally there are other signs of stress that are more physiological than behavioral: dilated ppils, shedding, panting a sort of fight or flight dance the dog’s neurological system is doing.

STRANGER DANGER! In general, dogs don’t like kisses and hugs from strangers any more than you do! Once you learn to recognize the signs, you can learn strategies for reducing your dog’s anxiety or stress. It doesn’t always mean coddling or picking the pooch up – as tempting as that is.  If you are at the doggie doctor, well, yah, your dog will be stressed.  This is a good time to pair the experience with a treat, or petting.   Over emphatic soothing can actually make your dog more anxious.

But in other situations where your dog is exhibiting stress signs, you may simply want to remove your dog like a house party. AN OVERSTIMULATED DOG IS MORE LIKELY TO BEHAVE AGGRESSIVELY THAN THE SAME DOG IN ANOTHER CONTEXT. This might be where your crate training comes in handy – let your pooch retreat to his/her safe space in his/her crate.  Space is one of those things that is not often considered with dogs. We often want to pick them up like a child, but then we unintentionally crowd the dog, creating more anxiety and stress.  Teach children to protect a dog’s personal space. You wouldn’t expect a kid you didn’t know to rush up and pet your forehead, neither does your dog.  Here is a very interesting blog about dog communication.       A lot of this article info came from Dog Fance, March 2014, gooddog.orgdoggie language

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