Read about our own Dr. Phil and our latest "success" stories.
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Welcome to our Winter newsletter. We are happy to report that since July 2015 we have helped save over forty pets that might have been euthanized due to their guardians being unable to afford critical and often emergency veterinary care.  

By the end of this year (June 30, 2016) we expect to help over eighty pets.
Please read about two of our recent cases in this newsletter.

All of the funds that we use to help save pets come from individual donations.
Donations of any size are gratefully accepted and are fully tax deductible.

For more information about us and our mission
or to donate please visit our website:


    Angela has had dogs for most of her life but was “between dogs” in October 2015 when her cousin presented her with an eight-week old toy fox terrier puppy, whom she named Lily. In December, to accommodate her Christmas tree, Angela moved her sofa up against a window. Suddenly Lily had a new spot to sit and view the world. On December 10, Lily, from her spot on the sofa, saw Angela talking with a neighbor on the front sidewalk and, being a curious puppy, decided to join them, but soon found herself airborne fifteen feet above the sidewalk. The landing was very rough. Poor Lily was crying and trying to get up but only two of her legs would support her. 

    Angela rushed Lily to her local veterinarian who referred her to the SPCA veterinary hospital who in turn referred her to San Francisco Veterinary Specialists. An orthopedic surgeon repaired Lily’s fractured femur with a steel plate and placed a splint on her fractured front paw. The next day Lily, with tail wagging, was ready to go home. In subsequent weeks, Lily had several rechecks to change the splint and to X-ray the legs to assure that the bones were healing properly. The charges were considerably more than Angela could afford. Fortunately, five veterinarians at SFVS combined their grants from SF Aid for Animals, which lowered Lily’s medical bill to a much more reasonable level. 

    Lily has recovered well and is back to being the happy, active puppy she was before the accident and Angela is keeping her away from open windows.

    Angela has great praise for the staff at SF Veterinary Specialists (including the car parking valets) and for SF Aid for Animals, without whom Lily’s surgery and medical care would not have been possible.


I’m Lola, five pounds of loveliness and very pampered by Kevin and Juan. I have a very comfy bed, get superior food, and regular bubble baths. Life is good. Last year, Kevin brought me a ‘big brother’ named Sushi, a thirteen-pound hunk. I got him trained to my liking pretty quickly but occasionally he did “act out”. The day after Christmas he was particularly feisty and, after some wrestling, I ended up in the Emergency Room at San Francisco Veterinary Specialists (SFVS). It turned out that my left rear paw was so badly damaged that it was necessary to amputate a toe. I am now completely recovered and will someday forgive Sushi!. Kevin became very concerned when he realized that my medical bills exceeded his ability to pay. Fortunately, two veterinarians at SFVS used grants from SF Aid for Animals to lower my bill to a level that Kevin could afford. Thank you SFVS and SF Aid For Animals for the wonderful care!

Meet SFAfA’s Dr. Phil Durfee

    With over 50 years’ experience, Dr. Phil Durfee knows very well the joy and heartache of being a veterinarian.  The need for care in under served communities motivates Phil to volunteer much of his time and his expertise to Vet. Street Outreach Services (Vet SOS), and to PAWS in San Francisco. We think Phil is a true San Francisco hero. 

    With a heart that big, it’s no wonder Phil joined SFAfA. Since his quasi-retirement in 2006, Phil has redirected some of his energy from the hospital room to the boardroom, offering SFAfA invaluable guidance and support. Phil took a moment recently to talk about his career and offer a few words of wisdom about caring for our furry loved ones. 

Why did you become a vet?

When I first became a vet decades ago it was because I liked animals and it appeared to be an interesting way of life.  I was right - for 50 years there was a challenging case every week and I could never be totally prepared for what was about to come through the door. It is a lively profession, never repetitive, and very rewarding. And, of course, I like the success stories and being able to work with animals.

What is the most exciting change you’ve seen in veterinary medicine?

The changes in automation, lab testing, and vaccines have been amazing. When I got out of school there were very few laboratory tests available for veterinarians and the vaccines were primitive. Those tests we had were done in our own offices. It was very limited. Most of us had very low power X-ray machines that couldn’t scan through a German Shepherd. These days we have almost all the tests and procedures, and equipment that are available to physicians.  It’s much more efficient. One of the most memorable moments in my career was in 1980 when Parvovirus (a highly contagious and deadly canine disease) broke out in California, there was no immunization against it and dogs of all ages were dying. There were so many sick dogs that IV fluids were unavailable anywhere in California and so we were making our own. It was the biggest disaster I’d seen and very heartbreaking. Thankfully, advancements in vaccines have helped prevent that from happening again. 

Who was your most memorable patient?

There have been lots of them so it’s too hard to say.  In the past fifty years I’ve been very lucky to have had a great variety of ‘careers’: Army vet, private practice, both large and small animals, veterinary research and teaching, and now volunteering. Of all the animals I’ve dealt with I suspect that Chewbaca (Chewy), a 1600 pound Bactrian camel, was the most unique. He danced, he pranced, he loved being in parades, he loved having his tummy and very large forehead rubbed and never fussed at his worm medicine or his vaccinations. 

What part of your work do you enjoy the most?

Of course, working with the animals but I also like to help their people. I like the community. A lot of the volunteer work that I do is to help pet owners in the homeless community care for their companion animals and it’s very gratifying. It’s a good feeling to be able to help because I know how much they care for their companions. 

What are some of the differences you see today with our relationships with our pets?

It really depends on where you are but, for the most part, pets have become a larger part of the family and our human-animal bond is undeniably strengthened by our increased awareness and compassion. 

Why do you volunteer?

It keeps me going while I’m still vertical! Really, it’s interesting and I meet a lot of nice people. The volunteers themselves are a community and I really enjoy that. In addition, I think I know most of our homeless clients on a first-name basis and that gives some meaning to what we’re doing.

You spend a lot of time helping others, what do you do for YOU?

Sue and I love to travel and spend with friends and family. I used to sail a lot but now sail model sailboats in Golden Gate Park. I also like to help out the gardeners at our local park by pruning and gardening. And, of course, our dog Archie gets three walks a day. Aside from that, I like to cook and Sue and I go to the symphony, the opera, and Berkeley Rep.  

Lastly, any suggestions on how to keep our companion animals healthy?

Yes, good nutrition, lots of walks, and visit the vet once a year. It’s the same for people! 

For more information on Phil, please visit

Phil received his DVM degree from the Univ. of California, Davis in 1959. He also has an MPH degree from Johns Hopkins University and an MVSc from the Univ. of Melbourne, Australia where he was the lecturer in epidemiology and public health. He has been involved in both large and small animal medicine and teaching in California and Australia, and medical research for 3 years in Taiwan. He was born in San Francisco and returned here in 2006. At present he volunteers regularly with PAWS and with Vet SOS and still practices small animal medicine one day a week.


  • Since we started in 2012 we have helped save over 165 pets that might otherwise have been euthanized due to their guardians being unable to afford necessary veterinary care. Overall we have provided over $167,000 in Grants-in-Aid funds that serviced $318,000 in veterinary charges.
  •  As more local veterinarians become acquainted with our program the more wish to join us. In our first year (2012) we had six veterinarians working with us, this year (2015) we have eighty-one.
  • Please be assured that your donations go to help save pets. We are an all-volunteer organization with no employees to pay and no office space to support.
  • We thank you for your support and hope that you will continue to support us in this important work. You can donate to us either online at or by mailing a check (made to Community Initiatives/SFAFA) to 354 Pine Street, Suite 700, San Francisco, CA 94104-3229.    

Your gift will make a difference. Please Donate to SFAfA

Copyright © 2016, All rights reserved.

San Francisco Aid for Animals - SFAfA

Founded by San Francisco Veterinary Medical Association

A fiscally sponsored project of Community Initiatives, 501(c)(3)

354 Pine Street, Suite 700, San Francisco, CA 94104-3229 •

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San Francisco Aid for Animals · 354 Pine Street · San Francisco, CA 94104 · USA

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