Read why China's tail is wagging again...
View this email in your browser

Welcome to our Summer 2016 newsletter! If you are an active SFAfA supporter, please accept our sincere thanks for your continued financial support. If this is your first newsletter, this is who we are, what we do and how you can help— 

SF Aid for Animals was founded by a handful of local veterinarians with the goal of providing funds to pet guardians who are financially unable to afford the costs of care for their pet’s unexpected life-threatening medical needs. Since we started making grants in 2012 we have helped save nearly 200 pets and awarded $117,000. This past year alone we provided over $45,000 to help save 68 pets (17 cats, 49 dogs, 1 bird and 1 very well-loved turtle). 

Your donations help a wide variety of cases:

With our grant-matching program every one dollar donated results in at least two dollars of veterinary care. In the next year 95 local veterinarians and 15 local hospitals will be participating in our program. With your help we can help save even more pets!

For more information, please visit our website:

China's story

China entered Josie’s life on September 11, 2011 when her guardian was no longer able to care for the three-month-old female pit bull. Josie took one look at the happy, tail wagging pup and spontaneously decided that she needed a dog. She got all of her vaccinations, was spayed, generally behaved herself and formed a very close bond with Josie, who had several health issues and lived on a fixed income.

China began to develop severe allergic skin disease before she was even a year old. She was in constant misery and suffered with unrelenting inflamed skin and ears and the secondary infections that followed. Sadly, there is no cure for allergies in dogs but allergy testing and immunotherapy (allergy shots) are a great way to desensitize dogs with these conditions.

Unfortunately, Josie could not afford to buy allergy testing or a treatment program for China, so for the past four years China has been treated by Dr. Alex Herman at All Pets Hospital in San Francisco with a wide variety of medications, baths and ointments in an attempt to keep her allergies under control and to make her as comfortable as possible. 

Recently Dr. Herman received a grant from SF Aid for Animals and used it to help Josie pay for extensive allergy testing and immunotherapy for China. She is now receiving weekly shots to help control her allergic skin disease.  

Josie is extremely thankful to Dr. Herman and the entire staff at All Pets Hospital and to SF Aid for Animals for making it possible for China to receive the treatment she needs to live a happier and more comfortable life.
Meet SFAfA’s Anne Marie Benfatto

This month we turn the spotlight on one of SFAfA’s founders, Anne Marie Benfatto, who has over 25 years’ experience as a veterinarian, specializing in felines. Now retired, Anne Marie dedicates most of her time to volunteering. Anne Marie, assisted by a team of dedicated volunteers, has administered our grant program and managed our finances since SFAfA’s inception.

Why did you want to be a veterinarian?
Well, I love animals and wanted to help them! When I was in college women were not encouraged to pursue non-traditional jobs so being a veterinarian was not even on my radar. My undergraduate degree is in Marine Ecology and my dream was to work with dolphins, but there weren’t enough jobs in that specific field. So, for many years I worked in a lab at UCSF doing research on liver enzymes. It was all bench work and I missed being around animals, so in my spare time I volunteered at the SF Zoo, at veterinary hospitals and for other animal organizations. After being around all the veterinarians, I realized how much I loved the work and realized I wanted to go to vet school. 

How did SFAfA get started?
Following the economic downturn of 2008, veterinarians saw an influx of pet guardians facing euthanasia or surrender for their pet because they could no longer afford medical care, even if the pet had a treatable condition. In response, four veterinarians began working on a solution. We spent about a year and a half brainstorming and developing a model that would work for the Bay Area. As a result, SF Aid for Animals became a life-saving reality.

Do you have a favorite or most memorable patient?
One of my most memorable cases was a kitten named Dusty, who was only twelve weeks old when she was brought to my office with a wound on her leg that would not heal. I tried all sorts of medications to treat her but it continued to get worse. I then biopsied the wound and found an aggressive form of skin cancer, where the only option was to amputate the leg. I had never performed an amputation so I suggested that the family take Dusty to a surgeon. However, the family insisted that I be the one to perform the surgery; it was that or euthanasia. So, I read as much as I could, swallowed my fear and performed the surgery with success. Dusty lived a very long and happy life with no recurrence of cancer. Dusty may have been my patient that day but she taught me a life-long lesson to always trust myself. 

Any advice for future veterinarians?
Compassion, honesty, good listening skills, hard work, and lots of continuing education are the foundation to becoming a great vet. Don’t ever get too sure of yourself because that’s when mistakes can happen and always ask, “Is this something that I would want for my beloved companion?”

What about for the veterinary medical field? Anything you’d like to see change?
Just like in human medicine, I feel that it has become easy to lose sight of the patient. I worry that veterinary schools have lost some of that focus. It is critically important to teach new vets not only about the latest and greatest diagnostic or treatment modality but also about the quality of life for the patient and for the family. They all love animals, that’s evident, but that love must translate into everyday practice.  

Can you tell us about some of your volunteer achievements?
I have been volunteering since I was a kid. I have helped to teach the developmentally disabled, volunteered in a lab studying Cystic Fibrosis, helped develop peace education curriculums for schools, helped with presidential campaigns, volunteered in a human emergency room, worked with foster kids, volunteered at the SF Zoo and volunteered at veterinary hospitals and animal shelters. Currently my volunteer time is spent with SFAfA and at the Academy of Science in Golden Gate Park. 

What do you do in your spare time?
I live with my wife and two older cats, who are the loves of my life.  In my downtime, I knit, read and do photography. I spend lots of time with friends and family.  We travel extensively because travel is a way to open your mind and your heart to the possible.
  • Since we started in 2012 we have helped save nearly 200 pets that might otherwise have been euthanized due to their guardians being unable to afford veterinary care. Overall we have provided $117,000 in Grants-in-Aid funds, which our veterinarian partners have matched with donated medical services.
  • As more local veterinarians become acquainted with our program the more wish to join us. In our first year we had sixty-one veterinarians working with us, this year we have 95.
  • 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 •

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
San Francisco Aid for Animals · 354 Pine Street · San Francisco, CA 94104 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp