Jefferson Award Winner Saves Dogs From High-Kill SheltersBy Allen Martin

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) Angela Padilla has a special connection to her dogs.

“Shelter dogs saved my life when I was struggling with cancer,” she explained.

Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002, she says volunteering with shelter dogs gave her a purpose, a distraction from her disease and treatment.

“When I was struggling with cancer and I was bald, in chemo, and I was really sick and I couldn’t work, I was an underdog,” she recalled.

So in 2010, when she was health again, she decided to return the favor, and created “Family Dog Rescue” to take in dogs from high-kill shelters.

“There’s lots of groups that help healthy dogs and able dogs,” she said. “But very few can help deaf dogs and blind dogs and sick dogs and injured dogs and that’s really the work of my heart.”

She’s now expanded the operation to bring in dogs from the streets of Mexico and Guatemala.

Family Dog Rescue adopts out 800 dogs a year. The Wirth family, including Tim and daughter Zoe, were among the first families, when they found “Oscar.”

“These dogs need love,” Tim Wirth said. “And they have so much love to give. We got him when he was not quite a puppy, he joined our family. and has just been an extraordinary addition.”

As for the future of Family Dog Rescue, Padilla would like to expand spay and neuter programs to address the problem of too many dogs. And she has another dream:

“I’d love to start a ranch up in one of the northern counties too where we can accommodate larger dogs and we do more educational programs for youth,” she said.

So for taking in dogs that might not have had a chance of finding homes, and matching them with loving families, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Angela Padilla.

To find one of Family Dog Rescue’s mobile adoption events, click here for their calendar.