HAYWARD — Valentino the golden retriever has been known for his good temperament since he showed up at the Hayward Animal Shelter on Valentine’s Day five years ago, with burns on his back from hot water. It was never determined whether the burns were accidental or deliberate, and the scarring is permanent. As an ambassador, he has visited schools to teach kids about being kind to animals and senior homes to provide therapy. The shelter uses him to test the temperament of new dogs by introducing them to each other while on a leash. If the new dog lunges or acts aggressively, Valentino simply lowers his head and backs away.”
He has taught me so much about compassion,” said his human mom, Michele Putzke. Last year, he was diagnosed with heartworm, a potentially fatal parasite infection. Shelter volunteers say the treatment consisted of daily doses of arsenic — just enough to kill the parasite, but not Valentino. During the long treatment process, he was forced to remain in a kennel, since any exertion on his part could prove fatal. After months of confinement, he was finally declared free of the parasite nine weeks ago.
Then he was diagnosed with lymphoma. After being treated by a local veterinarian, his cancer is now in remission, but the medical bills are piling up. The shelter is asking for donations to the SunShine Fund to help offset the costs.
The SunShine Fund has been a private tax-exempt group since April 2006, but has been administrated by the Hayward Animal Shelter going back 20 years and was once part of the city of Hayward. The fund helps defray the costs of medical treatment for pets and has paid for everything from replacing rabbit cages to new toys for cats and dogs. It also enables feral animals and pets to get spayed or neutered, said Nancy Bradbury, SunShine Fund president, an adoption counselor and shelter volunteer. “It does what the city can’t do,” she said.
Last week, Valentino visited a senior home but needed to lie down halfway through. For now, he is resting at home. “He loves everybody,” Putzky said. “Everybody seems to have an attachment to him.”
Donations to the SunShine Fund Volunteers Valentino’s Fund may be dropped off at the Hayward Animal Shelter, 16 Barnes Court, off of Jackson Street, in Hayward, or mailed to SunShine Fund Volunteers Valentino’s Fund PMB 135, 26775 Hayward Blvd., Suite. D, Hayward, CA 94542.