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People: Teresa Downey to the Rescue

(Photo - Teresa Downey playing with a rescue dog)
Teresa Downey plays with a rescue dog at a Furry Friends event. (Photo courtesy Teresa Downey.)

As an enterprise application manager for SLAC Computer Services, Teresa Downey helps manage the software that keeps the business side of the lab running. In her free time, though, she takes on a completely different role, working to find homes for displaced pets everywhere.

Downey works with a volunteer-run organization called Furry Friends Rescue. Members of the group travel to animal shelters throughout the Bay Area, testing and rescuing dogs and cats at risk of being euthanized. The rescued pets are assigned to foster homes, where Furry Friends volunteers care for them until permanent homes can be found.

According to Downey, the program works, and since 1998 has helped find permanent homes for more than 4,400 animals.

"Within 24 hours of being rescued, the dogs have gone to the vet, and are up on half a dozen different Web sites so that people can see them," she said. "A couple days later they're in a foster home."

By placing pets in foster homes, Downey said, the organization has the time needed to find the right, permanent homes for the cats and dogs, helping to ensure that they don't end up returning to shelters.

"The shelters and humane societies do adoptions much faster," Downey said. "I think, in the end, the animals are much happier once they're in our foster homes. They have a much better chance of having the 'forever adoption.'"

Downey has volunteered with Furry Friends for three years, and over that time has hosted more than a dozen pets, some for as long as five months. She said that while it can be hard to say goodbye to the animals she takes care of, it's rewarding to know that the pets are going to good homes.

"It's just wonderful to see that they've found a family that will love and take care of them no matter what," she said. "I still stay in touch with a lot of the people. I still get e-mails and pictures from some of the families."

Every Saturday afternoon, Downey also goes to the Mountain View Pet Club, hosting "pet showcases" to promote Furry Friends Rescue and to introduce would-be adopters to potential adoptees. According to Downey, the events not only help publicize the program, but help raise awareness of pet issues.

All of the work keeps Downey busy to be sure. Aside from the pets that she adopts, her family keeps five dogs of their own (that's four Mini Schnauzer mixes and one Bichon Frise mix).

For more information on pet adoption, or to find out how to volunteer, visit the Furry Friends Rescue Web site.

—Nicholas Bock
SLAC Today, November 11, 2009