Dogs do so much. They served honorably in wars and K-9 units, and at airports they sniff out drugs or explosives. Search and Rescue dogs can find a lost child or an injured person in a fallen building.  They alert epileptics of a seizure or can sniff out cancer. They are eyes for the blind or a friend when we’re not feeling well. They are guard dogs, companions and family members; they can fill a void.

Through no fault of their own, they can be down on their luck. Around 80 million dogs live in U.S, homes. Many will end up in a shelter because: owners have passed on, people move and can’t take their animals; finances; or, it wasn’t a good match. Or there aren’t enough homes or people who want them.

Shelters and rescue organizations give many animals a second chance. Staff and volunteers make an incredible difference when animals and people are brought together.

Overpopulation is a problem but Santa Cruz County residents can be proud that we have laws that curb the excess of unwanted animals:

6.10.030 Mandatory spaying/neutering.

(A) No person shall own, harbor or keep within the unincorporated area of Santa Cruz County, a dog or cat over the age of six months, which has not been spayed or neutered unless such person holds an unaltered animal certification for the animal issued pursuant to SCCC 6.10.050.

Cody was a German Shepherd pup, with a broken jaw who was dropped off at a shelter. She couldn’t eat, was emaciated and her days were numbered. An incredible network of caring people, and rescue organization raised funds to save her. After a lifesaving surgery she required rehabilitation. That’s when PJ Vasconcellos stepped in. 

PJ has a passion for German Shepherds. She says it’s all about their eyes. They are regal, loyal, fun loving and playful. They are smart, aware, and they protect the home.  They really love toys.

Fourteen years ago PJ started fostering German Shepherds, giving them time and training for eventual adoption. She’s been a foster, a dog evaluator, a Regional Manager, and, adoption counselor. But titles don’t convey the magic she imparts when pairing animals with potential adopters. Call it an inner sense, or call her a matchmaker extraordinaire. If it isn’t right for both parties, she won’t make the match. These dogs have gone through too much and she needs to get it right. She has rehomed hundreds of dogs.

When PJ stepped up to rehabilitate Cody, she was all in. Cody’s jaws were wired together, immobilized, to fuse her broken mandible. For nourishment, PJ rolled little balls of soft food and tucked them into Cody’s mouth twice a day for months. She gave this poor pup love and saved this dog, in every way.

Then PJ did the hardest thing-she let go. Cody went to a nice family in Ben Lomond – our family! Now we’re friends and she can visit any time. When PJ visits, Cody is wild with joy- no one greets you like a dog. 

But the story gets better - PJ has started Redwood Coast German Shepherd Rescue, Inc. right here in Ben Lomond. Foster families and volunteers live in the San Lorenzo Valley.

PJ evaluates all dogs for the organization. They’re not all perfect but she sees potential and gives them training and enculturation. They are safe and sound dogs. Whether a broken leg or a broken spirit, she and the fosters give them confidence to become the dog they were meant to be, to be part of a family, a companion, or running partner.  Once she says yes to a dog, it’s forever.

Dogs taken in by Redwood Coast German Shepherd Rescue, Inc. receive a lifelong commitment to never let them down again.

If you have a spot in your home, or heart, consider adopting or becoming a foster through Redwood Coast German Shepherd Rescue, Inc.  Volunteers are the backbone of our organization. 100% of donations go directly to the dogs in our care; there are no paid positions.                                                                                

To Learn more contact: Redwood Coast German Shepherd Rescue, Inc., P.O. Box 598, 831-205-4321,

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