The story is this: Dave and Cheryl Duffield adopted their miniature schnauzer Maddie when she was a tiny puppy, and she became a loyal, loved member of their family.

One day in 1994, Dave Duffield was playing with Maddie as his software company PeopleSoft was just getting off the ground. He picked up his small dog and said, "If we ever make some money, I promise we will give it back to you and your kind so others can be as happy as we are today."

PeopleSoft was plenty successful, of course, and the Duffields kept their promise. For the past 15 years, the Pleasanton-based Maddie's Fund has been providing money for various pursuits -- hands-on animal care, research, education -- in the name of "revolutionizing the status and well-being of companion animals."

The ultimate goal, said Maddie's Fund president Rich Avanzino, is to "empty the shelters," and to ensure that, one day, no animal is ever put to death in one.

"It's a dream all animal lovers have had," said Avanzino, Maddie's Fund president since its inception. "We want to find homes not only for the 'cute and cuddlies,' but the 'old and uglies,' too."

To that end, Maddie's Fund holds its annual Pet Adoption Days, this year on Saturday and Sunday, May 31 and June 1, at almost 100 shelters and pet/pet supplies stores throughout the Bay Area.

Maddie's Fund dollars, Avanzino said, go to those shelters and agencies (who often set up shop at pet businesses on weekend days) to pay for spaying/neutering, immunizations, adoption fees and -- sometimes -- other medical costs that the adopting family would typically have to pay.


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That amount is typically from $50 to $250 per animal, he said.

Maddie's Fund has earmarked $10 million to give the participating organizations in the nine states in which it operates, donating up to $2,000 for every dog or cat adopted during the two days.

This funding helps the groups save and treat more animals throughout the year.

Jesse, a young cat found alongside a Martinez road recently, had a broken leg, among other injuries. Jesse was treated for his injuries by Contra Costa-based Community Concern for Cats. Candace Olsen, past president of that group, said Jesse will be at Pet Food Express in Lafayette this weekend as part of the Maddie's Fund event there.

"Most people don't realize that our fee doesn't even come close to paying the cost of rescuing a cat ... So the funds from Maddie's Days allows us to do more rescues all year long," Olsen said.

Maddie's Pet Adoption Days
Adoption events are going on all over the Bay Area, and beyond, Saturday and Sunday. To find the nearest event, go to http://adopt.maddiesfund.org/participants/bay-area/, and click on the county you're interested in.