Maddie's Center, Innovative Companion Animal Non-Profit, Coming to Park

Organization Looks to Pioneer New Techniques, Procedures in 90,000 Square Foot Facility

With the arrival of Maddie's Center, a next-generation companion animal care and teaching facility, another visionary enterprise has chosen to settle in Hacienda.

The 90,000-square-foot center will house the many operations of Maddie's Fund, the family foundation established David Duffield, of PeopleSoft and Workday fame, and his wife Cheryl. Three primary groups will occupy the building at 4280 Hacienda Drive: the grant-giving arm, the direct-care center, and a think-tank-like institute that will train thought leaders around the world in best practices, according to Maddie's Fund President Rich Avanzino.

Beyond providing a bricks-and-mortar facility, the organization aspires to revolutionize the status and well-being of companion animals. Given its long-held focus on hard-to-place canines and felines, Maddie's Center aims to make it easier and less costly to treat and place homeless pets who are sick, injured, or poorly behaved. It has the specific goal of seeing that "all the dogs and cats in America enjoy a loving home by 2015."

Avanzino explains that society already does a good job housing the "cute and cuddlies," but the "old and uglies" remain a problem. "We expect to take on that challenge and innovate for the rest of the world, pioneering new advances and training future animal welfare leaders in shelter medicine, nutrition, housing, and technology adapted for animal care." The new facility will also be "a testing ground for new marketing methods, protocols, and remedies."

The planning effort is just getting underway. Some 50 advisers across a variety of disciplines, from shelters and hospitals to academia and advocacy groups, will come together to collaborate on the facility's programming and design. That process should take four to six months, after which the project architect will be selected. Then comes construction, with a grand opening anticipated before 2014.

Avanzino points out that the center's activities will benefit not only the four-legged creatures but their human companions as well. "Dogs and cats bring out some of the best characteristics in our species - love, loyalty, friendship," he observes. "Caring for those who can't speak for themselves leads to better stewardship for all life on this planet."

Maddie's Fund currently occupies a 3,000-square-foot facility in Alameda and has eight employees. With completion of the new center the workforce could rise to 200, not to mention a strong core of volunteers.

"We hope to engage Hacienda employees in our mission," says Avanzino. Not only will they be invited to events, but, even more important, they can become involved as volunteers and foster care providers, and maybe even adopters. They will be welcome to come in during their lunch break to walk the dogs and pet the cats, "to provide a little human kindness" as the animals go through recovery. While technology will play a huge role, "we expect to heal difficult-to-place animals with love, compassion, and innovation," he concludes.

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