When Nancy King was a few weeks old, her family adopted a puppy—an act which became the start of her lifelong mission to help lost and abandoned pets. King grew up to become the longtime executive director of Sonoma Valley’s Pets Lifeline, a group that has helped more than 15,000 local animals since its founding in 1982.
Recently, the nonprofit relocated to a brand-new building that matches the expanded scale of its mission, which now includes variety of programs aimed at improving the lives of animals and their caregivers: free clinics for low-income pet owners, dog training programs, financial assistance for senior pet owners, summer camps for for children, and a pet food pantry that began as a response to Covid and is still going strong.
Below, King talks about Pets Lifeline and shares a few anecdotes.
Pets are good for us
We work with all kinds of people: seniors, kids, the developmentally disabled, folks who suffer from memory loss. The visceral difference an animal makes peoples’ lives is amazing. Studies show that having a cat or a dog reduces your blood pressure and relieves anxiety.
There are so many stories! Recently we had a Rottweiler-mix puppy named Azalea. She was a wonderful dog—but a lot of dog! An elderly couple totally fell in love with her and took her in. The couple’s adult kids thought a puppy would be way too much for them, but they were determined to do everything they could to help the puppy. This kind of dedication is so touching.
A bigger mission
The new building gives us the opportunity to do so much more: We now have a full veterinary clinic, a big indoor/outdoor dog yard, and we’re able to take in more animals. The dogs have room to hang out, enjoy the sunshine, lay on their beds with their toys—and all the animals are all so much calmer, happier, and more receptive. We really notice a behavioral difference.
Before, we only had two cat rooms, so if any of the cats didn’t get along or had a health issue, we had to put them in cages in the hallways. Now we have eight cat habitats that are big, beautiful and light. Our kitten room is very popular—we often find the staff hanging out there on breaks. We either call it the “catio” or the “meow-cony!”
We say generosity is a state of mind — no donation is too big or too small! We’re always looking for food for the pet food pantry, and we’d love for people to volunteer. Sonoma County is an amazing community to be a part of. This is a very giving place.