Remarkable Women: Dogwood Animal Rescue founder dedicates her life to saving animals

Bay Area

SEBASTOPOL, Calif. (KRON) — In honor of International Women’s Month coming up in March, KRON4 is revealing the four finalists of our Remarkable Women contest.

Our first woman is one that has dedicated her life to saving animals. 

Shirley Zindler has been described by some as a “saint.”

On the clock and off, she’s been rescuing animals her whole life.

KRON4 met up with her at her home in Sebastopol where she spends her days fostering and rehabilitating animals to get them ready for adoption.

Sleep for Zindler is secondary. She wakes up every two hours to feed the animals she’s fostering. 

At any given time, she houses up to 10 adult dogs, some 20 puppies, and cats.

All are spread out in cages and pet condos throughout her home in Sebastopol.

Zindler spent 30 years working in shelters and as an Animal Control Officer for Sonoma County but a heart condition forced an early retirement.

“It’s definitely more hours, and I don’t get paid. But it’s also very rewarding,” she said. 

Backed by the support of her husband and with her two grown children living elsewhere, Zindler founded the nonprofit organization Dogwood Animal Rescue Project, turning her house into a shelter. 

“During the fires, we housed animals that were evacuated. During the floods, we housed animals,” she said. 

With a dedicated network of more than 200 volunteers, she takes pets in, arranges for them to be spayed or neutered, and cares for them until the animals are ready for adoption.

“By preventing unwanted litters, we’re saving thousands of lives. Far more than we could ever save just through rescue,” she explains. 

In four years, she says her group has saved more than 1,000 animals from death and receives up to 20 requests a day from people either needing help with a rescue or assistance addressing a pet’s health.

“It’s just such a team. Like, we’ve all pulled together to make this happen, and I have had people tell me that I inspire them. But they inspire me too,” she said. 

Zindler knows not every animal can be saved and she can’t help every person. But don’t tell her that. For her, life is everything and she’s in the business of saving lives.

Our Remarkable Women finalists will be revealed every Tuesday. Each of the finalists profiled on KRON4 were nominated by friends, family or the people impacted by their work. The winner of our local Remarkable Women Contest will receive a free trip to New York City and attend the Mel Robbins show.

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