The Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) based in Walnut Creek is at its heart, an animal rescue and adoption center. However, they have many programs that expand beyond simple housing and rehoming of pets, and offer some fun things for kids and families, even ones who are not currently looking to adopt a new pet.
We have attended two events at the ARF facility, a tour, and a birthday party, and enjoyed both. They were very similarly run, with some obvious extras included for the party that I will go over in a bit.
At both events we were toured around the facility, seeing more of the ‘behind the scenes’ areas with the tour than the party. Although the tour was with an older set of kids, so that may have been part of the reason. Our groups started out in both cases, watching a short video about the history of ARF including how and why former Oakland A’s manager Tony La Russa came to found the animal rescue foundation. We were shown the cats and dogs that were at the center waiting for adoption, and learned about the volunteers that help keep the center running.
At the end of the tour we went to a room that housed a play veterinary hospital and pet store. At the party, the children were all given little stuffed doggies or cats and taught how to take care of them in the play veterinary office. They learned to brush their teeth, give them vaccines, and check in their ears. At the play store, they shopped for things they might need to take care of their new pets at home. Then, in both the tour and the party, we got to meet a live dog and get a lesson on how to safely and politely greet and pet a new dog. This ended the tour, but the party went on to have snacks and cake, and gift opening before coming to an end.
I did not organize or set up either of these events, but was told by the person who set up the tour for us that it was a bit of a challenge to do so. The parties are apparently the main way the center usually introduces children to the work of the foundation, and she was encouraged to take that path. Eventually she was able to set up a tour without a party, but this may or may not be something ARF is willing or able to do on a regular basis. For a party, on the other hand, there is information on the ARF website, and appears that would be something fairly straightforward to do. Everyone at the party we attended, kids and adults alike, appeared to have a terrific time.
I should also mention that you can of course, just show up and have a look around on your own without the benefit of an organized tour if you want. The animals are there to be seen, and hopefully find new homes after all. There are also some great volunteer opportunities for older kids too. So go check them out!