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SF SPCA wants you, and your pets, to march with them at Pride

Pride 2015: This story is part of a Thursday series leading up to Pride weekend at the end of the month in which The San Francisco Examiner will spotlight The City’s LGBT community in anticipation of our special section for San Francisco Pride on June 27 and 28.

Prepare your puppies and corral your cats: The San Francisco SPCA wants you and your furry loved ones to march with them in this year’s Pride parade.

The local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is no stranger to San Francisco’s Pride march, but in years past it has limited their fellow marchers to staff and volunteers. This year, the SF SPCA is asking everyone to join as they march for LGBT Pride on June 28.

Supporting the LGBT community is “part of who we are,” said Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, co-president of the San Francisco SPCA. “Every walk of human needs love,” she said, “and needs an animal.”

“As many people who want to march with us are welcome,” Mandy Newkirk, the SPCA’s events coordinator told the San Francisco Examiner.

If you’d like to sign up to join them, visit the SPCA’s Pride march EventBrite page at

The SPCA has water and an air-conditioned space for animals if they overheat during the parade, which often occurs in hot weather, Scarlett said. The SPCA says low-to-the-ground dogs should stay away from the parade because they’re more likely to overheat.

“If you are bringing your dog to the parade, be prepared to bail,” Scarlett said.

The SPCA has enjoyed some special moments at the Pride parade. One couple, both staff at the SPCA, recalled their marriage announcement at Pride two years ago just after Proposition 8 was overturned by the Supreme Court.

The two women, George Bousley, 30, and Mandy Shafer, 29, met in Southern California while performing surgery on a tiger.

“I was placing an IV catheter in it and Mandy was assisting,” Bousley said, recalling their first meeting. “We were placing the catheter into the hind leg,” Shafer said. “We both had mohawks at the time, we bonded over ‘oh, what kind of product do you use?’”

Shafer and Bousley now own two cats, Santa and Mr. Cheeks. The latter is an orange tabby, but, Shafer clarified, not a tiger.

By the time the couple moved to San Francisco, they were dating and “serious,” Bousley said. They were hired as a team at the SPCA: Shafer in the ICU, and Bousley administering anesthesia.

“We never expected to be married,” Shafer said. When the decision came down the SPCA let Bousley leave work early. The couple raced to City Hall, and were one of the first 50 same-sex couples to get a marriage license, they said.

The next day they marched in Pride with the SPCA, and carried a sign that said, “Just Married.”

“People were freaking out,” Bousley said. Shafer said it felt like the entire city came out to support them. The SPCA let a large portion of its staff take the day off to attend their marriage ceremony in Southern California. For those that couldn’t attend, the SPCA streamed the wedding on Skype in its offices.

LGBT Pride is a concept the SPCA puts into practice often, but they’re especially excited for the march.

The SPCA’s float theme this year is “We are Animal,” though a runner-up was “50 Shades of Spay,” Newkirk said. The SPCA’s Pride float is an homage to “The Lion King’s” Pride Rock, pun intended, she said.

Spoiler: Kat Robichaud from the show, “The Voice,” will be singing on the SPCA’s float. There is no word yet if she’ll sing “Circle of Life,” the premiere song from the film “The Lion King.”

Bousley said marching with the SPCA for Pride helps her feel the gratitude of San Francisco.

“People say ‘thank you, you saved my dog!’” she said. “You see how we impact communities in all facets.”

Check out our gallery of the SPCA at Pride below.

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Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez
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Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

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