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  • Writer's pictureCheryl Anne Stapp

True Friend to Dogs

Ever since the westward migration of the 1840s and 1850s brought dogs in large numbers to California, stray and abandoned animals have been an on-going problem—especially in urban areas—despite the many civic and private institutions organized more than a hundred years ago to remedy the issue. In May, 1929, the Sausalito Fire Chief was hailed in print for his one-man efforts to minister to the wants of needy canines.

Charles Loriana was the self-appointed friend and protector of stray dogs, lonesome dogs, untrained dogs, deserted dogs, and dogs without a ray of hope. For ten years, he had tirelessly given a helping hand to dogs cowed by humans who beat them, dogs cruelly dumped to fend for themselves onto Sausalito’s ferry boat pier by motorists, or impounded strays that just needed a friend and a kindly pat on the head. All over town, Sausalito residents, especially the children, loved Charley for two reasons: He was the friend of the homeless dog, and the friend of the dogless home.

Between fighting fires, Charles Loriana found time to not only rescue injured dogs, place their broken bones in splints and nurture them back to health, but to teach children how to understand, love them, and care for them. Moreover, he trained the dogs, too: to become real house pets, to perform tricks that tickled children, to guard children as they roamed the streets to and from school and while at play.

A true story soon circulated: some years back, Chief Loriana, wanting a dog, had applied to the City Pound. He felt so sorry for all those lost animals, with their pleading eyes, that he took all of them home.

Over the years, he placed hundreds of formerly hungry, friendless and homeless dogs in Sausalito homes and other northern California homes. For sure, Fire Chief Loriana already held a special place in the hearts of man and beast alike before a popular feature writer for the San Francisco Call spread his fame to new residents, in an article about Charley’s humanitarian activities. Nor was that the end of it. Chief Loriana continued to support and sponsor helpless animals for many years to come.

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