Sarah Wolfgang’s eyes sparkle when speaking about her mission to find forever families for the shelter dogs in her care. Wolfgang is owner of The Dog Café, the first of its kind in L.A., which evolved from her big heart and desire to help the neediest dogs.
The café focuses on rescuing dogs who have been at the shelter the longest due to health or behavioral issues and are at the highest risk of being euthanized. Wolfgang’s involvement in animal welfare dates back to her childhood when she rescued a shih tzu while walking home from school, so it’s no surprise she’s channeled her passion into a purposeful business.
While I wait in the cafe sipping a spicy ginger lemonade before my 4 p.m. entrance time, the place fills with eager animal lovers anticipating their encounters with man’s best friends. Once inside the adjacent lounge, amongst an array of wagging tails, a bevy of barks and lots of loving licks, it’s clear you don’t have to be in the market for a new pet to enjoy The Dog Cafe.
“I just want to spend quality time with dogs while here interviewing for jobs,” says Kendall Jones, visiting from San Francisco. The benefit of spending time cuddling canines is evident in the guests’ joyful faces and the nonstop selfies snapped. Smiles and laughter fill the room where the 15 or so visitors take turns petting, holding and playing with a mix of dogs ranging from puppies to seniors. The fact that people leave letting Wolfgang and staff know they’re happy and will be coming back again is what drives this dedicated young woman. “It’s great knowing that our dogs are able to heal others, all while being able to heal from emotional and physical trauma themselves,” she says.
The Dog Cafe (240 N. Virgil Ave., Silver Lake; www.thedogcafela.com) is open 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Tues.-Sun. Reservations are recommended. The $10 entrance fee includes one hour with the pups and a café drink. For safety reasons, no children under age 5 are admitted.