Essential workers on BART: Meet the San Francisco SPCA's Daniel Malin


Essential workers on BART: Meet the San Francisco SPCA's Daniel Malin

Story by MELISSA JORDAN | Photos and video by MARIA J. AVILA
BART Communications 

In the city of San Francisco, named for the patron saint of animals, the SF SPCA is providing essential services to animals for sick, urgent and emergency care visits during the coronavirus pandemic, and still helping animals find forever homes (by individual appointment).

To do so, the SF SPCA needs its workers, and those workers need a safe and reliable way to get to work. That's where BART comes in.

Daniel Malin takes BART from Oakland to his job at the SF SPCA's Mission Campus. He works in customer service so he might help intake an injured dog for emergency surgery, arrange for a foster pickup, or schedule a telemedicine appointment. (The SF SPCA is currently closed other than for emergencies or by appointment for adoptions or fosters, to allow for safe social distancing.) Malin also makes the rounds giving out belly rubs and chin scritches to the animals.

Daniel Malin takes BART to work

"BART takes me from MacArthur to 16th St./Mission, where I help people and their animals every day," he said. "BART is the cheapest and most reliable way I have to get to work," said Malin, who doesn't own a car. He takes the first train of the morning and works 10-hour days, so both ends of his commute have mostly had plenty of room for safe social distancing, he said.

"When I get off BART, the dogs and cats of San Francisco are counting on me to come to work," he said. "Because without people like myself who use BART, we couldn't run our services to help people and their animals in need."

A very good pup enjoys sitting in the sunlight in one of the SF SPCA’s spacious rooms A very good pup enjoys sitting in the sunlight in one of the SF SPCA’s spacious rooms 

The COVID-19 shelter-in-place order for the Bay Area classifies veterinarians as essential service providers. The SF SPCA is setting up telemedicine appointments for things that don't fall under sick, urgent or emergency care.

"COVID-19 has dramatically impacted our operations," said Krista Maloney, Communications and Community Engagement Manager for the SF SPCA. "Our adoption center has been closed since the shelter-in-place order went into effect, and most of our shelter animals are now in foster homes."

"Pets can be a great source of comfort during difficult and stressful times," Maloney said. "Studies suggest that spending time with an animal has many health benefits, like lowering anxiety levels. Having pets or a foster animal during shelter-in-place is often a win-win for both the animal and guardian."

Currently, foster pets are being placed with volunteers who have already completed training. If you would like to get on the list for training in the future, visit and fill out the foster interest form.

"We’re still figuring out how best to move forward with adoptions while prioritizing health and safety, Maloney said. "If you’re interested in adopting a specific animal, email [email protected] to inquire about the current adoption process."

The SF SPCA is an independent nonprofit that is 152 years old. It is not associated with any national organization and does not receive any government funding. "We rely on community support, and we need it now more than ever. If you’d like to make a donation, please visit," she said.

Malin said every donation is appreciated for the SF SPCA's work helping keep people and pets together, safe and healthy. During a break between phone calls, he walked around interacting with the animals.

Daniel Malin interacts with Romeo, left, while another worker weighs a tuxedo cat in a room with with a Castro Theatre marquee r

Romeo, a tabby mix adjusting on three legs after an amputation, followed Malin's finger as he traced it on the outside of the glass. In the next room over, another SF SPCA worker stroked and weighed a tuxedo cat. 

"I've seen a lot of people help animals, and a lot of animals help people," Malin said.

Dr. Jena Valdez, Director of Community Medicine at SF SPCA, had a few tips for folks sheltering in place with their pets:

  • Don't overdo it with walks; just because you have more time on your hands, your pet still needs rest time. "Exercise is great for everyone, but always in moderation," she said.
  • The season for foxtails, which can lodge in pets' fur, paws or noses, is upon us, as is flea and tick season. Use preventatives and check your pet's coat after a walk.
  • If your pet has behavioral issues, shelter-in-place may be a perfect time for concentrated focus on those. You can schedule a televisit with an animal behavioral expert.
  • Always wash your hands before and after interacting with your pet.
  • Always spay or neuter pets to prevent overpopulation.
  • If you or someone you know cannot safely care for a pet, please contact an animal welfare agency so that another guardian may be found. Pets are sensitive creatures and should never be dumped or left behind.
  • Don't shop, adopt. There are many healthy animals in animal protection agencies and shelters waiting for a home.

Do you know of an essential worker taking BART who is interested in telling their story? Tweet to us @sfbart and we may reach out to show the important jobs of essential workers and how BART helps them do their work.