More than 600 animals are housed at the north and central campuses of the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA, all with the singular goal of finding their forever homes.
To help improve the chances of these animals’ adoptions, the San Diego Humane Society is working with some local pet stores to replace animals that come from puppy mills and kitten factories with rescue animals.
The Humane Society has developed what they call a “humane model” in partnership with local pet stores in order to manage the stray animals and pet relinquishments that the shelter oversees.
“A lot of pet stores like to have animals in their stores because it’s a draw for people to come shop, but we just want to make sure that the animals aren’t being sourced from puppy mills,” said Kelli Schry, public relations manager for the San Diego Humane Society. “We have so many homeless animals right here in our own community that need good homes.”
Getting healthy and treatable animals into homes
As a privately funded animal shelter, the San Diego Humane Society does not turn away any stray animals, but they do have limited space for pet relinquishments. Animal euthanasia, however, is only an option the cases of diseases and behavioral disorders that cannot be treated through medicine or therapy. In order to accommodate the large number of pet relinquishments, the Humane Society works with the government-funded County of San Diego Department of Animal Services.
The Humane Society’s president, Dr. Gary Weitzman, has made it a goal to reach zero euthanasia in the San Diego community. One way to help reach that goal is by educating pet owners of proper animal care, which will then enable the Humane Society and other animals within the San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition to take in more stray animals and relinquished pets. The San Diego Humane Society, in particular, is hoping to implement a new program by January 2014 that will enable them to take in all relinquished pets that come their way.
VIDEO: Humane Society adoption counselor Domenic Paneno talks about the recent adoption of more than 80 kittens by families throughout San Diego.
Other services and programs offered through the San Diego Humane Society
In addition to their partnership with local pet stores, the San Diego Humane Society offers a variety of in-house services and programs in order to better manage animal overpopulation and to educate San Diegans in the process.
The Humane Society’s campuses, located in Linda Vista and Oceanside, offer a wide range of services to meet needs of both the animals and their caretakers. Though pet adoptions may be the most popular service available, the shelter regularly provides education and therapy programs, and even emergency assistance in extreme situations, such as floods or fires.
Elkie Willis works as a coordinator with the San Diego Humane Society’s adult education programs.
Adult education programs are informative and helpful for pet owners, and can also offer participants a social setting to interact with like-minded individuals, according to Willis.
“Each of these programs offers guests a chance to learn more about how to be a better pet parent, but also takes their relationship to another level with their pet,” Willis said. “Spending more time with and learning more about their animal’s needs is important in having a healthy and happy relationship.”
The Humane Society also offers youth education programs. These programs give children and teenagers the opportunity to get involved with the organization and learn more about pet care. Laura Leonard, an educator who works with the Humane Society, says that youth education programs empower youth to explore careers in the animal welfare field, develop self-confidence and emotion management skills, and to ultimately identify ways that they can contribute toward building a more compassionate society.
“As an educator, my greatest reward is sharing these learning experiences with the youth I teach. I love getting to watch students make connections between their own needs and the needs of animals,” Leonard said. “I’m inspired when I see passionate students take what they have learned and put it into action.”
Building a responsible pet community
According to Schry, there are many perks to adopting through an animal shelter versus a breeder or pet store. All adoptable pets at the San Diego Humane Society have already been micro-chipped, vaccinated, and spayed or neutered prior to placement in new homes. Through a partnership with Veterinary Centers of America (VCA) animal hospitals, those who adopt animals from the shelter are given a $250 credit toward their pet’s first visit to a veterinarian. Additionally, animals at the San Diego Humane Society have already been through training with behavioral specialists in order to educate new pet owners about their adopted pet’s personality and needs.
“We can take animals into our shelters, we can care for them, we can adopt them out, but to help animals and to help people be responsible pet owners are the only ways we’re going to address the issues of overcrowded shelters,” Schry said. “If we can educate people of the proper care of animals, the more responsible pet community we will have, and it will reduce the number of animals that are coming to the shelter.”