When San Diego Humane Society was awarded the animal services contracts for Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, San Diego, Santee and Solana Beach—on top of the six we were already serving—we knew we’d have to hit the ground running. We hired more than 200 new employees to prepare for the expansion and worked diligently to get everybody trained in time. It was amazing to see the way our veterans stepped up to help the new employees, but while we’re acclimating to so many new faces—thank heavens for nametags!
The expansion has been a lot of work, and with more animals than ever in our care, it’s meant a gigantic change in our day-to-day functioning. For instance, we opened a new call center so that we can be a resource to the community for all pet-related needs. We were impressed by the wide range of calls that came in—everything from “My neighbor’s dog won’t stop barking” to “There’s a litter of bunnies on my lawn.” Everyone jumped in to offer their time and expertise, and staffing the resource center is now a campus-wide effort.
We took in 3,450 animals in July alone. The top reason given when a person can’t keep their pets is the cost of veterinary care, but one opportunity presented by this is introducing more people to PAWS San Diego, our program that takes some of the financial burden off low-income San Diegans. While we can’t pay for everyone’s veterinary expenses, we can certainly help by providing critical care vouchers for local vets and using our CARE program for emergencies. These are just a few of the alternatives to pet
relinquishment we offer.
We’ve also taken over pet licensing for most of the county. Licensing helps keep pets safe and can help reunite lost pets with their owners. Now residents in our 12 contract cities can renew licenses online using PetHub, a service that provides a tag with a QR code.
We did not take the decision to care for 20,000 more animals and about a million more people lightly. Our mission is to be the safety net for San Diego County. As the official “third most pet-friendly city in the country,” we can’t afford to drop the ball on offering the resources people need to keep their pets—especially since we want to vie for first place!
Gary Weitzman, DVM, MPH, CAWA
President and CEO
San Diego Humane Society