When you consider the reasons a dog or cat is relinquished to a shelter, behavior concerns top the list. That’s why behavior training is one of the strongest pillars San Diego Humane Society is built upon. We take rehabilitation of our animals very seriously—both medically and behaviorally. Our goal is to keep animals safe and sound and in their own homes. That’s where our Behavior Center comes in. Near and dear to my heart, it opened in 2013 with the goal of saving the lives of behaviorally challenging animals who may otherwise have been euthanized due to reactivity or shy, fearful behavior. Today, three years later, we have successfully graduated 1,811 animals from the Behavior Center into homes. That’s 1,811 lives saved, thanks to the hard work of the talented, selfless staff that dedicate themselves to working with each animal over and over until he or she is ready to be adopted. This amazing program—which you can read about on page 14—is one of only two in the country, and serves as a national model for what other shelters across the country can do to save more lives.
And this is only one piece of the puzzle. Just as critical to the behavioral well-being of an animal is any new pet parent’s work to continue the training. By the way, the benefits of training are not just for dogs. Cats and rabbits, and even rats, can all benefit from training and become graduates, too. Whether you receive training here in one of our many classes (read about a few on page 28), at your local pet supply retailer, or with a private trainer, it’s essential for the relationship you build with your dog. For me, training classes are the absolute best orientation on how to communicate with your dog—the best way to set the rules, set boundaries, and prepare for the next 15 or more years ahead with a happy, healthy, well educated animal.
Gary Weitzman, DVM, MPH, CAWA
President and CEO
San Diego Humane Society