Getting to Zero

San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition’s efforts to eliminate euthanasia


Together, the San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition (SDAWC)*, which is comprised of seven local animal shelters, has been working towards “Getting to Zero,” a movement to eliminate the need for unnecessary euthanasia of homeless pets in San Diego. These seven shelters have committed to working together to transfer homeless pets between organizations and find solutions for each individual animal. As of July 1, 2015, Getting to Zero will be achieved, meaning for the first time in San Diego history, no animal will be euthanized for space or time.

“We feel the obligation to be the safety net for all animals in San Diego County,” says Dr. Gary Weitzman, President and CEO of the San Diego Humane Society, whose leadership launched the Getting to Zero Initiative in 2012.

Getting to Zero has four target areas: spay/neuter, transport from other shelters to the Humane Society, adoptions, and providing options for owners to keep animals in their homes. Since January 2014, the Humane Society has had an open admission policy, meaning they will not turn away any animal in need—instead treating animals with chronic conditions in the hopes of adopting them out and providing extensive behavior training to treatable animals with aggression or socialization issues.

“We are committed to every animal that comes through our door,” says Dr. Weitzman.

Imagine 45,000 of anything. Dollars: that’s roughly the median income of an individual in San Diego County.People: that’s nearly the capacity of Petco Park. Now imagine that every seat at Petco Park was filled with an animal—that’s the number of homeless animals that end up in shelters each year in San Diego County.

Of those 45,000, many are healthy and adoptable. Many others, however, fall into one of two other categories: treatable or unhealthy. Sadly, several thousand animals in those two categories don’t make it to happy homes. In 2012, 3,500 treatable animals were euthanized; in 2013, that number dropped to 2,910, and in 2014, roughly 1,500, thanks to the efforts of the San Diego Humane Society and its partners in the San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition.

MORE INFO: What is “G20” and what does it mean for animals in San Diego?

San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition:

*The San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition (SDAWC) shares a common purpose in saving animals’ lives, preventing animal suffering, and eliminating animal abandonment. It is comprised of the following organizations:

Chula Vista Animal Care Facility, Coronado Animal Care Facility, El Cajon Animal Shelter, Friends of Cats, Rancho Coastal Humane Society, San Diego County Department of Animal Services, San Diego Humane Society