Many Cal Poly students miss their beloved pets back at home, and are often unable to have their own pets due to housing policies. A way to get a fix of their dearly missed family members is to visit Woods Humane Society, a donation-based animal shelter in San Luis Obispo.
“Being away from my dogs makes me sad sometimes. Going to Woods and seeing some puppies and petting them, and seeing them be happy makes me happy,” Cal Poly Animal Science major, Keely McLaughlin, said. “I think [volunteering at Woods] would be awesome because it is giving back to the community while doing something you love, and I think it’s a symbiotic relationship between me and the dogs because they make me less stressed and they’d be happier because they’re getting walked and pet.”
Most of the volunteers at Woods Humane Society are Cal Poly students and retired SLO residents.
Spring break is coming up soon, so I was curious if that affected Woods’ volunteer help and overall operation of the Humane Society.
“[Cal Poly students] usually stay. They have no homework, or anything to study for. So, you get a lot of people with down time, cuddling, and a lot of off-site hikes as well,” Caitlin Amaral, Animal Care Supervisor of Woods Humane Society, said about spring break coming up.
Amaral deals with managing the animals and the people of the Humane Society, and is really satisfied with how Woods Humane Society has features not seen in many other shelters.
“We have on-staff veterinary care. We have an entire surgery center, and we do all the spays and neuters for the county, the public, and our facility. We also have on-staff trainers, so we have an entire pod dedicated for public or our dogs strictly behavioral training. Those are two things not very many shelters have,” Amaral said.
The Humane Society now has a brand new Cattery which opened on Friday, providing better accommodations for the cats, and allowing for more specific attention to the 58 cats’ personalities, sicknesses, and special diets.
Woods offers many programs for younger children to get involved and to start their love for animals early on. Some of the new programs include Painting on Sundays which is when children from the community paint one of the long-term animal residents, and one of the paintings gets to go home with the family who adopts the animal.
They are also doing their second year of Spring Break Camp, which is a one-week program that introduces younger kids to the world of shelter animals, rescued animals, wildlife conservation and animal care.
Woods also has preexisting programs such as Book Buddies, where kids read to dogs and cats outside of their kennels. Critter Camp is also offered in the summer and allows the kids to learn about overpopulation, responsible pet care, and help the animals get adopted.
Woods does not euthanize animals if they don’t find a home within a certain time period. Amaral said two months is about the maximum amount of time that a dog will be in the shelter because of the frequent adoptions, and improved social media and outreach programs.
“If they don’t find a home, then they’ll be here forever. We have no length of stay. Last year we beat our all time record. We had over 1,800 adoptions,” Amaral said.
Their biggest adoption day is on Black Friday. Usually 50 to 60 leave the shelter that day, so Woods goes empty and then takes more animals in to refill the shelter.
Amaral’s favorite part about working at the Woods Humane Society is, “seeing the dogs in Los Angeles or Bakersfield and seeing how they are there, then bringing them here and transforming them into just an outgoing, loving animal, and then finding that perfect home. That start to finish process of happiness is just the best thing here, which keeps most people working here.”
Woods is also merging with their north county location in the Atascadero area. Since they are finishing up with the Cattery construction, they are now focusing on renovating the north county location, which currently only has cats.