It’s no secret that pets make our lives better— and research is increasingly showing the incredible ways animals enrich our lives. According to the Human Animal Bond Research Institute, the love of a pet can improve our mental health, help lower our blood pressure, get us more active, minimize feelings of isolation and loneliness, and so much more.
All too often, though, loving pet families face obstacles to keeping the animals who mean so much to them—including rising costs and inflation, housing insecurity, illness or other personal crises that prevent them from caring for their pets. That’s why the role of the animal shelter is continuing to evolve to not only shelter homeless pets but also support families so animals can stay with the people who love them.
Jessica is one of the pet owners who contacted San Diego Humane Society (SDHS) this year during a time of crisis. The only thing more devastating to Jessica than losing her housing was the thought of giving up Ash and Itzy, her two most treasured companions. Without a place to live, she thought she would have no choice but to surrender her cats—a heartbreaking prospect.
Thankfully, SDHS was able to enroll her beloved pets in its Safety Net Foster Program while Jessica worked to get back on her feet. After spending three months with temporary foster families, Ash and Itzy were reunited with their guardian and ready for a fresh start in their family’s new home.
Although Jessica’s story had a happy ending, many other community members have found themselves in similar situations with nowhere to turn, and these pet owners often feel as though the only option is to relinquish their animal to a shelter. SDHS is working to change that.
Animals are happiest in homes, and one of the best ways to prevent overcrowding in shelters is to provide resources to pet families who need them. SDHS offers a variety of services to support pets and the people who love them, from help with pet food and supplies, temporary fostering during times of crisis, and access to affordable veterinary care.
They offer a Community Pet Pantry that allows pet guardians to pick up food, cat litter, flea medication, and other essential supplies free of charge.
Through their Community Veterinary Program, they are committed to making veterinary care more affordable and accessible to pet families in need. The program hosts an on-site clinic at their San Diego Campus, as well as mobile clinics that take veterinary services into the neighborhoods that need them most. To keep pets healthy and safe, they also offer low-cost vaccine and microchip clinics at their shelter campuses and spay/neuter assistance.
And because behavioral challenges are among the most common reasons they see animals surrendered to their shelters, SDHS offers the community a wide range of behavior and training resources. In addition to a free Behavior Helpline, they offer dozens of affordable live and on-demand training classes, and a resource library filled with videos and articles that can be accessed by anyone, anytime at sdhumane.org/behavior.
While SDHS will do everything it can to keep pet families together, they also recognize that surrendering an animal is sometimes the only option. And in those cases, the organization is there to shelter and care for pets until those animals are given the opportunity to enrich new families’ lives.
In addition to honoring the way pets improve our lives by protecting the human animal bond, San Diego Humane Society also believes that creating a more humane world means extending compassion to both ends of the leash. Through their services to support families in times of need, they are doing just that. Visit sdhumane.org/services to learn more.