Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Summer forecast: staying at zero

Dr. Gary Weitzman

Special to the Village News

At San Diego Humane Society, a seasonal spike in stray animal intake gives new meaning to the term "dog days of summer." Due to pets spooked by July Fourth fireworks, summer is one of San Diego Humane Society's busiest times of year. Shelter capacity is stretched as we work to reunite pets with their families – and find new homes for the many who aren't reclaimed. All while caring for the animals who continue to come through our doors every single day.

This year, San Diego Humane Society's shelters have been over capacity since long before summer, reaching record numbers of animals in care. That means we entered our busiest season with even less space than usual. Although we have more animals who need us this year, we'll continue to be there for them. No matter how busy we get, we'll always uphold our commitment to Stay at Zero euthanasia of healthy or treatable shelter animals. It's a commitment that San Diego County reached in 2015, and we'll never waver from it.

That promise makes all the difference to animals like King, who was abandoned in a wire kennel without care for three weeks. He was emaciated by the time our Humane Officers reached him and brought him to our Pilar & Chuck Bahde Center for Shelter Medicine, our state-of-the-art veterinary hospital. We helped King heal for weeks before finding him a loving home – and despite all he'd been through, he never stopped wagging.

Or Satsuki, a cat who was found after a good Samaritan witnessed her being dumped out of a car. When she arrived at our San Diego Campus, she was extremely fearful and struggled with overstimulation. This kitty was transferred to our Behavior Center, where our trainers developed an individual plan to help her overcome her fear, anxiety and stress. This center is one of just a few facilities of its kind in the country, and it's responsible for hundreds of saved lives each year.

But with this year's summer crunch bringing more animals like King and Satsuki through our doors than ever before, it's not just our on-site facilities that are making the lifesaving difference. With shelter space at a premium, the work of our foster volunteers is absolutely critical. By temporarily opening their homes to pets in need this summer, foster volunteers also create essential space for other homeless pets with nowhere else to turn.

We're also doing more to help our community ensure animals don't have to enter shelters in the first place: we offer free behavior and training resources, access to affordable veterinary care, free pet food and supplies to families in need, as well as rehoming resources to let community members find a new home for their pets themselves.

And to support those whose animals have gone missing – like over the July Fourth holiday – we launched our Lost2Found texting program. By texting LOST to 858-SAN-LOST, community members will receive automated texts with valuable tips and resources to help them in their search.

This summer will be an exceptionally busy one for San Diego Humane Society, but thanks to the support of our community, our nationally leading programs and services, and innovative efforts to keep more pets out of shelters, we'll Stay at Zero this season and well into the future. To learn more about us, visit sdhumane.org.

Dr. Gary Weitzman, DVM, MPH, CAWA, is an author, veterinarian and passionate animal welfare advocate. He has served as president & CEO of San Diego Humane Society since 2012.

 

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