Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why is it called a “Campus?”
The San Diego Campus for Animal Care comprises two facilities: the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA and the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services.
The state-of-the-art Campus is an aesthetically-pleasing destination dedicated to building strong bonds between people and animals. Central to that goal is our role in educating the public about how to treat and responsibly care for animal companions. It is this focus on education that led us to use the word “Campus.”
2. How large is the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA?
The San Diego Humane Society and SPCA’s facility is 44,000 square feet, nearly three times the size of our previous facility at 887 Sherman Street. The organization employs approximately 120 staff and more than 500 volunteers that help run the organization.
3. How many animals can the Humane Society house?
Our buildings house approximately 300 animals. The Adoption Gallery holds roughly 100 animals available for adoption at any given time. There are 24 dog habitats, 16 cat habitats and approximately 30 small animal housing units. Most dogs are housed individually, while some cats and small animals may be housed together.
4. How many animals are housed on the entire Campus?
The entire Campus, including both the Department of Animal Services and the San Diego Humane Society, houses more than 600 animals.
5. What is the difference between the San Diego Humane Society and the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services?
The foundation of the San Diego Campus for Animal Care lies in a vital public-private partnership between the private, nonprofit San Diego Humane Society and SPCA and the publicly funded County of San Diego Department of Animal Services.
Together, the two agencies work cooperatively to save the life of every adoptable animal in San Diego County. Both organizations remain independent and continue to serve their own roles in the community and benefit thousands of animals and people in San Diego County.
One major difference between the two agencies is that the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services (DAS) is required by law to take in stray animals found in San Diego County, in areas where they hold an animal control contract, while the San Diego Humane Society only takes in owner relinquished animals and animals coming in through the transfer or foster programs. Also, while both the San Diego Humane Society and DAS investigate cases of animal cruelty, DAS regulates “dangerous dog” status and enforces licensing and leash laws. Additionally, the San Diego Humane Society houses a comprehensive veterinary center that serves the spay and neuter surgical needs for the majority of the animals on the entire Campus (the Department of Animal Services contracts with the San Diego Humane Society for their Central shelter’s surgical needs) as well as all standard surgical needs for animals at the San Diego Humane Society, including some specialty procedures such as orthopedics.
6. Why are the animals housed in apartment-like habitats versus standard kennels that might accommodate more animals?
Housing animals in the “home-like” settings featured at the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA benefits animals in a number of important ways.
The sights and sounds of a traditional kennel setting can be quite stressful on the animals, so the habitats in our building were designed as more of a domestic setting to help reduce that stress.
Just as important, the aesthetically-pleasing environment of our building was designed to be as “people-friendly” as it is “animal-friendly” to overcome negative perceptions of shelters as a place to get a pet. To increase adoptions and gain public participation in training and educational programs, our building was designed to serve as a welcoming and friendly destination for people.
The habitats also serve two more important purposes. By placing animals in more “home-like” situations, we can observe any potential behavior issues and intervene before they become a problem. If a dog starts to chew the furniture or a cat misses the litter box, our Behavior Trainers can find a positive training solution to ensure that these issues don’t become a problem in the pet’s new home. Also, with the unique design of the habitats, the San Diego Humane Society provides a model for the community on how to house and care for companion animals. We believe companion animals should live inside with their families and be incorporated into day-to-day life. Our facility allows us the opportunity to model this ideal for our visitors.
7. Why put so many resources into animal welfare?
With so many great causes that need financial support and attention today, this is a question we value and welcome. The answer lies in the roles animals play in our lives and the lessons we learn through our treatment of animals.
The link between people who harm animals and people who commit violent acts against people is well documented, and history is full of high-profile examples. You don’t have to be an animal lover to be concerned about the treatment of animals.
Quite simply, the San Diego Humane Society not only benefits animals but also benefits people and our community as a whole by fostering stronger bonds between people and animals and increasing educational opportunities for generations to come.
Gandhi is often quoted as saying “the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
George T. Angell, humanitarian and founder of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, once said “I'm sometimes asked: ‘Why do you spend so much of your time and money talking about kindness to animals when there is so much cruelty to men?’ I answer: ‘I am working at the roots.’ ”
Both of these quotes can be found on the walls of the San Diego Humane Society to help illustrate the point that the way we treat animals is central to the integrity of our community and directly correlates to the way we humans treat each other.
8. What happened to the former San Diego Humane Society property at Sherman Street? The San Diego Humane Society and SPCA is in a very fortunate position. We own the property at 887 Sherman Street, and currently it has three primary uses.
We are able to transfer animals to Sherman Street from other animal welfare facilities that may lack space or resources, giving an additional 1,300 animals annually a chance to find new, loving homes as part of our commitment to saving the life of every adoptable animal.
Our Foster Care and Mobile Adoptions programs also operate out of our Sherman Street facility, allowing us to use the much-needed space at our Gaines Street facility in order to better serve our community.
The Sherman Street property is a closed facility, meaning that it is not open to the public. All adoption services, classes, events and public programs and services take place at the main Gaines Street facility.
9. I relinquished an animal to the San Diego Humane Society yesterday. Why isn’t that animal available for adoption yet?
Once an animal is relinquished to the San Diego Humane Society, it undergoes a thorough medical examination and behavior assessment process that can take several days. Animals are spayed or neutered, vaccinated, micro-chipped, examined and treated for any medical conditions; this may entail dental procedures, x-rays, blood tests, and even surgery for certain conditions.
After a dog or cat is medically sound and has recovered from any special treatments, it goes through a behavior assessment process to evaluate its personality and to determine the best home environment for that pet. Members of our animal care staff are trained to perform behavioral assessments, which involves both handling animals and recording observations. The individuals who handle these evaluations are trained professionals who have undergone nearly 200 hours of training to be able to implement this evaluation properly and read the subtle nuances of pets’ body language.
Since moving from a home to a shelter environment can be a stressful experience for any pet, each pet is allowed a few days to acclimate to its new environment before being behaviorally assessed. This ensures that our animal care staff is able to see more of the pet’s “true” nature. While the San Diego Humane Society seeks to find homes for as many adoptable pets as possible, we know that rushing the process is not in the best interest of the pet.
10. Do you accept any type of animal?
The San Diego Humane Society accepts only companion animals that are kept as pets. This may include cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, reptiles, or birds. We may take in livestock when necessary as part of our Humane Investigations activities. We do not accept wildlife and by law cannot accept stray animals.
11. Do you have exotic animals/horses/etc for adoption?
We do sometimes have unusual pets, such as bearded dragons, chinchillas or horse available for adoption, but we cannot guarantee that these pets will be available every day. The pets that are available for adoption change from day to day, so please call the San Diego Humane Society or visit the “Available Pets” section of our website for more information.
12. How long before the pets in your care are euthanized?
The San Diego Humane Society does not use length of stay at the shelter as a criterion for euthanasia. Once an animal becomes available for adoption, it will remain available for as long as is necessary to find a new home. Euthanasia is only performed when medically or behaviorally necessary. For more information, download our complete Euthanasia Policy.
13. Why do so many of your dogs have age restrictions?
Age restrictions are assigned to certain dogs to help protect the safety of both the dog and the family that may adopt it. Dogs do not communicate in the same ways as humans do—they communicate through very subtle body language. While an adult may realize that a dog’s rigid posture may mean “I don’t want to share my toy with you,” a young child may not understand this cue. Similarly, a dog with a high energy level could inadvertently knock over a young child during play. Our Animal Care and Behavior & Training staff have closely examined the personalities of every dog, and any age restrictions assigned to a dog are meant as a guideline to help adopters determine which pet will best match the needs of their household.
14. Where are the available pets?
The pets available for adoption can be viewed in the Humane Society’s adoption galleries, which are accessible from the Humane Society’s main lobby. The galleries along the north side of the lobby contain mostly dogs as well as some cats and kittens, while the galleries lining the south side contain adult cats. Small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters can be found in the lobby’s northeast end.
The San Diego Humane Society often has several “Hidden Gem” pets that are available for adoption but are not in public view. Please click on the “Hidden Gems” icon on the “Available Pets” page of our website for more information about adopting these special pets.
Also, we bring pets into the community through our Mobile Adoptions program. To find out when we are in a neighborhood near you view our Mobile Adoptions Calendar.
15. Where do I go to get my dog licensed/rabies/vaccines?
For residents of Oceanside and Vista, dog licenses and vaccinations can be obtained through our North Campus location. For more information, please view our Pet Services page.
For residents of other cities, dog licenses can be obtained by contacting the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services at (619) 236-4250. More information about obtaining a license can be found at the Department of Animal Services website. Rabies and other vaccines can be obtained at your local veterinarian’s office or at special clinics. The Department of Animal Services also sponsors “One-Stop Licensing Program,” where vaccinations can be obtained on the spot.
16. How do I become a volunteer?
The San Diego Humane Society has a variety of volunteer opportunities, ranging from dog walking to foster parenting to assisting with special events and fundraisers. For more information about volunteer opportunities and to apply for our Volunteer Program, visit the “Volunteer” section of our website.
17. What is the adoption process?
When an individual or family comes to the San Diego Humane Society to adopt a pet, they must first fill out an adoption questionnaire. This will help our Adoptions team to match the adopter with the right pet from them. If the adopter is interested in meeting a specific pet they have seen in the Adoption Gallery or online, they will meet with an adoption counselor to discuss their needs as well as the needs of the pet they are interested in.
If the pet they are interested in has any medical or behavioral conditions that the adopter should be aware of, the Adoption Counselor will discuss these issues and will set up a consultation with a member of our Veterinary Medicine or our Behavior & Training staff to further discuss any concerns the adopter may have.
If an individual is interested in adopting a pet, all members of the household must meet with the pet prior to completing the adoption; this includes canine members of the family, too! It’s important to make sure that your current dogs will feel comfortable with the new member of the family.
18. Why are your adoption fees higher than other shelters in the area? What do your fees include?
While our adoption fees may be higher than other San Diego County shelters, many resources go in to each adoption at the San Diego Humane Society.
Every animal that is adopted from the San Diego Humane Society has been both medically and behaviorally assessed by our specialists. If a treatable medical condition was discovered, the pet may have received a variety of medical treatments and procedures to help make it healthy and ready for adoption. Our Behavior & Training staff also work with our dogs on a daily basis to help address any behavioral issues the pet may have.
When you adopt an animal from the San Diego Humane Society, the adoption fee includes the medical exam and behavior assessment, all up-to-date vaccines, the pet’s spay or neuter, permanent microchip identifcation, a free veterinary exam, and even free admission to one of our “How to Live Happily Ever After with Your Cat /Dog” workshops!
19. Where do your animals come from?
Many of the animals at the San Diego Humane Society are brought in by their owners, but some come to us from different shelters throughout the country through our transfer program. The San Diego Humane Society regularly visits shelters both in and outside of San Diego County to help ease the overcrowded conditions that many of these shelters face, helping to ensure that no healthy animal in San Diego will have to be euthanized due to space.
The San Diego Humane Society has even gone as far as Mississippi to help local shelters in the Gulf Coast area that continue to have high homeless pet populations as they rebuild from Hurricane Katrina and Rita.
20. If I relinquish a pet, why won’t you guarantee my animal will stay at SDHS?
Housing resources permitting, owned cats, dogs, and other small animals relinquished by their owners are admitted by the San Diego Humane Society and scanned for microchip identification. As part of our Joint Intake Policy, the San Diego Humane Society may work jointly with the Department of Animal Services in the disposition of these animals. The pet may be admitted to either the San Diego Humane Society or the Department of Animal Service’s Central shelter adoption program depending on available animal housing resources.
Also, the San Diego Humane Society is one of eight county shelters that make up the San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition. The Coalition was formed to provide a safety net for the county’s shelters; when one shelter does not feel they have the resources to care for a certain animal at that time, they can transfer the animal to another coalition shelter that may be better prepared to meet the animal’s needs.
Review our Joint Intake Policy for definitions of pet dispositions
21. Is there a waiting list for a particular breed?
At this time, there is no official waiting list for certain breeds. However, the variety of dogs that we have available for adoption changes daily and often includes a variety of purebred dogs. We recommend checking our "Available Pets" page regularly to see what breeds are available each day.
22. Where can I see statistical data for the San Diego Humane Society?
Statistical data for both the San Diego Humane Society and the San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition is available on the “About Us” section of our website. We also publish a complete Annual Report every winter, which can be viewed online, or a hard copy can be requested at Customer Service.
23. Can I fill out adoption paperwork online?
Yes! You can find our Adoption Questionnaire online at the “Adoptions” section of our website. Filling out this questionnaire online will expedite the adoption process once your arrive at the shelter.
24. What is the difference between a Humane Society and a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA)?
While the terms themselves are sometimes used interchangeably, “SPCA” usually designates an organization that is actively involved in prevention of cruelty to animals such as through education and/or cruelty investigations. A “Humane Society “generally refers to an organization that engages in on-site sheltering of animals. Because the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA’s mission, programs, and services include animal cruelty investigations, sheltering, adoptions, education and more, both terms describe our organization.
25. How are you affiliated with Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)?
The San Diego Humane Society and SPCA is an independent 501(c)(3) organization and is not affiliated with any other local, state or national organization such as the Humane Society of the United States in Washington or the ASPCA in New York. Because there are so many humane organizations with similar names, it is not uncommon for supporters of one humane society to mistake it with other humane societies and SPCAs. The San Diego Humane Society and SPCA is dependent solely on financial support from our community and donors.
26. What is Project KEPPT?
Project KEPPT is a program offered through our North Campus which provides education, services, and resources to assist pet owners that are facing personal or financial hardship. To learn more and download program information and application PDFs, click here.