PAWS San Diego Name "Retires" to Expand Reach
Since San Diego Humane Society merged with PAWS San Diego in 2014, we’ve been providing the resources, supplies and support necessary to help pet families in need keep their pets. The merger with PAWS was one of the most meaningful events in our 140-year history, and our work to be there for our entire community is now expanding in new and exciting ways.
Keeping pets with their families is now the main mission for San Diego Humane Society. After six years of integrating the work of the PAWS team throughout our organization, it’s time for San Diego Humane Society to fully embrace the PAWS mission to act as a safety net in everything we do. As such, we will be retiring the PAWS name this month.
Now, rather than having one program dedicated to helping people keep their pets, that goal will be reflected in all that we do. Whether it’s a Resource Center staff member answering a call from someone seeking affordable veterinary care, a Humane Officer encountering a person struggling to feed their pets or any of a thousand other interactions we have with our community, every SDHS team member will have the knowledge and tools to provide compassionate care and a range of integrated services. And because guests will be able to access our safety net services at every entry point, it will be even easier for them to receive the help they need.
When the pandemic first hit in March, many families were thrown into economic uncertainty — and their need for help to feed their pets skyrocketed. We quickly built on our existing food distribution model to reach the people who needed us most. We partnered with human services agencies across the county — from San Diego Unified School District to the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank — to provide pet food distribution.
We also learned that we can serve more pet families than ever through these partnerships — and that most of our clients who had been receiving in-home delivery of pet food could still access this service. Because our goal is to use our limited resources in ways that allow us to make the biggest impact possible, we will not be returning to the in-home delivery service that we provided prior to the pandemic. Instead, we will focus our efforts on building new partnerships that can best meet the needs of more pet families throughout San Diego County.
Additionally, we know that increasing access to veterinary care for low-income families is essential to keeping more pets with their families. This has been, and will increasingly be, a priority for us. This is why Geraldine D’Silva will be transitioning from her role as director of PAWS San Diego to become the director of Human Animal Support Services. In this new role, Geraldine will use her extensive expertise to develop a framework for providing community-based veterinary services. The launch of these services will not be immediate — building this program will take time, planning and resources. But implementing this work is a strategic priority for San Diego Humane Society, and we’re excited for Geraldine’s leadership to help build the foundation and launch this effort.
As soon as COVID-19 safety guidelines allow, we will be engaging our neighbors in underserved communities to learn more about what they need to care for their pets. This will allow us to understand more about the unique needs various communities have throughout San Diego County — and it will give us the opportunity to build stronger, more effective support services.
We hope you will join us in recognizing this as an expansion and celebration of all that PAWS has brought to San Diego Humane Society. This work has never been more important or more firmly ingrained in all we do to be there for animals and the people who love them. We’re all in this together, and we couldn’t ask for a more supportive community in helping us create a more humane tomorrow for every pet family in San Diego.
Gary Weitzman, DVM, MPH, CAWA
President and CEO, San Diego Humane Society
Published: July 20, 2020