Shelter Awareness

The following letter was sent to me from one of my patients that is an animal shelter volunteer.  This is a very informative and compassionate letter.  ~ Dr. Ken Gilden

Something everyone should know!

As a volunteer at the San Diego Central Animal Shelter, I see so many beautiful animals that deserve a chance at happiness and life. Too many of them are getting less, as people continue to purchase their pets from stores and breeders.  I have learned the hard way not to ask about a favorite dog I have enjoyed walking if I don’t see them in their kennel.

Awareness, education, and compassion is the key

As I look around at people’s pet choices, I see that there is still a lot of work to do to spread the word for shelter pets.  With more public education and awareness, a commitment to adoption, and making responsible and kind choices when it comes to pet ownership, along with spaying and neutering, there really could be far less animal suffering than there is today!

Things to know about Shelter pets

Before I began volunteering at the San Diego Animal Shelter in 2009, I had very little idea of some of the things that I’ll be sharing with you. First of all, it is a misconception that many shelter pets are not attractive, or well- adjusted, and that it isn’t possible to find pure bred pets. As a volunteer, I see first-hand that most of the cats and dogs at the shelter are healthy, loving, well behaved, and beautiful pets. I’ve discovered that some of the real gems are the pets that don’t stand out in the crowd initially. And it is generally possible to find a specific breed or a pure bred pet if you are willing to take your time. New pets arrive regularly. Puppies and kittens are available at shelters too. Since a pet is a forever family member, taking your time to think it through and learn about the qualities the dog or cat you’re considering is wise. Some of the adoptable pets can be viewed online.

Other pet adoption sources

If you don’t find the pet you are looking for at the three San Diego County Shelters, there is an online pet search source at; many smaller- city specific  shelters, a San Diego and Escondido Humane Society, and the Helen Woodward Animal Center. Some Petco stores have cats and dogs available for adoption, and there are some specific breed rescue groups. So many options!

More quality control and reassurance for you

Another important fact that most people don’t know; every cat and dog in the shelter has gone through an observation period so we can get to know their personality better and take note of anything that needs to be addressed. Some of our dogs attend obedience training. The volunteers that interact directly with the animals answer specific questions on an intake form and add other behavioral patterns they have noticed. These notes are available to the public. There are interaction areas in the shelter if you would like to look more closely at a particular animal to see how your “chemistry” is. You are also welcome to bring your animals from home to see how they respond to a pet you are interested in. The 30 day grace period that every adoption allows will give your home companions a chance to make sure all is copasetic with the new family member. The shelter highly encourages all two-legged family members to come in to meet the dog or cat of interest. There are medical forms available at all times in case the volunteers have noticed anything that may have gone unnoticed that needs to be addressed medically. There are a variety of informative pet training flyers available at the front desk. Most pets want to please, and will work with you after they have had some time to settle in with their new family!

What is included in the adoption fee

When a pet is adopted from the shelter, the fee includes a year license, spaying or neutering, all shots, and a micro- chip for identification.

Adoption fees

The adoption fee for dogs of all ages is $69.00, all cats are $58.00. Senior and disabled adopters’ price for all dogs and cats is $35.00. Dogs and cats five years and older are $35.00, and no charge to senior citizens. Sometimes there are half price discounts on animals that have been at the shelter for more than 30 days.

Sensitivity and resiliency

As animals are sensitive beings; they do respond to the stress and loneliness of shelter living. This is likely to be the only side the public sees of them. This said, they have an amazing ability to rediscover their true nature of loving, playful, nurturing companions, with a little love and attention. I experience this regularly as a volunteer!

Other animals available at the shelter

Felines and canines are not the only residents at the shelter; there are rabbits there also. Sometimes there are guinea pigs, hamsters, rats, and a variety of birds like parakeets, cockatiels, pigeons, and occasionally parrots, parrotlets, conure’s and cockatoo’s. Local bird rescue groups have more of these exotic birds to choose from. I have even seen chinchillas, iguanas, snakes and tortoises!

Inspired to care

I am inspired to be a voice for these wonderful animals. They are so worth it! With more education, a commitment to spaying and neutering and making kind choices, we can all help end the cycle of cruelty to animals!  It is very clear when one remembers that for every pet purchased from a breeder or pet shop; this takes the chance away from a shelter pet to have happiness and life. With all the problems in the world, it is nice to know of one that has a simple solution: adoption!

The web page to all San Diego County Shelters is The phone number is (619)767- 2675.

If you would like to learn more about becoming a shelter volunteer, check the website for upcoming orientation meetings.

The Spirit Fund was created by the shelter as a way to offer extra medical attention to pets in need. Public donations are a way to help the Spirit Fund.

This email is a volunteer public service by C.J. with no affiliation with any organization, agency, company or club.



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