The Short Version: Sometimes at the end of a hard day, you need someone to come home to. That someone doesn’t necessarily have to be human. For me, nothing lights up my day like seeing my dog jump up and down excitedly simply because I walked through the door. The San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SF SPCA) wants everyone to feel the pure joy and fulfillment that comes from pet ownership. This animal shelter has been in operation since 1868 and now fosters nearly 5,000 adoptions while supplying over $4 million in charitable vet care per year. The shelter can also be a fun locale to meet people who share a love for cats or dogs. Volunteers bond together every day as they work to ensure the animals are properly taken care of. Plus, the organization’s adoption events give animal lovers the opportunity to have fun, do some good, and get to know quality people all in one day. When you stop by the SF SPCA, you’ll often find a friend there waiting for you.
Fall always reminds me of new beginnings: ringing in a new school year as trees shed their leaves and the election season clears out Washington’s clutter. This August, I decided to make a fresh start of my own by heading to my local animal shelter. The yips of dogs greeted me the moment I walked in, and soon I was elbow-deep in puppy playpens in search of The One. I found her curled up in a ball in her crate, sound asleep despite the excited barks and animated chatter around her.
I knelt down, and she opened her deep brown eyes. Her tail thumped once. I’ve got a soft spot for big black dogs, and this sleek Labrador mix seemed just my size. I adopted her on the spot, and we’ve been inseparable ever since.
On the weekends, I’ve started taking her to dog parks to give her some exercise and give me some social interaction with other dog owners in my neighborhood. My new conversation starter is a simple: “Can I pet your dog?”
Animal shelters give people the chance to pick out their own wing-dog (or wing-cat) and join a network of animal lovers. Thousands of volunteers at San Francisco’s SPCA come together at adoption events where furry friends and new connections are there for the taking. People can become acquainted and help a good cause at the same time by helping out at a local animal shelter.
The SF SPCA has a long tradition of uniting people under a mission to save lives. Krista Maloney, their Media Relations Manager, told us with pride the animal shelter was founded in 1868 and now rescues dogs, cats, and other small animals (like bunnies). Decades of passion and hard work have built a strong network of more than 1,400 volunteers who bond through common interests. If you’re looking to meet like-minded folks, the shelter’s events promote socializing with puppies, cocktails, and other entertainment.
“We’re a community-supported nonprofit,” Krista said. “Most of what we do is local, so it’s a great way to get involved right here in San Francisco.”
The Fourth Oldest Humane Society in the U.S. Relies on Volunteers
The SF SPCA remains a longstanding bastion of goodwill and animal care in the U.S. This haven is the fourth oldest humane society operating within the country, and the reason they’ve been in existence so long is the community’s strong support. The nonprofit organization receives backing from locals who care deeply about animal welfare, and, as a result, San Francisco has the lowest euthanasia rate of any major city in the U.S.
“At the shelter, we’re all here for the same mission,” Krista told us. “We’re all here because we love animals.”
Volunteers not only get free puppy and kitty cuddles, but they also get to meet one another in a friendly atmosphere, so it’s a win-win. You can get involved and help the shelter in person in three ways: rescuing animals, volunteering, and attending events.
1. Rescue: Nearly 5,000 Adoptions of Cats & Dogs Per Year
Every year, the shelter pairs up approximately 5,000 cats and dogs with their “furever home.” Along the way, they care for their animals with steadfast dedication. According to Krista, this community-oriented humane society gives out more than $4 million worth in charitable vet care a year.
Plenty of sweet, furry companions wait at the shelter for someone to love them. If you want to make a fast friend, you can’t do much better than man’s best friend. Or, if you’re a cat person, you can find a cuddly buddy by heading to the SF SPCA.
2. Help Out: Over 1,400 Volunteers Bond As They Work Together
When you commit your time to helping animals, you’re opening yourself up to a valuable experience. About 1,400 volunteers have banded together to assist the SF SPCA in their mission to save lives.
Orientation and training sessions show volunteers how they can make a difference in the lives of cats and dogs. People can choose how they want to help, but the best way to meet people is by diving into group activities, like a shelter dog playgroup.
Every week, the SF SPCA hosts Doggie Day Dates, a day of fun for the dogs in their shelter. Volunteers show up, pick a dog, and go out on a walk or to the beach. In these playgroups, you’ll bond with fellow volunteers while giving the dogs some welcome exercise and excitement.
“There are a ton of great opportunities to volunteer in all departments,” Krista said. “Becoming a shelter volunteer, in particular, is a really fun way to give back and meet like-minded people.”
One upcoming event in November is their Holiday Windows Event where the SF SPCA partners with Macy’s to put their dogs and cats front and center in the windows of the store. Volunteers can help, no training or experience necessary, in two-hour shifts to raise awareness for these animals and push for adoptions.
3. Socialize: Annual Events Invite Mingling With Fellow Pet Lovers
A few times a year, the SF SPCA opens their doors to encourage people to visit their shelter and join their cause. The Whiskers and Whiskey event is a particularly popular shindig that’s part adoption venue and part cocktail party. Tattoo artists, bartenders, and makeup professionals make sure attendees enjoy themselves as they mingle in an open space.
The evening is full of laughter, tail wagging, and socializing, and they sometimes host a special love-themed party around Valentine’s Day. Because nothing says “I love you” like getting your boyfriend or girlfriend an adorable new pet to fawn over.
You can check out their event calendar to find out about upcoming adoption specials, celebrations, and other fun chances to make a dog’s day in a social setting.
“Our cocktail parties are a really fun way to go out, celebrate with the community, and connect with people who love animals,” Krista said. “It’s easy because you already have something in common.”
Vision 2020: A Plan to End Animal Abandonment in the City By 2020
For well over a hundred years, San Francisco’s SPCA has been at the forefront of the No-Kill movement and saved countless lives by taking in animals in need. They passionately believe in their mission to protect and treat animals, setting lofty goals for themselves in that effort.
Vision 2020 is a promise to end animal abandonment in San Francisco by the year 2020. The plan intends to address issues like overpopulation, barriers to veterinary services, and pet behavioral problems.
The project takes a three-pronged approach through prevention, rescue, and education to put an end, once and for all, to animals being abandoned by their owners in the city. The SF SPCA’s aggressive advocacy is inspirational for animal lovers across the country.
“Together, we can work through any issue,” Krista said. “Our focus is to keep the animal in the home, however we can, so by 2020 we end animal abandonment, and we’d be the first city in the nation to do so.”
Two Paws Up: Giving Back at SF SPCA is a Great Way to Meet People
If you’re looking for head-over-heels love at first sight, try going to the animal shelter — you may end up falling for a cute puppy, like I did, or you could meet a cute volunteer to take home with you. Either way, you’ll have someone by your side.
The SF SPCA provides so many wonderful opportunities to get involved by saving lives and meeting animal lovers who share your passion for protecting cats and dogs in San Francisco. The friendly atmosphere of the humane society welcomes new people of all backgrounds, and thousands come to them hoping to make a difference. In the process, many of the volunteers form lasting connections with one another.
“One of the upsides to volunteering is, when you meet people, you already have that connection with them on a deeper level,” Krista said, “and bonding through that shared passion can be really meaningful.”