Thanks to a lot of community commitment, hard work, and creative connections, Santa Cruz County is a great place to be a dog—even if things aren't exactly going your way at the moment, your family needs a bit of help to stay together, or you find yourself homeless.
The Santa Cruz SPCA was founded in the late 1930s as a private, independent animal welfare organization, and continues its work to this day, specializing in providing a safety net for dogs and cats from other counties in need of a second chance.
The Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter came into being in 2002 when SPCASC opted to relinquish the County's animal control contract, and now provides dog licensing and open-admission shelter services to local critters—5,000 each year—mostly dogs, cats, and rabbits, but also everything from horses to tarantulas. They offer numerous proactive services to help keep well-loved dogs from ending up in the shelter in the first place, including training, spay-neuter and vaccination services.
Both organizations offer humane education programs that teach lessons of kindness, responsibility, and respect for animals and people alike.
Explains Mandi Hart, Shelter Manager of SPCASC, "Promoting spay and neuter remains a high priority, because overpopulation is still the over-arching reason animals end up in shelters. However, the lack of pet-friendly housing, economic challenges, and the inability to handle training or behavioral issues follow close behind." To address those issues, SPCASC operates a food bank that allows senior and low-income folks to provide their animal pals with quality nutrition, distributing 7,000 pounds of quality food each month, and maintains listings of local pet-friendly housing. Meanwhile, SCCAS's innovative Door to Door program is "taking it to the street and canvassing for those who need help," as Jen Walker of SCCAS puts it, bringing flea meds, vaccinations, housing and other assistance to the communities.
But sometimes, despite everyone's best intentions, dogs need new homes—and often a bit of TLC first. That's what happened with Willa and Thea, elderly dogs who might not have fared well elsewhere, but who are now happy, healthy, and waiting to meet their new families.
Willa and Thea are definitely a package deal. The two 8-year-old poodle-mix girls are sisters who've been together their whole lives and been each other's chief source of security and comfort through hard times. Since landing at SPCASC, they're realizing that humans can be lots of fun, and also the source of treats, which make the girls do the happy dance. They're a bit reserved when they first meet you, but once they know you they'll be seeking you out for snuggles. If you'd like to take this low-key duo home and shower them with love, check here.
Willa and Thea. Photo courtesy Santa Cruz SPCA