Helping Pets and People
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, life-saving work has been at the forefront of those jobs deemed essential as is the case with the work being done at Helen Woodward Animal Center. The private non-profit organization in Rancho Santa Fe has 13 unique programs all dedicated to the mission of “people helping animals and animals helping people.”
When COVID-19 forced many businesses and service to suspend operations, Helen Woodward Animal Center also took a hit, shutting down its Club Pet Boarding Facility, kids’ animal camps and Orphaned Objects Resale Shop. These Center services directly fund the life-saving rescue of orphan pets all over the country. Despite that immense financial hit, Helen Woodward Animal Center’s work to transfer in orphan pets from overburdened shelters did not stop. In fact, due to restrictions and closures at shelters and rescues in hard-hit areas around the country, Helen Woodward Animal Center became a safe-haven and often the only option for pets in need.

Since mid-March, the Center has transferred in close to 1,200 orphan pets from places like rural Louisiana, Texas, California’s Central Valley and Colorado. These orphan pets range from adult dogs and cats, pregnant moms or those with newborns and even pets with extensive medical needs like a kitten who arrived from a rescue in the Los Angeles area named Arrow.
At just a few weeks old, Arrow arrived with both his hind legs badly broken. His best chance at a happy and healthy life would be in the care of Helen Woodward Animal Center. For just over five weeks, Arrow wore full-length casts and rested at a loving foster home going in regularly for x-rays and medical checks up. Thanks to the work of the medical team at the Center, Arrow has now begun his search for a forever home.
The need for urgent pet transfers during the pandemic skyrocketed. In fact, in just four months, Helen Woodward Animal Center organized more cross-country pet transfer missions than it usually does throughout the entire year. Many of these orphan pets’ lives were at risk had they not arrived in Rancho Santa Fe. “It is incredible to know that we are literally saving lives each and every day,” Dora Dahlke, Adoptions Services Manager shared with GB Magazine. “Our work is essential and that is why we have done everything in our power to safely remain open and continue finding loving homes for so many pets in need.”
In addition to its far-reaching pet rescue efforts, Helen Woodward Animal Center has also expanded its AniMeals program that helps feed the pets of homebound seniors, disabled veterans and homeless individuals. As COVID-19 forced millions into unemployment, the AniMeals Relief program also helped those who had lost their jobs. Since late March, AniMeals Relief, which is ongoing, has distributed more than 42,000 pounds of pet food ensuring more than 6,000 pets throughout the county have the nutrition they need. In partnership with Feeding San Diego, AniMeals Relief distributions have also included meals for more than 12,000 individuals struggling during the pandemic.
From life-saving pet rescues, AniMeals Relief pet and people food distributions and even heartfelt animal therapy visits held virtually or through windows to seniors in need throughout the community, Helen Woodward Animal Center has stayed true to its mission of “people helping animals and animals helping people” throughout this difficult time, thanks to generous community donations.
To support Helen Woodward Animal Center’s programs please visit www.animalcenter.org.