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Animal Rights Org Spotlight: SFSPCA


The San Francisco SPCA was founded in 1868 after banker James Sloan Hutchinson rescued a pig who was being mistreated. Since then, the organization has been at the forefront of animal welfare for more than 150 years. Not only is it the fourth oldest humane society in the U.S., but it also started the No-Kill movement and became the first cageless animal shelter in the country. The SF SPCA is currently the largest shelter in the Bay Area, working to provide care and protection for animals in need.

We'd like to shine a spotlight on this "furbulous" organization and all the wonderful work they do for pets. Let's take a look at how the SF SPCA helps our precious animal pals. 

Programs and services

The SF SPCA runs a number of programs to carry out its mission of saving and protecting animals. These include: 


The Mission Campus Adoption Center houses several dogs and cats waiting for their forever homes. In addition to being spayed/neutered, microchipped, and vaccinated, every animal goes through medical and behavioral screenings and is nurtured during their stay at the shelter.

Veterinary care

The SF SPCA works through several animal hospitals and centers, including the Mission Veterinary Hospital, a state-of-the-art facility that offers a wide range of services from check-ups to surgery. It is also a certified Cat Friendly Practice, with designated waiting areas just for feline patients and ‚Äúcat advocates‚ÄĚ who are constantly looking at ways to improve the experience for cats. Hospital fees go directly toward helping animals in need.

Spay and neuter

The Spay/Neuter Clinic offers competitively priced spay/neuter services, as well as free and discounted surgeries for low-income residents and free spay/neuter for community cats in San Francisco. Spay/neuter fees go toward the spaying and neutering of homeless animals. 

Behavior consultations

The Behavior Specialty Clinic is the largest behavior resource center in the Bay Area. Here, pet parents work with a board-certified veterinary behaviorist to address their companion animal’s behavior problems. Each treatment plan is personalized and only uses techniques that are humane, effective, and backed by scientific research.

Animal Assisted Therapy

Established in 1981, Animal Assisted Therapy shares the love of companion animals with people facing mental, physical, or educational challenges. In the General Program, volunteers and their animals visit hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities to provide healing and motivation. In the Puppy Dog Tales Reading Program, therapy dogs provide a non-judgmental space by ‚Äúlistening‚ÄĚ to children who have reading challenges. The Wag Brigade, which can be seen at the San Francisco International Airport almost every day, provides stress relief for travelers.

SF SPCA Events

The SF SPCA also hosts several events throughout the year to help animals. Recently concluded events include:

Spring Breakout Adoption Special

Adoption fees were reduced for all adult dogs, and potential pet parents could get 50% off the puppy adoption fee if they successfully completed an orientation and quiz.

Fear Free Pet Behavior Symposium

The Fear Free Pet Behavior Symposium was a live virtual event that covered topics such as separation anxiety and the emotional health of companion animals. Though the live event was held in February, on-demand access to the recordings was available through May. 

‚Äč‚Äč50 Mile Walk/Run to Save Animals

By walking or running 50 miles during the month of March, participants not only got their daily steps in, but also helped animals in need. 

Vision 2030

In 2019, the SF SPCA announced its Vision 2030, an ambitious project to help improve the quality of life for 5 million cats and dogs, both in homes and shelters, over the next 10 years. This will be accomplished by making humane veterinary care accessible for all through its network of veterinary hospitals and professionals by offering reduced-cost preventative care, and field clinics for communities in need.

The SF SPCA will also be partnering with shelters and rescues throughout California to ensure they have all the tools they need to practice humane care and be able to keep their shelter pets local, while building alliances throughout the state to help transfer animals when needed.

And lastly, the SF SPCA is actively supporting legislative changes that protect companion animals. Started with the idea that a small group of people could vastly and positively impact the lives of animals, this shelter has proven that they can. With the founding of Shelter PALS, a legal organization dedicated to helping shelter animals, and with the support of so many like-minded people from adopters to advocates, the SF SPCA is lighting the way for humane care for companion animals.

Two human volunteers helping two Pugs

The SF SPCA and Wag!

Speaking of animal advocates, Wag!‚Äôs CEO Garrett Smallwood recently¬†joined the SF SPCA Board of Directors and is thrilled to be ‚Äúpawtnering‚ÄĚ with one of San Francisco‚Äôs most enduring and respected nonprofit organizations. By supporting Vision 2030, Smallwood and many others are helping so many animals in need, in California and beyond!

Visit the SF SPCA website to stay updated on upcoming events, or to find your new forever friend!

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