Weekly Program: Rene Resko, Helen Woodward Animal Center

helenwoodwardToday we were visited by Renee Resko, Vice President of Development at the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe. Many will remember when Mike Arms, President and CEO of the Center, spoke to us several years ago. Renee spoke to us about the many programs run by the Center.

Last year the Center was instrumental in 3100 placements, the majority of which were from the 40 facilities that partner with Helen Woodward. The Center runs a small animal hospital and new comers with medical conditions are treated before being put up for adoption. A new feature of this care is laser therapy which significantly shortens recovery time. The Center has over 100 foster care volunteers who help with animal recovery. A special program is the therapeutic riding program for severely handicapped children which significantly improves confidence and motor skills. There are roughly 50 clients and from 7 to 10 horses in the program at any one time. The pet therapy program sends animals, principally dogs, to a variety of facilities such as skilled nursing homes, children’s shelters, hospitals, psychiatric facilities, etc.

The “Animeals” program partners with Meals on Wheels to deliver pet food along with the adult meals to clients who, in many cases, deprive themselves to feed their pets. The “Humane Education Program”, for kids 4 -14 and with 10,000 annual participants, teaches proper animal interaction and care. Since 1999, each year the Center has run a national “Home for the Holidays” adoption program in conjunction with Blue Buffalo pet food from October through December From humble beginnings the program now involves over 3500 shelter and rescue facilities in over 20 countries and has achieved over 10 million adoptions to date. Finally, the Center last year started the global adoption awareness program, “Remember Me Thursday”, remembering the millions of pets who lost their lives the past year without the benefit of a loving home and last year animal lovers from 138 countries supported the movement.

To conclude, Renee showed a short video of dogs and cats awaiting adoption which tugged at heart strings. The Center is privately funded through fund raising and fee for service and with an $8,000,000 annual budget. I strongly recommend a visit to Helen Woodward but I warn you, you may well go home with a pet. Marcia is contemplating scheduling a Tuesday meeting at the Center.

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