Santa Clara County Animal Shelter
A cacophony of sounds greets visitors to the Santa Clara County animal shelter in San Martin. Whether it’s the eager barking of dogs, the tiny mewling of new kittens, or a child squealing with glee as he meets a new pet, the County shelter buzzes with life.
That’s by design — the shelter, which serves all of the unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County, is an open-intake facility with a no-kill philosophy. That means staff works with an extended network of volunteers and rescue groups to find a home for every animal possible.
Finding a forever home
Of course, the goal is always to find every animal a good home. During kitten season, for example, which lasts roughly from spring to fall, an extensive volunteer network gets to work, recruiting foster families and spending days cuddling and socializing kittens at the shelter.
“Our volunteers really run the show here during kitten season,” said Lisa Jenkins, Interim Program Manager for Animal Care and Control. Volunteers spend hours with these cats and kittens and can point out which one is playful, which one is cuddly, which one might not be great with kids.
During a walk through the dog run, Jenkins mentions the new shelter that is in the works. “We want to create a more inviting space, particularly for our dogs,” she said. Tails wag as she walks past.
Besides a number of dogs waiting for their forever home, there are also dogs that pass through for other reasons. Jenkins points to a small dog curled up on a blanket: “Here’s one we’re keeping while her owner is in the hospital.”
Cats and dogs
It might come as a surprise to learn that the shelter houses more than just dogs and cats. After the recent Loma Prieta fire, for instance, a couple of ostriches called the shelter home for a few days after shelter staff managed to wrangle them onto stock trailers and bring them to the shelter for safety. “That was a hard day at work!” Jenkins recalls with a laugh. There are also horse stalls for equine guests and facilities for goats, ducks, and other animals the shelter has hosted on occasion.
“We couldn’t accomplish what we do without our great staff,” said Jenkins. “Everyone here loves animals and is really committed to what they do. And they do everything — even fostering!”
Aside from the administrative team, the shelter also has veterinarians and veterinarians’ assistants working in the full-service on-site veterinary clinic, performing spay and neuter operations as well as other critical care.
Resting in the clinic today is a typical assortment of clients — a passel of fuzzy kittens awaiting their spay/neuter operations, a sleepy dog just recovering from his. In a corner slept another dog, a small white one with big brown eyes who was brought to the shelter after being hit by a car; his leg had to be removed. (Jenkins was reassuring: “Dogs actually get along quite well without a limb,” she said.)
Animal control officers are also a key part of the team. “They do great work in the community,” according to Jenkins, and are eager to reunite lost pets with their owners. If an animal is chipped, there is often no need to bring it to the shelter, since the officers have chip scanners in their vehicle. Officers are also active in investigating humane complaints. “We’re an animal-loving community,” said Jenkins. “We work very closely with the District Attorney’s office when we see instances of neglect or cruelty.”
If You’re Interested
If you are interested, there are a number of ways to support the important work done by the County’s Animal shelter.
1. DONATE: You can donate in two ways. The shelter’s Medical Fund supports quality of life enhancements at the shelter, such as toys and play structures as well as providing an expanded ability to care for medical issues. The Spay/Neuter fund supports the shelter’s efforts to provide low-cost spay/neuter services to the public.
Donations can be made in person, by mail or online through our website: https://www.sccgov.org/sites/acc/Pages/Donate-Online!.aspx Note: No money from either of these funds goes to staff salaries or overhead costs.
2. VOLUNTEER: There are a number of volunteer opportunities for those 18 years and older. Call or email us to find out more!
3. ADOPT: The single greatest way you can support our no-kill shelter is to provide a forever home for one of our animals. We are open seven days a week, Monday-Friday, 12-6; Saturday and Sunday, 12-5. The shelter is located at 12370 Murphy Avenue, San Martin, CA 95046. Call (408) 686-3900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.