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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal Protection & Welfare, Animals

Mission: SMVHS is dedicated to providing shelter, care, and clinic services to homeless dogs and cats while locating permanent homes for them, and educating the public on animal welfare, pet overpopulation, and the responsibilities of pet ownership. Clinic services are primarily low cost spay/neuter surgeries for pets of pet owners in the community to assist in controlling the pet population in northern Santa Barbara County.

Target demographics: find homes for the animals in our shelter and provide low cost spay/neuter and vaccine services to the community.

Direct beneficiaries per year: Over 2,700 pets in the community

Geographic areas served: The Santa Maria community

Programs: The Santa Maria Valley Humane Society is a no-kill adoption center provides shelter, care, microchipping, adoption and veterinarian services to homeless companion animals, as well as humane education to area residents to promote animal welfare and reduce pet overpopulation. In fy 2014-15, the center housed 648 animals (129 cats, 81 kittens, 404 dogs and 34 puppies), and 607 animals were adopted (compared with 436 animals in fy 2013-14, a 39% increase in adoptions) with an average live release rate of 99. 0%. The average length of stay for all animals was 29. 2 days. The SMVHS low-cost spay/neuter clinic provides microchipping, vaccinations and flea treatments as well as sterilization services for the pets of area residents. In fy 2014-15, the clinic sterilized 2,503 dogs and cats. As part of a Santa Barbara county-wide responsible pet ownership alliance, SMVHS also participated in collaborative promotions designed to provide even greater discounts on sterilizations for specific populations of animals. In recent years, the spay/neuter clinic has played a major role in the reduction of the number of companion animals euthanized in Northern Santa Barbara county.

Community Stories

2 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Board Member

Rating: 4

I began volunteering in the office and showing dogs and cats at the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society in 2001. At a later date I was asked to fill an open director position on the board and have remained as a board member since. Having held other board positions, I am currently vice-president. Our board is an involved, working group. Many members participate regularly in the planning and function of numerous fundraisers along with a dedicated core group of non board member volunteers and in addition active involvement from our staff.
Things I love about us:
-The love of our cats and dogs evidenced by the staff. One certainly does not work for a non-profit for the money...so it MUST be love.
-Our creative Executive Director and our devoted Operations Manager. Our very pleasant Office Assistants who create that all important first impression.
-When I was volunteering in the office, the most frequent comment made to me by the public was: "Everyone here is so nice; they care about the animals." and "The kennels are so clean! I don't small dog urine!" Our Kennel Manager ensures that every kennel and cage are disinfected daily along with clean bedding and beds. In addition, she loves every single one as if they are her own babies.
-Our many devoted volunteers who walk, socialize, brush, talk to and love the four-legged kids in our temporary care.
-Our low cost spay/neuter clinic that enables those families who cannot afford to S/N to be able to do so.
While I realize the above describes many aspects of thousands of non-profit humane societies, I feel our society has that particular "heart" that is prevalent in the Santa Maria Valley.
Our present shelter is adjacent to the city waste treatment plant. As the population in our area has better than doubled in the past decade (not only humans but our four-legged friends too), this necessitated the expansion of the city waste treatment plant that would essentially stop future growth of our facility in the present location. We are currently on city land and the city offered twice the acreage down the street and around the corner, as it were. So we have embarked on a capital campaign to build a new facility with double the capacity and with room to expand. This will save more lives and lessen the euthanasia rate at the Northern Santa Barbara County Shelter. In addition, the increased size of our S/N clinic will enable more low-income families to participate in a timely manner. Our present waiting time for an appointment is 6 weeks out.
After months of work from a local physician and our board president we have entered into a collaboration with Allan Hancock College to begin a Registered Veterinary Technician course which will use our new larger clinic as a hands-on teaching classroom. This will be the only RVT program in central California.
Not only do we need to raise the remainder of funds to complete our new facility, the new shelter will require more operating funds to support the increased, on-going work. As a board member and volunteer, I can assure donors their money will be well invested and have huge returns in saving the lives of homeless animals.



Rating: 5

The Santa Maria Valley Humane Society (SMVHS) was founded as a nonprofit organization in 1982 and operated as a volunteer-run organization focused on adoption solutions for unwanted cats and dogs. In 1988, the organization opened its current facility at 751 Black Road, Santa Maria, CA and added paid staff to manage the care, health, and placement of homeless animals. In 1998, the organization responded to the enormous need for low-cost spay and neuter alternatives by opening Northern Santa Barbara County’s only low-cost clinic available to the public. Now, with over 100 dedicated volunteers, a focused, hard-working staff, and impassioned volunteer board members the SMVHS lives out its mission. This includes: providing quality, compassionate care for homeless animals; addressing the critical issue of dog and cat overpopulation; and enhancing the human and animal bond. There is a critical and ever-increasing animal over-population situation in northern Santa Barbara County. Sadly, more than 2/3 of all animals euthanized annually in the entire County of Santa Barbara are from the Santa Maria area. The Santa Barbara County Animal Services shelter in Santa Maria euthanizes one out of every three animals entering its facility. Members of the SMVHS are impassioned to reduce this sad but true statistic. Stated in governmental terms this is equivalent to a ‘live release rate’ of 66% for the Santa Barbara County Animal Services Shelter in Santa Maria. Working in partnership, the SMVHS currently rescues from the County shelter as many animals as SMVHS space allows. With the additional services offered at the new SMVHS shelter, scheduled to be completed in 2011, and with increased public awareness on the importance of spay/neuter the eventual goal is to increase the County shelter’s live release rate to 90%. This figure acknowledges that there shall always be a few animals far too ill and or far too poorly behaved to place in new homes. In 2009, SMVHS low-cost spay/neuter clinic sterilized nearly 1,700 animals and anticipates increasing that number to well over 1,800 in 2010. This includes reaching a milestone of our 20,000th surgery. The SMVHS low-cost spay/neuter clinic provides quality, affordable spay/neuter services to the greater Santa Maria area. Please note it is the only low-cost spay /neuter facility between the Santa Ynez Valley and the City of San Luis Obispo. The city of Santa Maria generates more than 3,000 unwanted animals per year to the County shelter with untold more left to fend on their own, abandoned and in need. The SMVHS low-cost spay/neuter clinic makes a major impact on the wellbeing of animals living in this community. Many pet owners want to do the right thing and have their animals sterilized but are unable to do so due to the high cost of the procedure at traditional veterinary practices. SMVHS offers these services for a fraction of the price making the procedures affordable. Additionally, on a funds-available basis, the Sophie’s Fund program at the SMVHS offers even greater discounts to people in financial hardship. An important public service is the spay/neutering of feral cats orchestrated by local cat rescue organizations in partnership with the SMVHS low-cost spay/neuter clinic. Calculations show that 1 unaltered female cat and her offspring can produce an estimated 420,000 cats within 7 years. It is estimated the surgeries performed in the SMVHS low-cost spay/neuter clinic each year prevent the birth of millions of unwanted animals.

Review from Guidestar