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Helen Woodward Animal Center

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal Protection & Welfare, Animals

Mission: This unique organization is a dynamic, evolving institution that is an agent of change for the animal welfare world. Not only are we operating innovative and beneficial programs for animals and people, but we are teaching others around the world how to successfully market and promote their programs and stop the senseless death of tens of thousands of animals.

Geographic areas served: Southern California

Programs: Adoption services - our innovative pet placement program for orphaned dogs and cats has found loving, permanent homes for thousands of animals. Education - includes school trips, tours, scouts, summer day camp. Specially trained educators use games, animal presentations, and crafts to teach animal behavior, pet responsibility, and humane treatment of animals. ACES - shelter university for organizations on how to run their animal welfare organization as a business, and increase the saving of lives. Attendees have come from all over the world. Club Pet boarding cares for pets of vacationing owners. PET brings love and tactile benefits of animals to seniors, abused children and hospitals. Therapeutic Riding uses trained horses to benefit the disabled physically, mentally and emotionally. Equine Hospital facility for area veterinarians treats ill equines. AniMeals offer free pet food for pets of homebound elderly or ill throughout San Diego County. Staff is quite often engaged in teaching our programs to other interested shelters in the US and around the world.

Community Stories

3 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Client Served

Rating: 1

I thought Helen Woodward was a place that cared enough for animals to educate potential adoptive families on appropriate care! Apparently not!! They were more like "Animal Nazis"! I went in with my 3 kids to adopt a cat. I filled out an extensive application where they asked if I would ever de-claw a cat. My response said something like "maybe"? But when the lady asked me about that response, I again said "Maybe, but I would like your advice on that". Apparently it doesn't matter if you are willing to be educated on this subject . . . their policy is to flat out deny anyone that puts on their application that they might consider de-clawing. No education; no working with you; just treat you like you are a criminal and say they will mark your application as denied! I even talked to the manager, but she basically said that all of the upper management is on a pedestal on the issue and will not make any exceptions and don't really care about educating or "rehabbing" people. We are so sorry for the cat that we wanted to adopt and H.W. should be too. With thousands of cats needing adoption in San Diego, they just turned down a happy and caring home with lots of fun and attention.


Client Served

Rating: 1

I took my equine to Helen Woodward after treating him at home with 2 veterinarians for 12 days. He was so sick in the beginning that my vets thought that the trailer ride would kill him. He was suffering from toxicity. At the twelve day point my veterinarian thought that he was now going to make it and he was feeling much better. I suggested we take him to Helen Woodward so that his blood could be monitored on a daily, if not semi daily basis and anything he needed could be given him on the spot. My vet suggested to me that he was doing quite well right where he was and recommended we keep treating him at home. (I didn't know my vet never would send an animal there until much later) After more discussion and my believing that his care could only improve with experts on the job, we called Helen Woodward and spoke to the vet on call. She said to bring our boy in after learning what had been wrong, how many days he had been recovering, and what his recovery status was. He walked out of the horse trailer and walked into his metal stall. He investigated the stall and had a drink out of each of the buckets of water they had put into the stall. The vet looked at him for a minute or two and then said she was going to put her "A" team on the job. The "A" team was a couple of very young girls. The vet ordered plasma for our boy. After just three or four ml's, our boy collapsed onto the ground. We had to run out and look for our "A" team and the vet. It took more than ten minutes to find someone. When the girl came to the stall, she didn't know what to do. We told her the vet needed to come 'right now'. She left for about fifteen minutes and finally came back and said the vet was gone for 'family night' with her children. She had never told us that she would not be there when she told us to bring our boy down there. We asked the girls to call another vet. They said they couldn't as this vet was the one on call...but she never answered her pages. We asked the girl for a sling so we could get our boy up. The girls said that if they brought the sling they would have to bring in more people to help with it and they couldn't do that without the vet's permission. The vet still did not answer her pages. It was a cold night. We had to dress in winter jackets. We asked for blankets for our boy, but he was laying on a cold floor in a metal stall and it just kept getting colder. I went out and looked for the girls again. It took me about twenty minutes to find one of them. I asked her if they had an electric blanket for our boy. They said no. An hour later she brought me a small red human hot water bottle, to heat up a 800 pound equine. I asked her what she thought that was going to do for him, but we put it under his blanket anyway. The two of us cuddled up on either side of him and covered us all up with the horse blanket we had in the trailer. We all three shivered and shivered. We begged the girls to call another doctor in but they refused to do it. We lay there all night with this poor boy. His body temp was 97. He had tried to get up when he first fell, but without help he could not get up. We asked them to help us get him up but they refused. In the morning, after we shivered and froze all night long, the vet came to our stall. We asked why she had not answered her pages and was allowing this animal to die there when she was supposed to be helping him. She told us to leave. We asked her to please get the sling and save him. She told us to leave again. We had to drag our boy up the ramp of the trailer on the ground. Lucy Eden would not allow anyone there to help us load him back up, although several able bodied men watched who worked there watched us load him. He lay in the trailer all the way home. He just an hour after we got home, after having to drag him on a tarp into our barn. Our vet met us as we arrived. He could not believe the condition our poor boy was in after being so great the day before, and having improved day by day by day until that fateful day we entrusted him to Helen Woodward and that vet. He could not survive the body temperature in that terrible cold stall that many hours. I cried for over a year, just at the mention of his name, or the thought of this beautiful best friend's loss. The story is a little longer, as time after time we asked the girls to call another vet since Lucy would never answer her page throughout the night. We told them we would call our vets and they would come and care for him. They said they would not let them through the gate as they did not have permission to practice there. After this happened to us, we discovered that we were certainly not alone in what happened to us there. There are many stories so similar.


Client Served

Rating: 1

This charity is ridiculous. I adopted a laboratory Beagle that had been placed here only to find out that this organization sells the very product that tests on these poor dogs! What hypocrites!!!!! My sweet little Beagle only lasted a few years with me after living 8 years in a lab that is partly sponsored by this "organization". I wrote to them and spoke to representatives only to get the run around. Look at what thier president makes compared to other charities. This is a lousy charity that would rather cater to it's elite party's and expenses than to the needs of animals. I would never give them a cent again and would go to to a smaller local Humane Society who's president gets a more realistic salary and the animals are first priority!

Review from CharityNavigator