Frequently Asked Questions

Got a question? Read HSSV’s Frequently Asked Questions to get answers about our medical, pet and adoption services.

Q: How many animals does Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV) assist annually?
A: Last Fiscal Year, HSSV found homes for more than 6,100 animals. Learn more about our impact.

Q: When was HSSV established?
A: HSSV was established in 1929. Since that time, we have found loving homes for more than 500,000 animals. We moved into our Animal Community Center in 2009 and operate two Neighborhood Adoption Centers.

Q: What does it mean to be a model shelter?
A: In 2017, HSSV became the first shelter to meet or exceed all of the 543 Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animals Shelters set forth by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians in 2010. Learn more here.

Q: How is HSSV funded and governed?
A: HSSV is an independent, non-profit organization supported by individual donations, program fees, special events, and foundation and corporate grants. For more information about financials, visit Charity Navigator, Guidestar, or our Mission Impact & Financials. The agency is governed by a volunteer board of directors. Learn more about our Board of Directors and Leadership team.

Q: How does HSSV fundraise?
A: HSSV is an independent non-profit, and we rely on donor dollars in order to fulfill our lifesaving work. To raise funds, we engage community members through various channels including direct mail appeals, email solicitations, and digital communications. We are also piloting different types of marketing efforts: door-to-door, telephone, and radio fundraising. These pilot programs are essential to HSSV’s growth as we continue to increase our mission results, serving pets and people in Silicon Valley first and foremost, while also providing relief to crowded shelters up and down the state of California.

This approach also helps reinforce the message that, unlike national organizations that fundraise in our community but do not operate shelters here, Humane Society Silicon Valley is saving and enhancing lives right here at home. Finally and critically, our diverse approach to fundraising helps HSSV accommodate the different ways members of our community like to give, ensuring that anyone with a passion for this work can help expand HSSV’s lifesaving reach.

If you have received a call from (408) 990-3484 or (408) 479-2681, that would be our tele-canvassers reaching out to our community members to help raise lifesaving funds.

We have our friends from New Canvassing Experience doing door-to-door fundraising on our behalf. If you have any questions or concerns regarding our door-to-door fundrasising efforts please call (408) 262-2133 x115.

Q: How do I receive my tax summary letter or access a donation receipt?
A: By using our new Donor Portal tool you can access your annual tax summary, view/print donation receipts, update your contact information, and more. Log in to the portal or register for an account here.

Q: How many employees and volunteers does HSSV have?
A: HSSV has over 150 employees and more than 3,000 active volunteers.

Q: What cities does HSSV provide animal sheltering services for?
A: HSSV provides shelter services for the city of Sunnyvale. We receive stray, sick, injured, and dead animals picked up by animal control in this city.

Q: Does HSSV accept owner-surrendered animals?
A: HSSV accepts owner surrendered cats, dogs, and rabbits by appointment only. All surrendered animals are assessed by our medical and behavioral experts for our adoption program. If they do not meet our requirements, then every attempt is made to find the animal a home either through a rescue group or other shelter. Learn more information about Pet Surrender.

Q: What is the difference between Humane Society Silicon Valley, Humane Society and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA)?
A: The names generally mean the same thing, but all SPCA and Humane Societies are separate non-profit agencies. For example, the Humane Society of the United States does not have any authority or connection with HSSV. We all operate independently. Learn more about our mission impact and financials.

Q: Why should I pay to adopt an animal at the shelter when I can get one for free?
A: Our goal is to be the best place to adopt a pet. When you adopt from our shelter, you meet with an adoption counselor who knows each of our animals’ history and can match you with the pet that best suits you & your family. Your pet receives a behavior and medical evaluation, vaccinations, is spayed or neutered, and microchipped. Therefore, the cost of the services you and your pet receive actually totals much more than the adoption fee we charge. And, by adopting from our shelter, you not only save the life of that animal, you support our services so that we can continue to care for the other homeless pets in Silicon Valley.

Q: Is Humane Society Silicon Valley a no-kill shelter?
A: Yes, we are aligned with the no-kill philosophy and our mission is to save as many animals as possible in our community. We do not euthanize for time or space. We save over 95% of animals in our care, which is well above the threshold considered for being a no kill shelter and we meet the programmatic guidelines put forth by the No Kill Advocacy Center. It is important to note that there is quite a bit of misunderstanding around the term “no kill” with the general public. As a result, we do not routinely use this language because it suggests, and many people assume, that absolutely no euthanasia occurs. Specifically in cases where an animal is gravely ill, suffering and not treatable, or if the safety of people and/or other animals is at risk, we do humanely euthanize an animal.

There are also differences in how organizations calculate save rate data. For example, Best Friends includes owner requested euthanasia for animals with untreatable or unmanageable conditions in their statistics. We do not include this number because we believe our low cost euthanasia service for the general public is a valuable resource to our community. We only provide this service for gravely ill or injured pets. In some cases, we are actually able to help more animals because we can save and re-home an animal with a treatable condition that an individual was otherwise intending to euthanize. We believe in transparency around our data. For detailed data on animal intake and save rates, please view our Asilomar Reports.

Q: How long do you keep the animals before you euthanize them?
A: Our goal is to ensure that every animal in our adoption program is placed in a loving home. If an animal is healthy and behaviorally sound, we care for that animal until we find it a home. We never euthanize for time or space. Our staff and volunteers socialize and exercise our animals to help keep them happy and well-adjusted during their stay at the shelter.

Q: Do you have legal holding times for animals that are brought into your shelter?

A: Yes, California state law governs legal holding periods for shelter animals. The legal times are as follows:
  • Stray cats with identification: 10 days
  • Stray cats without identification: 72 hours
  • Feral cats: 72 hours
  • Stray dogs with identification: 10 days
  • Stray dogs without identification: 5 days
  • Surrendered cats and dogs: no holding period

Please note that HSSV does everything possible to reunite animals brought to the shelter bearing ID. During the 10-day holding period, staff makes every attempt to locate the owner and inform them that we have their pet.