We are dedicated to shaping the future
of care for homeless and at-risk animals.
By increasing the pipeline of talent in animal
sheltering and empowering the sheltering
community, we will all elevate our level of
care for shelter animals.

Shortage of Veterinary Staff

75 M

pets could lose access to veterinary care by 2030 due to a shortage of veterinarians

Increasing the Pipeline of Veterinary Staff

Increasing the pipeline of veterinary staff is our primary goal to address the shortage that is impacting shelters all over the country. We focus on educating veterinary interns and externs and investing in programs that encourage more students to enter the veterinary field. Each year, veterinary students are invited to HSSV to learn from our Medical team and encourage them to consider a future in shelter medicine.

“I can’t say enough great things about my experience as a veterinary student extern at Humane Society Silicon Valley. It was one of the highlights of my clinical year and I hope more students are afforded the same opportunity.

From honing my surgical skills to working up common (and not-so-common) cases seen in animal shelters, the staff encouraged my involvement and I felt like I was already part of the team. I only hope I can be an amazing doctor one day, just like all of the veterinarians at HSSV.”

-Veterinary Extern, funded by Maddie’s Fund



Inconsistent Standards of Care

Becoming a Model Shelter

In 2010, the Association of Shelter Veterinarians (ASV), comprised of a deeply passionate group of veterinarians and experts, published their Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters. It was a voluntary set of guidelines designed to elevate the practices and protocols in animal shelters with a goal of eliminating the suffering and needless death of homeless pets. It consisted of over five hundred guidelines.

Cat cages with a “portal” cut through them, as specified in the guidelines.

Dr. Cristie Kamiya, Chief of Shelter Medicine at HSSV, was working on her Shelter Medicine residency at UC Davis when the guidelines were published. Toward the end of her shelter medicine residency, Dr. Kamiya was hired at HSSV after having spent the previous few years as a relief veterinarian for HSSV performing spay/neuter surgeries on her free weekends.

Dr. Kamiya soon began informally bringing HSSV’s processes and policies closer to the ASV guidelines. A few years later, under her recommendation and supervision, HSSV made the decision to attempt to formally complete all 543 guidelines for standards of animal care. If completed, HSSV would be the first ever shelter to do so. We would be the first Model Shelter.

Dr. Kamiya and our team focused on making changes that would decrease animals’ length of stay in our shelter. Longer lengths of stay in shelters can lead to an increase in diseases, stress, and behavior issues. We made changes in our housing and enrichment protocols in order to decrease the stress of our shelter animals, which allowed them to find homes even faster. We wrote new protocols for cleaning, for behavior, for animal care. Being first meant such documents didn’t yet exist — so we created them. The process of becoming a Model Shelter took almost two years of work across all departments.

Dr. Cristie Kamiya and Dr. Kate Hurley, one of the co-authors of the ASV guidelines

In 2017, the ASV team certified that HSSV had met all 543 guidelines. We were the first shelter in the world to do so.

Now, more than a decade after they were first published, the guidelines are receiving an update. This time, Dr. Kamiya is on the ASV team responsible for researching, reviewing, and updating the guidelines with new information we’ve learned about shelter medicine since the guidelines were first published. “I’ve been working in shelters for a very long time – I started working in shelters as a veterinarian in the early 2000s. Shelter medicine has changed so much,” says Dr. Kamiya. “It’s been really cool to see the evolution of shelter medicine and the lifesaving that’s possible. For us to be part of the forefront of the innovation in shelter medicine and teaching others is amazing.” 

Scaling our Impact

As the animal welfare field continues to evolve and new challenges emerge, our team is responding by updating our own standards of care using learnings from industries outside of animal welfare to inform our processes and approach. Over the last two years, an increase in animals with significant behavior challenges entering shelters inspired our Behavior team to create a new approach to addressing behavior needs in the shelter. Our Behavior team is shifting from being the primary team focused on reducing stress and tackling behavior challenges to instead teaching all our staff and volunteers how to keep shelter animals mentally and emotionally well in the shelter environment. By creating new trainings and classes, the team is empowering all staff and volunteers to work with animals in the shelter and address behavior challenges. They are also increasingly serving as a resource to adopters who need behavior assistance for their adopted animals in order to help adopters learn how to solve these issues and keep their beloved pets in their homes.


Once this Behavior revamp is complete, our goal is to help other shelters struggling with behavior challenges in their shelters by teaching them our new processes and how to empower their staff and volunteers.

Limited Resources

3 %

of all charitable donations go to animal-related or environmental causes

Increasing Lifesaving Together

One of the commitments we have made to our partner shelters is that we will not only transfer in animals to prevent overcrowding at those shelters, but to be there as a resource when they need us most. As their partner, our goal is to help them address the root causes of overpopulation, which is often exacerbated by a lack of resources. 


So when one of our partner shelters found themselves with an outbreak of Distemper among their shelter puppy population, we rushed to help. Distemper can be highly dangerous to unvaccinated animals, and is very contagious in a shelter population. We sent a veterinary team to the Central Valley shelter to help them test and treat the sick puppies and clean the shelter to prevent any further spread of disease. The team also assisted in creating protocols aimed at preventing future outbreaks in the shelter. We’re grateful to have not only the resources but also the expertise to share with our partners and increase lifesaving in our state.

Our Vision

We are dedicated to changing the game in the animal welfare industry. Our vision is a world in which animal shelters across the country have the resources they need to save lives and provide a safe, healthy space for the animals in their care.

Shape the future of the sheltering community

Connect with us to find out how you can be a part of building the future.

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