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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Helen's Vision

During a recent visit to southern California, we spent some time at Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe just north of San Diego. HWAC is a not for profit animal adoption center that was started in 1972 by a woman (Helen) who had a vision. This is not your typical animal shelter in the low rent district, euthanizing animals, and a depressing place to visit. Quite the opposite actually. The center is located in the most expensive community in the United States, has a pet boarding facility, an equine and small animal veterinary clinic, educational programs, children's summer camp, a therapeutic riding program and does 3000 adoptions a year. Wow! Of course, none of that is possible without its committed volunteers and staff who run the center like a well oiled machine.

The success of the center stems from its involvement in the community and how it is managed verses a typical animal control facility. President Mike Arms has been in the shelter business for over 30 years. Notice, I said business. He runs the center and makes decisions using successful business and marketing principles, not emotion which is often how these types of organizations are managed. Of course the emotion is there wanting to save animals and keep them from being killed but he has proven time and again that shrewd decisions based on business is how it is done. Mr. Arms shares these principles and teaches them to shelter organizations around the world with the goal of saving the lives of animals and adopting them into their forever family.

The center is located on 12 acres surrounded by Jenny Craig's horse ranch and multi million dollar homes. The buildings are older and serve the purpose but currently the center is undergoing construction. They are building a new veterinary hospital and administration offices which will later be followed by new adoption and boarding facilities. Once completed, the center will be a state of the art facility continuing to serve and improve the lives and welfare of animals in the community. We talked to several employees during our visit and it is obvious that they all serve the vision of founder Helen Woodward to "make the world a better place for people and animals".

Be sure when you adopt an animal visit your local shelter and save a life. If you have extra time, volunteer and make the difference in the lives of orphaned animals-help save lives and find them their families. To learn more about Helen Woodward Animal Center visit

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