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April 15, 2009 > Animal Community Center offers unique services

Animal Community Center offers unique services

By Meenu Gupta
Photos By Courtesy of Laura Fulda

Welcome to a cage-free world for animals where they can be nourished, trained and engage in recreation. Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV) has opened the doors of its new Animal Community Center in Milpitas. The non-profit agency offers every possible kind of animal care that you can imagine, ranging from pet adoptions, medical care, a pet store and a pet-friendly cafe.

The 48,000-square-foot center is the first Animal Community Center in the U.S. to earn Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. "The animals will arrive on April 19th and we will be fully open as of April 20. Currently our pet store, doggie daycare, and education center are open," said James Farris, Supervisor of Marketing and Online Communications.

The new center offers pet adoptions. Pets and people get acquainted in the Acquaintance Room A and B. "These rooms are located near our dog habitats and are a nice area for people to bring their dogs from home in to meet a prospective dog they are thinking about adopting" said Laura Fulda, Vice President, HSSV Marketing and Communications. "Our Adoption Counselor will bring in the dog the family/person is interested in adopting and let the two dogs meet in a neutral area to make sure they will get along."

The center can accommodate up to 10,000 animal adoptions a year. The center accepts animals 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Different cities contract with different animal shelters to house stray animals.

The City of Sunnyvale contracts with Humane Society Silicon Valley to house its stray animals. Therefore, only stray animals found in Sunnyvale should be brought to Humane Society Silicon Valley. Animals found in Milpitas should be taken to the San Jose Animal Care & Services in San Jose.

The Sunshine's Community Cat Room and Sun Porch, named after a donor's cat, is a large area that will house 20 or so cats. The public will be able to walk in the room and play with the cats and get to know them. The room is furnished much like a home - with couches and chairs and plenty of cat trees and toys. "We want this to be a fun, relaxing, interactive room where people can interact with our kitty guests" said Fulda. In the summertime, cats will also be able to go out and nap in a screened in sun porch.

The Pet-Friendly cafe will soon offer food for people and pets. There will be seating inside and outside the building. "We'll serve simple snack-like food: sandwiches, fruit, cookies, coffee and soda," said Fulda. The idea is for people to have a chance to sit down, relax with their pet and visit with a friend and soak up the warm, pet-friendly atmosphere.

"We will have dog training classes available in our new facility," said Fulda. Aptly called the "community center," each dog habitat is furnished with a chair, dog bed and toys and is decorated with colorful artwork painted by well-known artists Sonya Paz and Ron Burns.

The dog park is sectioned into two areas; one for large dogs and one for small dogs. In response to customer feedback that pet owners want a safe and fun dog park environment, the dog park will be membership-based. For a monthly fee, members receive an ID tag, park access card, and member discounts to the Community Center pet store, Medical Center, Daycare, Boarding and grooming Services. Volunteer Lifeguards, trained in canine behavior and pet first aid, will be on duty to promote safe play. "We expect the dog park to be open in late April" Fulda said.

It is required that all member dogs be spayed/neutered, current on vaccinations and receive a behavior evaluation to ensure that they get along with other dogs and with people. "Our goal is to deepen the human-animal bond for dogs and their people. The dog park creates the opportunity for us to support our community's needs and to build personal relationships with our members and their animal companions that will last a lifetime" said Angeline Siegel, director of business and counseling services for the HSSV.

"We have computers throughout the Community Center for people to use to view our animals available for adoption as well as access materials and information they may want to email to themselves" said Fulda. As part of the "green building initiative" paper usage is reduced to minimum. Computers in the Education Center will be used by students of all ages.

Teens in their Youth Advisory Board and Compassion in Action (CIA) programs, will use computers to research animal topics, write papers, and work on video projects to post on the website and on You Tube. CIA is a service learning program for teens that allows students to explore animal welfare topics, work on service projects for HSSV or their community, and meet special animal guests. The program has received critical acclaim from the National & Community Service Resource Center.

Younger students may utilize the computers to play animal related computer games that teach them responsibility, compassion and citizenship. "We will be open for business on Monday, April 20th," said Fulda. "Teens in our CIA program will be able to create power point presentations to share with their schools & family, and create videos for their school projects."

Summer campers will have an opportunity to play web-based animal games on them during the camp day.

"Amazing Animals" Summer camp will run July - August. At these five, one-week camps, students will spend time meeting pets, making pet placemats, creating habitat boxes, making toys for the center's cats, and learning how to train a dog. Though there is still time for the sessions yet the camp sessions get full much before. Sessions are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Applications are received on a first-come, first-served basis. If you do not receive a confirmation within seven days, please email If all of the camp session(s) you requested are full at the time your application is received, you will be notified and your check will be returned to you by mail.

The $25 million center has been mainly funded through public donations. HSSV has yet to raise approximately $4.3 million to close the campaign. Here's your chance to show that you care: make a gift donation online or write to or call (408) 262-2133 extension 134, by June 30.

Humane Society Silicon Valley
901 Ames Avenue, Milpitas
(408) 262-2133

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