The Helen Woodward Animal Center of Rancho Santa Fe held a community celebration for its 50th anniversary on August 6 in the center pavilion.
Festivities included free tours of the center, meetings with the center’s “animal ambassadors”, games, children’s crafts, face painting and more. The event also included a VIP brunch with guest speakers.
The association bears the name of its founder, Helen Whittier Woodward. In 1972, Woodward, a longtime Del Mar resident, worked with friends to create a place that would encompass comprehensive animal care and public education programs. She led the association until her death in 1984. Since then, the center has become known worldwide for its work in helping animals and people, which goes beyond adoption services.
The center estimates that more than 945,000 adults and children have participated in the nonprofit’s humane education, therapeutic riding and pet therapy services.
The 12-acre center has placed more than 65,000 orphaned animals into homes over its 50-year history and has helped facilitate the placement of more than 19 million animals in conjunction with approximately 4,000 Blue Buffalo Home 4 the Holidays global partner shelters since the program began in 1999, according to center spokeswoman Jessica Gercke.
The center offers community and educational programs ranging from AniMeals, which provides pet food for homebound seniors throughout San Diego County, in partnership with groups such as Meals on Wheels, Humane Education and Pet Encounter Therapy, Therapeutic Horseback Riding and Pets Without Walls, which provides health services and pet food to homeless community members.
The campus includes a pet hospital and an equine and large animal hospital, as well as a pet boarding facility.
The center offers free workshops for animal welfare staff and volunteers as part of its internationally acclaimed program, called “The Business of Saving Lives”. For more information, visit www.animalcenter.org. — Report by Linda McIntosh, San Diego Union-Tribune
Photos by Jon Clark