Woods and North County humane societies are teaming up to help pets in the North County.
The two shelters announced Wednesday their intent to merge, with San Luis Obispo-based Woods to take over the Atascadero facility. North County Humane Society, a member-based organization, voted in favor of the merger.
The arrangement is expected to take effect in January, said Steve Kragenbrink, Woods’ community programs director.
“We’re in the process of making sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed,” he said.
Woods, which operates on an annual budget of $2.2 million, is significantly larger than North County Humane Society, which is run on $400,000 per year, Kragenbrink said.
Once the merger is complete, all North County employees will begin working for Woods. Two members of the North County Humane Society board of directors also will join Woods’ board. The North County facility will take on the Woods moniker, but it will be referred to as the North County campus.
Kragenbrink said the idea for the merger developed about six months ago, after the two shelters expressed a mutual desire to build a low-cost spay and neuter clinic in the North County. Once the organizations started talking, the partnership began to seem like a good plan, said Martha Pedersen, North County Humane Society board president.
“Why not join forces instead of competing?” she said.
The merger allows Woods to serve animals and pet owners in a new area of San Luis Obispo County and provides North County Humane Society, a smaller organization, with additional resources.
I think it’s going to be a good thing for animals in the county.
Eric Anderson, San Luis Obispo County’s animal services manager, about the merger
Pedersen said she was especially happy that Woods plans to bring services for dogs to the region, as the group’s Atascadero facility currently serves only cats.
“We think it will ensure the welfare of North County cats and dogs,” she said.
The organization’s short-term goal is to open a low-cost spay and neuter clinic on the existing North County site at 2300 Ramona Road. Kragenbrink said Woods expects the clinic could be up and running by June.
Long-term goals include finding a location for a new shelter that will accommodate both cats and dogs, a spay and neuter clinic and a humane education center. Kragenbrink said the shelter is likely about five years away from becoming a reality, and selecting or receiving suitable land would be the first step.
“It’s huge,” he said. “It’s going to be huge for North County felines. It’s huge for North County dogs.”
Eric Anderson, San Luis Obispo County’s animal services manager, said the agency works most closely with Woods — both are located off Highway 1 on the 800 block of Oklahoma Avenue — but also has a good relationship with North County Humane Society.
Anderson said the merger is a good move that will keep the groups from duplicating their efforts in the North County and will allow them to focus on additional projects.
“I think it’s going to be a good thing for animals in the county,” he said.