Helen Woodward Animal Center marks 50th anniversary with community celebration


The Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe held a community celebration for its 50th anniversary Aug. 6 in the Center Pavilion.

Festivities included free tours of the center, meet-and-greets with the center’s “animal ambassadors,” games, children’s crafts, face painting and more. The event also included a VIP brunch with guest speakers (see photos from the event above).

The nonprofit is named after 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 nonprofit until her death in 1984. Since then, the center has become known worldwide for its work 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 center, which sits on 12 acres, has placed more than 65,000 orphan pets into homes over its 50-year history and helped facilitate the placement of over 19 million pets in collaboration with approximately 4,000 Blue Buffalo Home 4 the Holidays global partner shelters since the program started in 1999, according to center spokesperson Jessica Gercke.

The center provides community and educational programs ranging from AniMeals, which offers food for pets of homebound elderly people throughout San Diego County in partnership with groups such as Meals on Wheels, Humane Education and Pet Encounter Therapy to Therapeutic Horseback Riding and Pets Without Walls, which provides health services and pet food for the pets of homeless community members.

The campus includes a Companion Animal Hospital and an Equine and Large Animal Hospital, along with a Club Pet Boarding Facility.

The center offers free workshops for animal welfare staff and volunteers through its internationally known 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