Pixel Tracker

Sunday, December 16 , 2018, 7:32 pm | Fair 56º


Dollars, Volunteers a Constant Need at Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society

Shelter’s success at placing dogs and cats brings added challenges of maintaining services, but you can help

Playing with kittens is an important part of their development as the Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society gets them ready for adoption. It’s also fun for the volunteers, who come in all ages and sizes. Click to view larger
Playing with kittens is an important part of their development as the Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society gets them ready for adoption. It’s also fun for the volunteers, who come in all ages and sizes. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

[Noozhawk’s note: This article is the third in a series sponsored by the Hutton Parker Foundation. Click here for the first article. Click here for the second article.]

Emily Grossheider remembers an airport conversation with a stranger who noticed her T-shirt’s animal-rescue message. The stranger’s parting comment also sparked a revelation.

“She said goodbye and said, ‘The world needs more people like you,’” she recalled. “But I realized, ‘You know what? We don’t. There are enough of us. We just need more support.”

As shelter director for the Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society, Grossheider is on the spot to find and sustain that kind of support locally, and the need is only increasing.

Through the first seven months of this year, the nonprofit organization’s low-cost spay-neuter clinic is on pace to provide almost 60 percent more surgeries than it did a year ago. In the same seven months, the group has placed more dogs and cats into permanent homes than it did in all of the previous year — with many more pets still in search of people to take them in.

“Every day there’s another call” from someone needing the shelter’s services, Grossheider says.

All of that spells success, but it costs more money. In an environment in which every employee and volunteer is focused on the animals and their welfare, she is constantly mindful that a huge part of her job is to keep the lights on.

“We need to raise $600,000 a year to keep the doors open,” Grossheider told Noozhawk. “That’s just maintenance.

“Anything else,” she added wistfully, “can be put away for a rainy day or expansion.”

The local Humane Society gets no financial help from the national Humane Society, government grants or any other form of tax dollars. Private donations are its life’s blood, and, of course, cash is king. But not all meaningful donations are financial.

Perhaps the biggest support pillar is the society’s House of Treasures thrift shop in a converted cottage at 393 Alisal Road in Solvang. About 50 dedicated volunteers take charge of the operation, from receiving and preparing donations to pricing, displaying and selling them.

The crowded little shop is also the source of locally ubiquitous license-plate frames that read “Beautiful Santa Ynez Valley.” The $7 plastic rectangles (Or, hey, get two for $12!) are a popular and painless fundraiser.

Volunteer time, at the thrift shop and at the shelter, may be the most valuable donation of all. The shelter, as hidden as the thrift store is visible, sits in a commercial-industrial park at the northeast edge of Buellton. That’s great to keep barking dogs from disturbing neighbors, but not so good for public awareness.

With about 50 people volunteering at the shelter, “we could use dozens more,” Grossheider said. She also points out that there’s a task to fit every skill set.

Dogs enjoy the attention, too. Click to view larger
Dogs enjoy the attention, too. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

“Someone with even an hour a week who can walk dogs is wonderful,” she explained. “That socializing experience is invaluable for the dog.”

In a similar way, volunteers with “calm and gentle energy” who are willing to just sit and interact with a batch of kittens are very helpful in getting them ready for adoption, she adds.

Cleaning is another big job, but not all of it involves hard-core scrubbing of kennels — although that job is ready and waiting for anyone willing. It extends to simply folding towels and other materials that come out of the shelter’s continuously running washer and dryer.

Important jobs also include clerical and other office work, and even photography, which allows the organization’s website to keep up with the constantly rotating photos of pets awaiting adoption.

Financial donations can be made in many ways, as well, and while large ones are cause for celebration, so are the small ones.

“Membership” in the Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society costs as little as $25 per year. That gives the donor, in addition to the usual charitable tax deduction, eligibility for the shelter’s pet-boarding services, a subscription to the organization’s newsletter, and the satisfaction of helping pay for the shelter’s operating costs.

Books on pet health and behavior that are purchased through the group’s website, www.syvhumane.org, result in a donation to the shelter from dogwise.com.

Similarly, people who sign up at iGive.com (complete with iPhone, iPad and Android apps) make a donation at no cost to themselves every time they shop online at one of nearly 1,500 sites, including Amazon.com, Overstock.com, Macy’s and Petco.

Emily Grossheider, shelter director at the Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society, is grateful for volunteers who can devote even an hour a week to walk dogs. “That socializing experience is invaluable,” she says. Click to view larger
Emily Grossheider, shelter director at the Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society, is grateful for volunteers who can devote even an hour a week to walk dogs. “That socializing experience is invaluable,” she says. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

Large bequests are also crucial. Primarily because of two major donors, for example, the Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society bought the property and built its animal shelter debt-free in 1984-1985.

Under the guidance of a five-member board of community volunteers, it has remodeled and expanded several times since then, including the addition of a mobile home for a caretaker’s residence.

The group still encourages donations through estate planning or bequests of stocks, bonds and other securities. It is also planning a major fundraiser called Dogtoberfest, with Figueroa Mountain Brewery Co. as its primary partner, in October.

But smaller donations, sometimes from smaller people, make a huge difference, too.

Sometimes after a presentation at an elementary school, Grossheider says, a child will decide to operate a lemonade stand “and suddenly we get a $200 donation. That’s hugely meaningful for us,” she shared.

Dollars aside, though, with the many tasks that need volunteer help, “anything people can help with is meaningful to us,” she said.

“At some point we would like to be bigger than we are,” Grossheider added, “but it all comes back to the money circle.”

The Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society is located at 111 Commerce Drive in Buellton and the thrift shop is located at 393 Alisal Road in Solvang. Click here for more information or to volunteer, email [email protected] or call 805.688.8224. Click here to make an online donation.

Noozhawk contributing writer Dave Bemis can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >