Gimme shelter: SF SPCA celebrates 150 years

Last night, the San Francisco SPCA held a trivia night at SoMa StrEatfood Park, the latest in a string of celebrations in the organization's sesquicentennial year.

In its 150 years, the nonprofit's support of animal health and welfare put San Francisco on the map as the first American city with a no-kill shelter policy, one of several milestones in its history.

Today, it mainly helps dogs and cats find homes, but the shelter wasn’t started to benefit household pets.

“The SF SPCA was independently founded in San Francisco in 1868, and at that time was primarily focused on ensuring humane treatment for working horses in the city,” employee Danica Dito told Hoodline.

Although the group managed animal control citywide for a century, it ended its city contract in 1989. Since then, the city's Animal Care and Control department and SF SPCA have worked under an agreement guaranteeing that the city won't euthanize any adoptable animals.

SF SPCA Mission campus. | Photo: Kevin Y. /Yelp

With funding from Peoplesoft founder Dave Duffield, SF SPCA opened Maddie's Pet Adoption Center at 250 Florida St. in 1998. The facility, which houses cats and dogs in air-conditioned rooms with televisions and pet furniture, is open to the public daily.

In 2009, the SF SPCA’s Mission Campus became the largest veterinary center in the country, providing $5 million in charitable care last year.

"Our programs and services have expanded across the board, and we estimate that they now reach 250,000 people each each year," said Krista Maloney, the shelter's media relations manager. In 2014, the shelter merged with Pets Unlimited, taking over its Pacific Heights location.

Together, both shelters find homes for more than 5,000 animals each year. To raise awareness, the SF SPCA organizes ongoing events around the city like last night's trivia night.

“Hosting special events helps build awareness and get our adoptable animals in front of people who might not otherwise plan to visit a shelter,” said Maloney.

Photo: Stan L./Yelp

At an upcoming kitten shower on July 14, "guests will have the opportunity to snuggle with adoptable kittens while enjoying Saturday morning mimosas,” she added.

For a shelter that's always seeking forever homes, hosting events helps SF SPCA keep adoption rates up. Shelter employees and volunteers also appear at farmer markets and neighborhood festivals.

“Special events get people interested in adoption and help get our animals in front of a new audience of prospective adopters,” said Maloney.

Out of all the events that the SF SPCA hosts, its most popular are weekend adoptathons held a few times a year.

“We usually kickoff the weekend with a Friday evening cocktail party, where guests enjoy music, food trucks, cocktails, and special activities like Paint Your Pet,” Maloney said. “The cocktail parties often sell out, and we’ll have well over a thousand guests."

Coming up in July, SF SPCA is hosting a kitten shower on July 14 to help adopt out many of the kitten received during the spring and summer birthing season. On July 25, the shelter hosts Paint Your Pet, where guardians can go home with a painted portrait of their four-legged companion.

Both events will be held at SF SPCA's Pacific Heights location at 2343 Fillmore Street (between Washington and Clay streets).

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Gimme shelter sf spca celebrates 150 years