Caring for the
RCHS also serves
The Rancho Coastal Humane Society (RCHS) was formed in 1960 by a group of hardworking volunteers, led by animal lover Maria K. Lloyd. The goal was and continues to be to care for the homeless animal population of San Diego County, educate the public about pet over-population, and responsible companion animal care. RCHS has grown from a small facility run by volunteers to a professionally managed humane society today that provides quality shelter care, adoption services, education programs, and an animal safehouse program for the survivors of domestic violence. We had the opportunity to talk with the RCHS team to discover the great impact the nonprofit organziation is making on the community and surrounding areas. It is apparent that all those involved take great pride in carrying out the mission of the organization.
A Note from the Rancho Coastal Humane Society
“Out in the sticks.” That was a pretty good way of describing 389 Requeza St. in Encinitas back in 1960. That also made it the perfect area for Maria K. Lloyd to buy a little house on a five-acre parcel and begin the Rancho Coastal Humane Society.
“Most people don’t remember how remote Encinitas was in 1960,” said RCHS Community Liaison Nick Winfrey. “The main north-south route through the state of California was the Pacific Coast Highway. In many areas it was only one lane in each direction. Today that mile between RCHS and Highway 101 is no big deal. But back then it was a pretty good climb up over the hill. Once you dropped down on the east side you came across a dirt road. We still have photos of that road in our archives. You can see some farm animals that are grazing in the fenced area. The road is actually still there. But today it’s paved and most people just call it Interstate 5.”
What about the house? Nick said, “The little house is still there. It was the original building that housed the animal shelter. During these past 50 years we’ve undergone some modifications and made some additions. The garage was enclosed and has become part of our lobby. There have been two expansions of the dog kennels. The cattery is a totally separate building. And the rabbitat is in a quiet little building covered with shady trees.”
What prompted so much growth for a little animal shelter that was “out in the sticks?” The answer is simple. Neighbors. Families and business owners discovered this little piece of paradise and began moving to Encinitas, Leucadia, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, and Olivenhain. When they moved into their new homes with their big yards, they wanted pets. And they adopted those pets from RCHS.
“When RCHS opened its doors there were two goals,” said Nick. “The first was to get homeless animals off the streets and into lifelong homes with their new families through our Pet Adoption program. The second goal went hand-in-paw with that. If you were going to send people home with pets, you had to teach families how to care for their pets. That remains the basis of our Humane Education program.”
Opening an animal shelter requires more than just good intentions. As a non-profit organization, RCHS needed to be able to provide food, medical care, and other necessities for the animals. In order to generate the necessary operating funds the founders opened the Rancho Coastal Humane Society Thrift Shop at 120 Aberdeen Dr. in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. RCHS used the money spend at the shop to pay for dog food, cat food, veterinary expenses, and other needs.
Nick explained that recycling is a recurring theme at the shelter: “We deal in slightly-used pets. More than 90% of the pets in our kennels, cattery, and rabbitat have been transferred to RCHS from other animal shelters and rescue groups. Some pets arrive from places that don’t have the space or funding to continue caring for them. Others have run out of time. In 2012, the RCHS “Second Chance” program was joined by Friends of County Animal Shelters (FOCAS). This merger made our lifeline even longer.”
Today, as in 1960, your Rancho Coastal Humane Society remains “A Place of Shelter.”
Q&A with President/CEO Jim Silveira, PR & Marketing Director John Van Zante, and Community Liaison Nick Winfrey
What are the main services provided?
PET ADOPTIONS (one of the two original programs offered when RCHS opened in 1960)
Matching homeless dogs, cats, and rabbits with the families that will care for them the rest of their lives.
Approximately 90% of the pets adopted from RCHS have been transferred from other animal shelters or pet rescue organizations. This created a perfect match and in 2012 the Friends of County Animal Shelters (FOCAS) organization merged under the umbrella of RCHS.
HUMANE EDUCATION (the second of the original programs at RCHS)
In a time when so many children are growing up in apartments, condos, homeowners’ associations, and other situations that do not allow them to have pets, the Education program at RCHS exposes youngsters to the dogs, cats, and other animals that share their world. This program teaches lessons in humanity to today’s children who will become tomorrow’s leaders.
PET ASSISTED THERAPY (PAT)
PAT brings the healing power of animals to people when they need it most. “Love on a Leash” trained and certified therapy dogs and their handlers to visit seniors in extended care facilities, college and high school students who are stressed out about final exams, elementary school children struggling to read, and autistic children who benefit from hands-on contact with these loving, soothing creatures.
ANIMAL SAFEHOUSE PROGRAM (ASP)
Rancho Coastal Humane Society provides a safety net for the pets of domestic violence victims. Domestic abuse shelters can provide safe haven for the human victims, but pets left behind often become the targets of the abusers. Thanks to ASP, human victims can escape knowing that their pets will be cared for.
COMMUNITY PET FOOD BANK
The Food Bank at Rancho Coastal Humane Society is keeping families and their pets together by providing pet food and other supplies for pet owners who cannot afford it. Seniors on fixed incomes, families that are “working poor,” and members of the homeless population do not have to give up the unconditional love of their pets thanks to the Community Pet Food Bank.
MILITARY WORKING DOG (MWD) MEMORIAL
The inscription at Rancho Coastal Humane Society explains that it is, “Dedicated to all Military Working Dogs and their handlers past, present, and future. Your deeds and sacrifices will always be remembered.”
RCHS is a nonprofit, charitable organization. How do you receive funds and how do you allocate funds received?
All funds generated by RCHS and all donations, whether they be personal donations, grants, etc., are put back into the programs and services that RCHS provides for people and animals. Most funding for the shelter comes in the way of private donations from individuals and grants from foundations.
RCHS also generates funds through special events including the annual “Celebration of Second Chances” and the “5K Paw Walk through the Garden.” The income provided by our Humane Education program goes directly back into the program.
In the Adoptions program, the surrender fees and adoption fees do not cover the cost involved to provide medical and behavioral exams, vaccinations, spay / neuter services, and microchip identification. Restricted donations to the adoptions program and donations to the general operating fund help to cover the cost of this program.
RCHS also works as a leader in the animal welfare industry to help meet the needs of the pets that are under our care. One example would be a grant received from the PETCO Foundation to provide food for all of the pets in the adoption program for an entire year.
Where does the money donated to RCHS go towards?
Some nonprofit organizations are shy when it comes to asking for money. Others can be secretive about how they spend it. RCHS is neither shy nor secretive. People choose to support our programs for people and animals. If we don’t tell them what’s needed, they don’t know how to help. We’re proud to show them everything we accomplish thanks to them and their generosity. The money they donate is put to good use in areas such as pet adoptions, the Humane Education program, TLC Fund (provides medical treatment when it’s needed most), ASP, shelter beautification, and more. Wherever it’s needed most.
What is the most rewarding part about working with RCHS?
This varies a lot from person to person, department to department, day to day, and even hour to hour.
One of the top answers would be watching families walk out the door with the pets they’ve just adopted. That’s a sight that never gets old. Life just got better for all of them. Since the FOCAS program merged into RCHS in 2012, the selection of pets available is even better than it’s ever been.
Seeing the faces of children in our Animal Camp or after school programs light up when, for the first time, they “get it” about how important it is for animals and people to live together in harmony. It’s a lesson that they’ll carry over into all parts of their lives. One mom told us that her daughters were nicer to each other because of the things they learned at Animal Camp.
We’ll never forget the toothless smile of a homeless man who was the very first “customer” of the RCHS Community Pet Food Bank. He was a veteran that was living on the streets with his old dog. It was obvious that the dog was in much better health than the man. Trying to hold back his tears, the man told us, “I don’t care about myself. But I love my dog. He’s all I’ve got.”
Every PAT visit by our volunteers and their “Love on a Leash” trained and certified therapy dogs is different. We remember one student at MiraCosta College who walked up, almost shouting, “Why are these dogs here?” We told her that they were there for her to pet and relieve stress as she prepared for final exams. She laid down one armload of books to pet one dog. Then the other armload of books to pet another dog. You could literally watch the stress leave her face and shoulders. With a dog on both sides of her, she looked up into the air and said, “I feel so special!” RCHS doesn’t charge for PAT visits. You can’t buy the healing power of animals.
Our ASP is very well known. But when the victims of domestic violence and their pets arrive, it’s a very private matter. There are no signs identifying the ASP pets. A few months ago there was a woman in the kennel area whispering to a dog and crying. She told us that she and her kids and the dog had escaped an abusive home. She had stayed in the relationship for a long time because she couldn’t find any place that would take her and the kids and the dog. But when her dog came here, she and the kids escaped. It had been a couple months. She realized that it would be a long time before she would be able to get her dog back. Rather than letting it sit in the kennels, she came back to surrender it so RCHS could find it a new family. She had been in the kennels telling her dog goodbye, and thanking it for all the times it had protected her. Another totally wow moment.
About a year and a half ago, we watched a man drive into the back lot and park by the entrance to our “Cricket’s Corner Dog Park.” He looked to be 65 to 70 years old and he was still a powerfully built man. He didn’t have a dog, but he got out of his car and went into the dog park anyway. He walked up to the Military Working Dog Memorial located in the dog park. He stood there for a long time, reading the base of the memorial and looking at the granite statue of MWD “Chyba.” He read the engraved memorial bricks. Then he snapped to attention and gave a salute that he held for a long time before heading back to his car. He had tears in his eyes. When he saw that I was watching him he explained, “I’m a veteran. Lost a lot of buddies in Vietnam. Some of them dog handlers. I’ve always heard about this place but I’ve never been here. I’m here to show them some of the respect they deserve.”
So, there’s no single most rewarding part of working here. Every day is an honor.
What can the community do to understand, assist and support RCHS?
We are “Your Rancho Coastal Humane Society.” We are the local shelter. We’re not part of that national organization that runs those terrible fundraising commercials with all the sick and abused animals. And, no, if you donate to them they don’t send your money to RCHS. So maybe the first thing is for people to understand that we’re the “local guys” who have been there for them and their animals for the past 53 years.
We recently had a little girl come in with her mom. She had saved some money and bought some material to make scarves for the dogs. She thought people might like their pictures on the website better if they were wearing scarves. One boy had a birthday party and asked his friends to bring dog and cat food instead of presents for him. He and his parents brought us a load of food that went into the Community Pet Food Bank. We have volunteers who come in to pet the kittens, walk the dogs, and spend time with the rabbits and guinea pigs to help keep them healthy and social. Foster care volunteers take animal into their homes. There are lots of reasons. It could be a new mommy dog or cat with their babies; a pet that needs some quiet time to recover from surgery; babies that need to be bottle fed because they have no mommy. PETCO recently gave us a grant to pay for the pet food we need in our kennels and cattery for the next year.
This is one of our fastest growing fundraising efforts. People are including RCHS in their wills and estate plans. They’re joining the ”Legacy Society” to make sure their support for RCHS and our programs for people and animals continues even after they’re gone.
What role does the Board of Directors play?
The RCHS Board of Directors plays a key role in our strategic planning moving forward with our 3, 5, and 10 year goals as a not for profit. In addition to this, our Board provides valuable knowledge and time in fund development, community outreach, and event planning.
You have 12 staff members. Please share their roles and knowledge they bring to RCHS.
Staff members at RCHS come from all backgrounds but have a shared passion for animals and our programs. A good portion of our staff actually began as volunteers. Backgrounds of our staff range from teachers, former military, law, management, broadcasting, non-profit management and finance. The combined effort of staff knowledge and dedication is reinforced with the amazingly talented and diverse volunteers that dedicate their time to the animals and programs at RCHS.
Has RCHS received any awards, accolades, or recognition?
We always like when we get an extra paw on the back. RCHS has been recognized nationally for our ASP and even had the director of our program on the cover of People Magazine. Other programs that have been spotlighted include our PAT program, whom Supervisor Dave Roberts just proclaimed Sept. 7 as Pet Assisted Therapy Day in San Diego County. Every day we are awarded a smile and compliment when a dog, cat or rabbit is adopted.
[box title=”Rancho Coastal Humane Society” color=”#bea2cd”]
Location: 389 Requeza St., Encinitas, CA 92024
Mission: Rancho Coastal Humane Society (RCHS) was formed in 1960 by a group of hardworking volunteers, led by animal lover Maria K. Lloyd. The goal was and continues to be to care for the homeless animal population of San Diego County and to educate the public about pet over-population and responsible companion animal care.
Social Media: www.facebook.com/rchumane
Hours: Wednesday – Monday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Thrift Shop Location: 120 Aberdeen Dr., Cardiff-By-The-Sea, CA 92007
Thrift Shop Hours: Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.;
Saturday & Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Who’s Who at RCHS
Board of Directors
Michael Berg – Chair
Dawn Danielson, RVT – Vice-Chair
Dean Janis – Secretary
Susan Colross – Treasurer
Allegra L. Pajot
Honorary Board Members:
Pam Slater-Price, Anita Blanchard, Jean Susalla
Chris Ross, DVM
Libby Kovalcik – Kennel Supervisor
Brian Cook – Thrift Shop Manager
Lizzie Hart – Humane Educator
Amy Hefflin – Animal Safehouse Program
Julie Moews, DVM – Veterinarian
Jody Odegard – Bookkeeper
Mary Pilon – Volunteer Coordinator
Kelly Petters – Front Desk Manager
John Van Zante – PR & Marketing Director
Nick Winfrey – Community Liaison
Joyce Younger – Office Manager
Kathy Zerkle – Medical Director