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  • Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine

Napa Humane - Where Compassion Lives

Humane societies are a little like astrophysicists – their day-to-day work is typically pretty mysterious to anyone outside the industry. But Napa Humane wants locals to peek behind the curtain, and find out what they actually do to advance their mission of “promoting the welfare of companion animals through protection, advocacy, education, and by example.”

Big-Picture Strategy: Prevention is the Solution

Napa Humane was founded in 1973 as the Humane Society of Napa County/SPCA. For years it operated its own animal shelter, and a spay/neuter clinic in the City of Napa. But in 2001 when their shelter had to be razed to make room for the flood project, Napa Humane’s Board made a sound and strategic decision to switch their focus entirely to bigger picture programming. Because animals reproduce exponentially, the world will never be able to build enough shelters for all the unwanted animals being born each day. Spay/neuter is the only approach that can make a real difference on a larger scale.

Instead of spending time and money on “band-aid” solutions to the problem, Napa Humane would focus on preventing pet suffering and homelessness in the first place.

Today, Napa Humane’s Clinic on California Boulevard in the City of Napa provides high-quality preventative care at subsidized prices, covering as much of the cost as possible through private donations. Open Monday through Friday, the Clinic offers surgeries for local dogs, cats, and rabbits at dramatically under-market fees. The Clinic’s staff veterinarian and vet techs also perform all the spay/neuter services for the County Animal Shelter and many local rescue groups, to help them keep adoption fees low.

In addition to helping Napa County’s companion animals, the Clinic provides resources to help manage our feral cats – which Napa Humane calls “community cats,” because the community ultimately is responsible for their treatment. Free loaner traps and special spay/neuter pricing are available to make it easier for residents to control the cat colonies in their neighborhood.

The goal of the Clinic is to ensure every companion animal is a wanted one, with a healthy, loving home. The Clinic also hosts a low-cost vaccination and microchipping clinic every Friday, to help ward off preventable diseases and maximize pets’ chances of finding their way home if they are ever lost.

As with so many other things in life, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Raising Kind Kids: Humane Education

But Napa Humane doesn’t just run a spay/neuter clinic with vaccinations and microchipping. Their Humane Education programs in local elementary schools are another essential part of their mission to promote compassion, responsibility, and loving bonds between pets and their humans.

There is a clearly established link between childhood cruelty to animals and later criminality, violence, and antisocial behavior. Learning compassion and empathy from an early age can help break this cycle and replace it with one of kindness and personal responsibility. In addition, teaching kids how to respect animals and read their body language reduces the likelihood of being bitten or injured by their pets – which in turn helps keep pets with their families.

During the 2017-2018 school year, Napa Humane taught 1,920 elementary school students in 75 Napa County classrooms how to be safe around pets. The children learned how to read animal body language as well as situations, developing empathy and compassion for other living creatures who have fears and jealousies just like them. These presentations (and the Kind News magazines they give to every Napa County elementary school each year) help teach children the values and skills that cultivate safe, healthy relationships with their pets, as well as their fellow humans.

Supporting A Healthy

and Humane Napa Valley

Napa Humane’s holistic approach to animal welfare includes a number of other important programs. There are periodic bilingual Wellness Clinics for low-income Spanish-speaking residents to bring their pets for free veterinary checkups, preventative care, and essential pet supplies. And all year round, Napa Humane’s telephone helpline and website offer a wealth of free information and referrals about pet health, care, and behavior.

And then, there’s Napa Humane’s disaster relief. When the fires hit last October, Napa Humane suspended their spay/neuter operations and redeployed staff and resources entirely to the fire response efforts. During that long first week of devastation and uncertainty, they worked hand in glove with Napa Valley’s first responders, community organizations, and the veterinary community as a whole.

They helped set up the City of Napa’s emergency animal shelter, transported animals as needed to manage the available evacuation spaces, and provided free veterinary rounds and flea control to pets taking refuge at the shelters. Their telephone hotline and social media account provided current, daily-updated information to the public about pet-related resources and volunteering needs throughout the crisis. They hosted evacuated animals at the Clinic, and provided free spay/neuter, vaccines, flea control, and microchipping to people affected by the fires.

Napa Humane also provided financial support to many fire victims and Good Samaritans who rescued animals from the blaze, paying for the cost of needed veterinary care. One example is Suzanne and John Fouts of Mountain Home Ranch, who lost their historic B&B in Calistoga: Napa Humane covered the vet bills for their cat and dog, and helped re-fence their property so their herd of rescue horses could stay safely on the property.

How Do They Do It?

Everything Napa Humane does is entirely supported by private donations; they accept no government funding. They welcome individual and corporate sponsorships of specific programs – for example, underwriting a Wellness Clinic, surgery day, Humane Education classroom presentations, or the cost of vaccines for a month – as well as general donations or matching challenges. Napa Humane also always welcomes volunteers willing to give time and/or skills to help in this life-saving work.

Napa Humane’s annual fundraising event, the Walk for Animals, typically brings hundreds of participants and their pets to the Oxbow Commons and Napa Riverfront the first Sunday in August for family-friendly, animal-loving fun. Pictures from this year’s event and information for 2019 are available on Napa Humane’s website,

So now you know the secrets of Napa’s small but mighty humane society. If you’re looking for a nonprofit with a big-picture vision and proactive, solution-based programming, the search is over.

3265 California Blvd., Napa



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