Napa Humane’s Big 3 from 2023
by Wendi Piscia | January 12th, 2024 | 2:53 pm
2023 was definitely one to remember. As Napa Humane celebrated 50 years – half a century! – of caring for animals in our community, we also launched three exciting new programs to serve our local pets. Dog training classes, shelter medicine, and case management for pets of Napa Valley’s unhoused now round out Napa Humane’s preventative work.
These three new initiatives weren’t impulsive moves – each program draws on years of careful consideration and strategic planning by Napa Humane’s Board of Directors and staff. Napa Humane has performed virtually all the spay/neuter surgeries for adoptable dogs, cats and rabbits at the Napa County Animal Shelter for decades. A local veterinary hospital provides most of the shelter’s other veterinary care, but in 2023, Napa Humane stepped up to provide the animals with regular veterinary attention. Under our new Shelter Medicine program, we send a veterinarian to the shelter at least bi-weekly to examine the animals NCAS would like a medical opinion on. These exams may include treating skin issues, ear or eye infections, performing senior pet blood panels, and providing veterinary support and guidance to enhance pet care at the shelter overall.
Behavioral issues are, across the board, the most common reason for euthanizing sheltered dogs, and some estimates suggest that 1.5 million dogs in U.S. shelters are put down each year. In 2023, Napa Humane took a proactive approach to this tragic situation by launching Pet Ed: a whole slate of training and socialization classes for puppies and adolescent dogs. These early education classes aim to help young dogs and their people build healthy behaviors right from the start, and develop deeper, more rewarding relationships that will stand the test of time. We also began offering refresher courses for adult dogs, with specialized classes to focus on life essentials like socialization and coming when called. The response has been terrific, and we look forward to a new season of classes in 2024!
Our third new program of 2023 aims to help some of our most vulnerable local animals: pets of Napa County’s unhoused. Funded by a special grant awarded to Napa County Housing & Homeless Services, this new program provides care support to clients of Napa’s adult emergency shelter and Day Center service program (both run by the non-profit Abode Services). Napa County Housing & Homeless Services asked Napa Humane to manage this program, and we jumped at the opportunity. We hired a part-time Case Manager to work with Abode clients who have pets, helping ensure the animals have access to veterinary care, vaccines, microchipping, spay/neuter, grooming, supplies and training – all with the goal of keeping those beloved pets healthy and with their people. Our furry family members’ unconditional love and company play such an important role in our well-being. We look forward to helping strengthen that bond and the emotional support it provides to the unhoused in our community.
We had more than three big headlines last year, though. Napa Humane’s veterinary scholarship dreams also came to life, thanks to a partnership with Napa Valley Community Foundation. The Dr. Rick Bachman Memorial Veterinary Medicine Scholarship Fund is now live, and accepting applications from current or former residents of Napa County, Solano County, or Lake County. We hope this scholarship empowers many more animal lovers to pursue their veterinary dreams, and help address the ever-worsening vet shortage.
No year-in-review piece would be complete without some inspiring stats on our preventative efforts. In 2023, our Spay/Neuter Clinic in Napa completed surgery on 4033 animals on 242 surgery days – a stunning average of 20 surgeries per day! Our experienced Clinic team runs like a well-oiled machine, and we are so grateful to have them supporting our community with low-cost spay/neuter, vaccinations, and microchipping. Rising veterinary costs and vet shortages have boosted the demand for our subsidized services so much that our Clinic schedule is usually booked out 4 months in advance. Clearly, we are needed.
As we turn the page to 2024, I’m awe-struck by our Napa County community of animal lovers, and how much we have been able to accomplish together. It is hard to imagine a group of people who loves pets more! On behalf of everyone at Napa Humane, thank you for supporting our efforts to care for all the pets in our community – including and especially the most vulnerable. I am so deeply grateful.
~Wendi Piscia, Executive Director