The Santa Monica Animal Shelter is hoping to build on a successful year with recruitment of a volunteers to staff a new non-profit organization supporting the shelter’s work.

The Santa Monica Animal Shelter is a division of the Santa Monica Police Department’s animal control division. The facility usually handles 600-700 domestic animals per year. The vast majority of those are dogs and cats but the shelter does take other kinds of pet-friendly critters. As of this week, the shelter housed 6 dogs, 18 cats, three turtles and six rabbits.

“Recently we encountered a large boa snake in the city,” said Shelter Administrator Alejandro Mendoza. “That was taken out to a rescue group that can take care of that.”

The shelter also houses sick wildlife and Mendoza said about 800 of those animals come through the doors per year. He said wildlife makes its way to the shelter if it becomes a danger to itself or humans or becomes ill.

“Wildlife is things that are typically sick, which is the reason they are being removed,” he said. “We normally don’t remove healthy wildlife from the environment that it’s in.”

Most of the domestic animals in the shelter are strays and the city has relatively few animals relinquished to the shelter by owners.

Mendoza said the first priority for domestic animals picked up as strays is to find their owners and return the pets. He said 213 animals have been reunited with their owners this year.

“Anytime we find a stray animal, our priority is always to get it back to the original owner,” he said.

Animals with a chip showing their owner lives outside the city might be transferred to a shelter closer to the owner to maximize the chance of reuniting owner and pet.

Potential pets that are not reunited are available for adoption. In 2015, the Santa Monica shelter facilitated 350 adoptions. So far in 2016, 290 pets have found new homes.

“We’re just a little bit over the half of the year and we’re projecting to be above last year,” he said.

According to Mendoza, adoption events help spread the word about local pets. While the number of pets that leave the shelter on a specific day might be limited, he said the awareness raised pays off over time.

“From a bigger perspective, it brings out more people to the animal shelter and reminds more people to not shop for an animal but go out and adopt one from a local animal shelter,” he said.

To support the shelter’s continued work, the city is recruiting volunteers to help run a new nonprofit that will fundraise on behalf of the shelter.

Applications for the for Friends of the Santa Monica Animal Shelter are due by Oct. 7.

According to a press release, board members will serve on a voluntary basis to promote fundraising efforts; to acquire valued resources; to ensure the shelter continues to meet the highest quality of care and services to all Santa Monica animals. Responsibilities include participation in public meetings, planning, fundraising and community outreach to promote the Shelter’s mission and programs

Prerequisites for Board Members include:

Live or work in a veterinarian care related field within the City of Santa Monica.

Must be a California resident, prior to appointment

Completion of a background check

Completion of a Santa Monica volunteer orientation, prior to appointment

Participation in SMPD’s Community Academy program within the first year.

Two or three-year Board membership commitment

Potential applicants should submit a letter of interest and resume to: or by mail/in-person to 1640 Ninth Street. Santa Monica, Ca 90404. Application documents will be accepted from now through Oct. 7. Questions regarding the nonprofit can be directed to the Animal Shelter at (310) 458 – 8567 during normal business hours from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday Saturday.




Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...