Frequently Asked Questions

   Looking to learn more about Santa Cruz SPCA adoptions, humane education programs, activities, or policies?  Curious about how you can support our mission — and be part of our future — as a volunteer or donor?  

Explore answers to frequently asked questions here.

Adopt FAQs

How long does the adoption process take?

The adoption process time frame will vary, applicant to applicant. Once the pre-adoption procedures are final, and the adoption is being processed, the paperwork and counseling that follows will take about 30-45 minutes.

Can I adopt more than one animal at a time?

With both the adopters’ and animals’ best interests in mind, there are certain instances where we will or will not adopt out more than one animal to the same home at the same time. Read the specific scenarios below to find out when and why:


Two Bonded Adults: When a pair of bonded adult dogs comes into our care, we often do our best to find them homes where they can stay together. In fact, sometimes it is a requirement.

Two Non-bonded Adults: We often counsel against simultaneous adoption of two adult dogs that are not bonded. Bringing one new dog into a home can be a challenge; it takes time and training to get a new canine family member settled and acclimated. When you try to do this with two dogs at the same time — particularly when those dogs don’t know each other — it can be twice as difficult. We usually recommend you devote time and attention to getting one new companion settled into your home. Then come back for a second dog at a later time. However, we will make final adoption decisions for matters like these on a case-by-case basis.

Two Puppies: We counsel against adopting two puppies at the same time. Puppies are a challenge to train when they’re together (imagine two friends in the same classroom who won’t pay attention); working with two at once can prove to be an extremely difficult endeavor. Also, puppies that grow up with a sibling may become extremely attached to one another and not bond as well with the human family OR they can develop a sibling rivalry and become aggressive to one another. If you are looking to ultimately have two dogs, we recommend you adopt one puppy, invest a few months of training in him or her, and then come back for a second puppy at a later time.


Two Bonded Adults: When a pair of bonded adult cats comes into our care, we often do our best to find them homes where they can stay together. In fact, sometimes it is a requirement.

Two Non-bonded Adults: We often counsel against simultaneous adoption of two adult cats that are not bonded. Bringing one new cat into a home can be a challenge; it takes time and training to get a new feline family member settled and acclimated. When you try to do this with two cats at the same time — particularly when those cats don’t know each other — it can be twice as difficult. We usually recommend you devote time and attention to getting one new companion settled into your new home. Then come back for a second cat at a later time. However, we will make final adoption decisions for matters like these on a case-by-case basis.

Two Kittens: Interested in adopting two kittens at once? We’re all for it! Kittens often thrive when kept together and generally develop a healthy relationship with one another as adults and have no less of a bond with their human family members. Two kittens keep each other company when left alone and burn off excess energy during kitty-on-kitty play.

Your adoption fees are expensive. Do you ever offer discounts or specials?

Our adoption fees help recoup the costs we incur while preparing animals for adoption (spay/neuter, vaccinations, microchipping, deworm/de-flea, etc.). Ultimately, you’ll find that these fees are MUCH less than what you might pay for a free animal in need of spay/neuter, vaccines, micro-chipping, etc. We do not profit from adoption fees; they simply go back into the funds used to prepare and care for more animals before they are adopted out.

Aside from the Dr Jean’s Senior Friends program, we are unable to offer discounts or specials on our adoption fees. We are a private, non-profit organization without a veterinarian on staff and, because we use private vets for most of our medical care needs, our costs for preparing animals for adoption are much higher than municipal or public shelters, which often employ an entire vet staff.

I live out of state, do you do adoptions to people outside of California?

We generally aim to adopt our animals into homes inside the state of California. However, in certain situations, we have been known to adopt animals into homes located in surrounding states that share borders with California. Because a very important clause in our adoption contract states that animals adopted from the SCSPCA shall be returned to the SCSPCA if they are unable to stay in their adopted homes for any reason, we want to make it feasible for animals to return to us. Placing an animal into a home at a geographical distance eliminates this possibility.

Do you have a return policy if the animal I adopt doesn’t work out?

We hope that all adopters will take their time and exhaust all other options before making the decision to return an animal. However, we will ALWAYS accept animals that have been adopted from us back into our care, no matter the reason or the timeframe. Please note that adoption fees are non-refundable.

Do you put holds on animals?

When an adopter has met an animal and submitted an approved application, it’s possible to place a 24-hour hold on that animal. We do not collect a hold fee.

Do you guarantee the health of the animal I adopt?

While we do our best to adopt out healthy animals or make adopters aware of known conditions or concerns, we do not guarantee the health of any animal.

What do I do if the animal I adopt becomes sick shortly after adoption?

As soon as the adoption is finalized, the animal and its care become the responsibility of the adopter, whether or not the health issue could have begun or occurred while in our care. We do our best to notice and treat symptoms of illness, but sometime illnesses can go undetected because of incubation periods during which an animal will look and seem healthy. We encourage adopters to purchase pet insurance or apply for care credit, in case unforeseen medical expenses do occur. We also appreciate notification if animals adopted from us begin to show symptoms of illness so that proper precautions can be taken with our current population.

Why do you require all family members to meet the animal I’m adopting?

It’s important that everyone who will be living with the animal be in agreement with the decision to adopt and with the animal that has been selected for adoption. It is also important that the animal selected responds well to everyone living in the home. Animals can react in different ways to different people, so having them meet all of the people currently living in the home, no matter their role, is a helpful part of ensuring a good match for the household.

Do you know the history of the animals that come to you?

More often than not, we have very little background information on the animals that come into our care. Many animals come to us from other shelters, which took them in as strays. Even when an animal is surrendered by its owner, unless it was surrendered directly to us, we rarely receive information about the animal from the previous owner due to privacy laws. When an owner does surrender a dog directly to our organization, we are happy to share everything we know about the animal’s noted behaviors, health, and previous living situation. We cannot, however, give any personal information from the previous owner.

I’ve heard you offer a foster-to-adopt program. How does that work?

A foster-to-adopt is a short “trial period” where a potential adopter takes an animal home for an agreed-upon foster period with the intent to adopt if the animal proves to be a good match for their family. Although foster-to-adopt is an extremely helpful tool for ensuring a lasting match, this program is offered on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the adoption specialist.

Ways To Give FAQs

Donation FAQs
Volunteer FAQs
Foster FAQs


Donation FAQs

I want to make a donation but I don’t want my name or information to be bought or sold in any way. How can I make sure that does not happen?

The Santa Cruz SPCA will never sell, share, or trade donor lists containing personal information, including names, email addresses, mailing addresses, or phone numbers, with any non-affiliated organization for their own purposes, unless donors have given us specific permission to do so. Review our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service for more information.

How do I donate to a specific fund or purpose?

If you are making a donation online, there will be a field within the form where you can select from some of our most popular funds. If you do not see the fund or purpose for which you would like to donate, simply add a note in the message field letting us know the specific purpose of your donation. If you are making your donation by phone, be sure to let the SCSPCA representative know to which fund your donation should be designated. If you are making your donation by check, simply add the fund or purpose to the memo section.

I signed up as a Constant Companion, providing automatic monthly contributions, but I need to make changes to my account. How can I do that?

Any changes to your monthly account — for example, your personal information, credit card information, or donation amount — should be made in-person or over the phone with one of our representatives. We are located at 2601 Chanticleer Avenue in Santa Cruz and can be reached at 831-465-5000.

I don’t like making donations online. Are there other ways I can make a monetary donation?

Although our online donation portal is highly protected, we understand your reservations. That’s why we gladly accept donations by phone, in person, or by mail. We are located at 2601 Chanticleer Avenue in Santa Cruz and can be reached at 831-465-5000. Our mailing address is P.O. Box 3800, Santa Cruz, CA 95063.

I donate to the ASPCA. The Santa Cruz SPCA gets some of that support, right?

No! The ASPCA is an independent national organization. Neither the Santa Cruz SPCA, nor any other SPCA is affiliated with or funded by the ASPCA. The only way that we benefit from your generosity is if you donate directly to us — the Santa Cruz SPCA.


Volunteer FAQs

My child is under 16. Can they come with me to volunteer if I am there to supervise?

Due to the nature of the work we do as well as strict insurance and liability issues, we are unable to have volunteers under the age of 16 performing general volunteer duties — even with a parent supervisor. However, we do offer a few youth volunteer programs designed specifically for younger animal lovers.

Do I have to buy a volunteer bundle?

We require each volunteer to purchase a volunteer bundle, which includes a name tag and apron, and ask that each volunteer wear it during any volunteer time. These apron/name tag combos play the important role of identifying our volunteers to the visiting public as well as to staff members. The apron also helps protect clothing, and the pockets allow a place to store shelter necessities such as leashes, treats, and potty bags.

I’m already a volunteer at the Santa Cruz Animal Shelter. Do I still need to go through the orientation process with you?

Because we are two separate organizations with very different environments, policies, and procedures, it’s important that any new volunteer complete our orientation process regardless of prior shelter experience.

Do I need to stick to a set volunteer schedule or can I just come when I want?

While it’s helpful to anticipate the help of volunteers, we do not require you to keep a set schedule. Of course, within our volunteer management system (Volgistics), you are given the opportunity to self-select a schedule if you’d like. Otherwise you are welcome to volunteer any time during our open hours.

What’s the earliest I can come to volunteer and what’s the latest I can stay?

Volunteers typically lend us their time between the hours of 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.. However, we can usually accommodate animal care volunteers as early as 9 a.m. if scheduled with staff.

Can I still volunteer when you’re closed on Mondays and holidays?

Yes! Even when we are closed, staff and animals are here and would LOVE volunteer help. Duties and hours would generally be the same as for any normal day of business.

I was a volunteer with the SCSPCA a long time ago but have not been in to help in a while. Can I just come back and start up again?

Things are always changing, so we ask that any volunteer who has been inactive for 6-plus months come in for a refresher “activation” day before resuming volunteer work with us. However, you are not required to attend another orientation. To schedule a refresher activation, call our offices (831) 465-5000 for a list of available dates and times.

If I can’t make the orientation dates or if the orientation is full, what do I do?

To accommodate more people, we have recently added a second orientation each month. However, we are unable to change or add to these dates. If you aren’t able to make the orientation dates or the orientation is full, you will need to wait for the next available date.

I need to fulfill court-ordered community service. Can I do that with the SCSPCA?

We welcome most court-ordered community service with proper documentation. However, we cannot accept community service hours for violations involving: theft, drugs, acts of violence, forgery, sexual offenses, or crimes involving weapons.


Foster FAQs

How do I become a foster?

Becoming a foster starts with filling out our online foster application. Shortly after you’ve completed this application, you will receive an email from an SCSPCA foster representative welcoming you to the foster program, providing you with our foster care handbook, and inviting you to attend a volunteer orientation. You will then register for, and attend, a volunteer orientation in order to learn more about our organization as well as the foster program and current opportunities. After both an application is submitted/approved and an orientation attended, your information will be added to our foster list and you will become eligible for fostering animals!

Once I’ve become a foster, how do I go about fostering my first animal(s)?

Depending on the type of fostering you are interested in, you will be notified via email about current foster opportunities. If you see a foster opportunity that interests you, please call our foster team to talk over the details. If you are interested in “Slumber Party” fostering, you are welcome to come to the shelter to select an overnight guest between 5-6pm any day of the week. Slumber Party foster animals must be returned to the shelter the next day at 11am.

How long will I need to care for my foster animal(s)?

Every foster situation is a bit different and can vary in length. Before you take on a foster, we will do our best to make sure you are aware of the expected time period.

What supplies do I need to provide and what will the SCSPCA provide?

We will do our best to provide you with all of the materials you may need for the complete foster period. This includes food, bedding, potty pads, crate/x-pen enclosure, bowls, and anything else you may need. Replenishments of any supplies can be picked up at the shelter when/if needed. We do not supply toys for puppies as we can’t guarantee the complete sterilization of any shelter item. However, you are welcome to purchase toys if you like. We ask that you don’t provide puppies with edible chew toys, such as raw hides, greenies, or bones, as they are a choking hazard and can often lead to stomach upset.

What should I do if my foster animal becomes ill?

If your foster animal(s) begin to show concerning behavior or symptoms, please contact us immediately to discuss the next steps. We ask that you do not take them to a vet without authorization unless you find yourself dealing with an immediate and life-threatening situation. We can treat many common maladies from within the shelter, and if the problem requires vet attention, we will make an appointment with our contracted vet.

What if I find myself unable to complete my foster care commitment?

While we hope you will do everything you can to honor your commitment, we know that things happen and life can change quickly. We ask that you notify us as soon as you are aware that you can no longer keep your foster animals so that we can get to work on finding another person to take over.

How can I help generate adoption interest in my foster and can I choose the home(s)?

You are very welcome to talk to family and friends about your foster animal, and if they are fully vaccinated, we encourage you to take them out and about wearing “Adopt Me” gear. You may share pictures of your foster animal on your social media outlets, but please avoid advertising them on classified websites like Craigslist. We ask that you avoid promising or guaranteeing adoption to anyone. We have important adoption procedures and an application process that is specially designed to ensure proper placement. We ask that you refer any adoption interest to our adoption staff.

Can I take my foster animal outside or away from home?

While we ask that your foster animal’s main environment be inside your home, fully vaccinated adult dogs enjoy time outdoors and are often adopted sooner if they are taken out into the community. All foster animals must be leashed at all times when outdoors. Due to outdoor risks, all foster cats must be indoor-only. Foster animals must remain inside the county of Santa Cruz unless authorized by SCSPCA foster staff.

Foster puppies and kittens are un-vaccinated and extremely susceptible to serious illness found in the outdoor environment, especially where other animals have been. They are also known to ingest things that can be harmful and even deadly. For this reason, we ask that puppies and/or kittens are kept indoors and that they stay in your own home.

Can I socialize my foster with other animals?

As long as your foster animal is social, you are welcome to introduce them to other social animals. Please avoid taking your foster animal to off-leash dog parks or off-leash dog beaches, and use caution in unknown situations.

Because puppies and kittens are un-vaccinated and susceptible to diseases that even healthy adult animals can carry, we ask that you do not socialize them with other pets. If you currently have another dog or cat in the home that is up to date on all vaccinations, the risk is far less. While we hope the puppies and/or kittens are separated from other animals for the most part, some interaction with your own animals is ok.

Can I adopt one of my foster puppies at the end of the foster period?

If after the foster period you are interested in adopting your foster, you are more than welcome to move toward adoption. You would be asked to fill out an adoption application and complete any other procedures needed.

Since I am a foster, is there a discount to the adoption fee?

While we are extremely thankful to you as a foster for providing this vital and life-saving volunteer service for us, adoption fees cannot be waived or discounted. We do not generate profit from adoption fees, they merely help to recoup what is spent on preparing the animal for adoption (exam, vaccines, spay/neuter, micro-chip, deworm, etc.)

Can I keep my foster animal at my home once the foster period is over and adopt them out from there?

We understand that the significant amount of time spent caring for your foster animal often creates a strong bond and emotional attachment, making it difficult to bring them back to the shelter when it’s time. However, it’s imperative that your foster animal(s) return to the SCSPCA at the designated time and are adopted out from the shelter.

Can I name my foster animal?

Most adult foster animals already have names that they should keep while they are still owned by the SCSPCA. However, puppy and kitten foster families are often encouraged to name their “yet-to-be-named” foster animals! It is helpful to name them all using the same first letter or name them in a theme (for example: fish types, candy types, flower types etc.).

Community Programs FAQs

Summer/WinterCamp FAQs
P.A.W.S Junior Volunteer FAQs
Community Service Saturdays FAQs
Rescue Readers FAQs
Dr Jean’s Fund FAQs
Heather’s Pet Food Pantry FAQs


Summer/Winter Camp FAQs

What time should I arrive? 

Camp runs from Monday through Friday, from 9:00am to 3:00pm on site at our new shelter, 2601 Chanticleer Ave. Please arrive no earlier than 8:50 am and plan to be picked up no later than 3:10 pm. It is very important that campers be picked up on time because we do not have  facilities or staff to supervise children after camp is over. 

Do I need to be there every day? 

We hope so! Some camp activities will build on ones from previous days, so you might miss out on something  important if you miss too much time. If you need to miss a day, just let us know. 

What will we do during the week? 

We’ll learn about many different kinds of animals and how to care for them, at home and in the wild!. We will do a variety of activities, crafts, and games that will not only be fun, but many will also directly benefit shelter animals. We will also have quite a few interesting guest speakers, many of whom will have different kinds of animals accompanying them. This is a  humane education camp aimed at teaching campers the importance of all life and how they can contribute to the well-being of animals and the environment in our local area. 

Will we get to meet any real animals? 

Yes! You will certainly meet and handle cats and dogs, and you will meet many other types of animals, like rabbits and chickens. You will get a chance to hang out with the animals from the SPCA as well as visiting with animals  brought by presenters and give them some TLC (Tender Loving Care). You will also be able to advocate for SPCA  animals and help them find homes.  

What should I bring with me? 

Bring a lunch, snacks and something to drink every day. We do not provide any snacks during camp. We suggest  bringing a water bottle that you can refill if you get thirsty. As it will be summertime and quite warm, we also suggest hats, sunglasses and sunblock to protect from the sun as we will be both indoors and outdoors. If you need to have medications with you during camp, please let us know. 

What should I wear? 

You should wear comfortable clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. You never know when a dog will drool on  you or a cat will shed some fur on your shirt. Please wear closed toe shoes as well. We ask that campers wear a mask at all times.

Will I be caring for any animals during Camp? 

We may be “caring” for animals that are staying with us during the week of camp. The “caring” can include  socializing, training, feeding, cleaning up poop/pee etc. We will not be cleaning cages, doing laundry or anything of that nature. 

What things are not allowed at Camp? 

For the safety of the animals as well as campers, please do not wear long-hanging jewelry. No games (including video, hand-held or electronic devices) or other valuable belongings should be brought. Cell phones must be on  “vibrate” during camp sessions unless approved by education staff. Please consider labeling any  personal belongings your child will be bringing. Santa Cruz SPCA is not responsible for lost articles.

P.A.W.S Junior Volunteer FAQs

How old does a child have to be to participate?

We welcome students ages 7 through 12, grouped by their age range. The ranges are as follows:

  • Junior P.A.W.S – 7 yrs to 9 yrs
  • Pre-Teen P.A.W.S – 9 yrs to 12 yrs

How often does P.A.W.S meet?

There is a new session of P.A.W.S each month. We meet for three after school sessions a month.

Can my child come any day of the week?

We have each age group meet on a different day of the week. They are as follows:

  • Junior P.A.W.S – Tuesday from 4pm – 6pm
  • Pre-Teen P.A.W.S – Thursday from 4pm – 6pm

Do I need to accompany my child?

No, it is a drop-off program where students work alongside our education staff.

Is it hands on with the animals?

Yes, students will be working hands on with both cats and dogs.

What should my child wear to the session?

For safety reasons, we ask that all students wear long pants and closed toed shoes as well as clothes they don’t mind getting dirty while here working with the animals.

What if my child has no prior animal experience?

That’s ok! Each new session has an orientation on the first day where we go over safety and handling. Students work with kid-safe animals and are always being supervised by an adult.

Can my child sign up for more than one session?

To allow the for the most students to have the opportunity to benefit from the program we ask that families only sign up for one month at a time at least during initial registration.  If there are more open sessions after the initial registration rush an  additional month should be no problem.

Will this count toward Community Service Hours?

We would be happy to sign off on community service hours per session as long as the student brings along the appropriate paperwork from the school. We also have another youth volunteer program (Community Service Saturdays) that occur on the last Saturday of every month.

How do I sign up for P.A.W.S?

To sign up for P.A.W.S, visit the Youth Volunteer tab of our Humane Education page.

Parents will be sent a waiver to fill out and either send back or bring in on the first day of program.

Community Service Saturday FAQs

How old does my child need to be to participate?

These sessions are geared toward middle and high school students in need of community service hours. 

How often do you meet?

Community Service Saturdays happen one Saturday a month, usually the last Saturday, from 10am to 12pm or 1pm to 3pm.

Do I need to accompany my child?

No, it is a drop off program where students work alongside our education staff.

Is the program hands on with the animals?

The first half of each session is devoted to project-based work around the shelter, such as: organizing, cleaning, weeding, etc. The latter half is devoted to hands-on time with both cats and dogs at our shelter.

What should my child wear to the session?

For safety reasons, we ask that all students wear long pants and closed toed shoes as well as clothing they don’t mind getting dirty while here working with the animals.

What do they need to bring with them?

We recommend that students bring a jacket, a water bottle, and a lunch or snack. We also ask that they bring along any paperwork that they need signed for their community service hours.

What if my child has no prior animal experience?

That’s ok! Each new session has an orientation on the first day where we go over safety and handling. Students work with kid-safe animals and are always being supervised by an adult.

Can my child sign up for more than one session?

Yes. We have quite a few repeat Community Service Saturday students who get to work on their animal handling skills each time they come.

How do I sign up for Community Service Saturday?

To register for Community Service Saturdays, visit the Youth Volunteer tab of our Humane Education page. 

Rescue Readers FAQs

How old do you need to be to read to the animals?

The Rescue Readers program is geared toward primary and secondary students in Pre-K through 8th grade.

Do students need to come with a school group?

No, we take individuals as long as they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.

What is the largest school group you can take?

In our current facilities, we can take up to 10 students. However, we can also come out to your school with our education dogs to accommodate a larger group.

Will they be reading to animals in cages?

We try to have children reading in a separate open space where the dogs and cats can get comfortable and ready to listen.

Can they read to both cats and dogs?

When children visit our shelter to read, they can read to both cats and dogs in our care. When we come out to classrooms, we can only bring education dogs with us. As you can probably imagine, the transportation of cats to a new environment is rather scary, so they stay at the shelter.

Can they read to any animal they want?

So that both the children and the animal(s) can get the most out of the interaction, we typically choose who they will be reading to.

Why do you offer this reading program?

We hope to provide our animals with some comforting companionship while at the same time help students in our community to become better readers. The animals are non-judgmental listeners who allow students to practice as much as needed. The cuddle time with our shelter animals or education dogs is just an added bonus that also teaches students about the wonderful animals waiting in our shelter for homes!

How long are the reading sessions?

The reading session lasts 30 minutes  Sometimes our readers will bring one book and sometimes they will bring many!

Do they need to bring their own books?

We encourage you to bring your own reading material that is at the appropriate reading level. However, if you need books for reading, let us know and we can provide them.

How do I sign up for Rescue Readers?

To register for Rescue Readers, please contact our education department or call 831-566-3753.


Dr Jean’s Fund FAQs

How do I apply to receive assistance from Dr Jean’s Fund?

If you are a senior pet owner, aged 62 years or older and live on a fixed income, you may be eligible to receive assistance from either Dr Jean’s Fund Veterinary Care OR attend one of Dr Jean’s Fund twice annual preventative care clinics.

To apply for the Veterinary Care fund, please print and fill out the Dr Jean’s Fund Veterinary Care Application and Dr Jean’s Fund Veterinary Care Contract, make a copy of your Driver’s License or ID, as well as proof of income (bank statement, SSI stub, etc.) and email all documents or mail them to Mandi Hart, 2685 Chanticleer Ave. Santa Cruz, CA 95065

To receive assistance from the Dr Jean’s Fund Wellness Day clinics, simply call Mandi Hart at 831-465-5000 and make an appointment. (Upcoming Wellness Day clinics will be listed on our Events page when scheduled)

Once I’ve applied for assistance, how long until I hear back?

On average, you should hear back within one week of application submittal as to whether your application has been accepted or denied. Unfortunately, we are not able to accept every application that comes to us due to limited funding. Our decisions are based on the severity of the pet’s illness(es) and the likelihood of a positive outcome.

What kind of medical care does Dr Jean’s Fund cover?

Dr Jean’s Fund Veterinary Care is designed to assist in the costs associated with the diagnostics and treatment of injury or illness. This part of the fund does not cover the costs associated with general preventative care (annual vaccines, deworming, flea treatment, general dental cleanings etc.).

Dr Jean’s Fund Wellness Day clinics are held twice a year and are designed to assist pet owners with the administration of basic medical exams and preventative medicine, such as annual vaccines, flea preventative, deworming, nail trimming, anal gland care, and microchipping. These clinics do not address diagnostics or administer treatment for injury or illness.

Can I choose the vet?

Dr Jean’s Fund clients must use the veterinarian contracted by the SCSPCA. These veterinarians have agreed to discounted pricing which will allow the $500 limit to go further!  All appointments associated with the initial application will be made by SCSPCA staff, however, we will work hard to make sure appointments work well with the applicant’s schedule.

What if the care costs more than the $500 limit?

Our partner veterinarians work hard to keep the cost of necessary diagnostics and treatment to a minimum, but there are times when the quoted cost of treatment exceeds $500. It is important for the applicant to understand that the SCSPCA can only commit to the $500 limit and will be unable to cover anything above that amount. If the applicant chooses to move forward with a more expensive procedure or treatment, the remaining balance is their responsibility and must be paid prior to retrieval of the animal.


Heather’s Pet Food Pantry FAQs

How do I take advantage of Heather’s Pet Food Pantry?

Any pet owner who is in need of assistance with providing healthy food for their dog or cat is welcome to come to the SCSPCA for help! 

How much pet food will I get?

You will receive one week’s worth of dog or cat food, or both! 

What brand is it?

We provide a variety of brands that are ever changing. The brands and variety of pet food that we have will vary week to week.

I feed feral cats, can I pick up food for this?

This resource is for owned pets only. We do not provide food for the feeding of feral colonies.

I am picking up food for a friend, is that okay?

If you are picking up food on behalf of someone else but are not picking up food for yourself as well, we can allow you to do this. However, if you are also picking up food for yourself, we must limit the amount of times we give you double the food rations, as it can seem unfair to others.

Do you give away anything other than food?

You may also notice a table of used dog and cat supplies that you are welcome to take!

What if my pet doesn’t like the food you’ve given me?

Please bring the food back the following Friday and the attendant will give you a different type of food to try the next time around.

What if my pet has an allergy or special diet requirement?

While we can’t always accommodate special diets or consistency each week, you can let the food pantry attendant know what your pet’s needs are, and if possible, we will do our best to accommodate!


Resources FAQs

What is a microchip?

A microchip is a small RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) device, not much bigger than a large grain of rice, which veterinarians can implant into many different types of pets— from reptiles and birds to cats and dogs. The microchip carries a unique ID number linked to the owner’s contact information that when read by a microchip scanner can quickly and easily shed light onto where the pet belongs. Microchips are NOT tracking devices. The procedure to implant a microchip is quick, easy, and relatively painless, similar to a vaccine injection; the chip is placed under the skin between the animal’s shoulder blades. It’s a permanent form of ID that lasts for the life of the animal. The Santa Cruz SPCA makes sure that every animal adopted out is microchipped.

Why should I microchip my pet?

More than three million cats and dogs are euthanized at animal shelters around the United States each year. A large percentage of these animals enter shelters as strays and are not claimed in time. While collars and tags come off (or are not put on in the first place), microchips are forever, and they can be a ticket to life if your animal ends up in a shelter. If every dog and cat were microchipped, we would see a drastic drop in euthanasia rates — and many more emotional reunions. Microchipping is one solid solution for making sure your pet is returned to you if ever lost.

How can I get my pet microchipped?

Most veterinarians, some shelters, and many low-cost vaccine clinics offer this service for a nominal fee. The cost of this procedure can be anywhere from $20-$50 and some microchip companies charge a registration fee.

What if my pet came with a microchip from a previous owner?

If you adopt or acquire an animal that is already microchipped, it’s important to connect your contact information with the animal’s chip. Otherwise, a past owner’s information or no information at all will show up when the chip is checked, and the microchip will do you and your pet no good at all. If your pet comes to you with a microchip, take your pet to a vet or shelter for a quick scan. You may also be able to find out the brand of the chip based on the chip number. From there, contact the chip company (contact information can easily be found by googling the company name) and complete the “change of ownership” procedure.

About Us FAQs

Are you a “no-kill” shelter?

The Santa Cruz SPCA does not use terminology such as “no kill” to describe our own work or the work of other shelters and rescues. Although the SCSPCA will not euthanize any animal for space or time, in circumstances that affect critical quality of life for the animals or grave danger to the public, we will provide a thorough and thoughtful process to determine if we should assist any animal with end of life options. The term “no-kill” tends to carry a divisive connotation, especially among agencies who lack space or funding, or whose communities are inundated with unwanted animals. By assisting those shelters and rescues, in many areas of the county and beyond, the Santa Cruz SPCA ensures that many dogs and cats receive a second chance. We often take in animals that need more time to find a well-matched home, more training opportunities, more behavior assessment and care, and/or additional medical care beyond regular health concerns.

Are all SPCAs and Humane Societies related?

The short answer is ”no.” Did you know that Humane Society and SPCA are just generic descriptive terms, like the word “bank” is in the names US Bank and Bank of America? All humane societies and SPCAs are independent organizations, not connected to each other. It can be confusing! Many people even mistakenly think that the Humane Society of the United States runs all humane societies or that the ASPCA is the mothership for every SPCA. They do not and are not. They are separate and unique entities as well.

While many animal agencies do similar work and provide comparable programs, they often have subtle yet important differences in their focus and scope. Additionally, some humane societies and SPCAs are non-profit organizations that rely on donations, while others hold animal control contracts with the cities or counties around them and are funded through taxpayer dollars. It’s very common to have one of each located in the same city or county, who when working together, can ensure a more humane community.

Are you different from the shelter on 7th Avenue?

Yes! The shelter on 7th Avenue is called the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter. They also have a sister location in Watsonville on Freedom Blvd. People often refer to this shelter as “the SPCA” because, historically, the Santa Cruz SPCA was located in the same location. However, over the years, much has changed and there are now two different animal sheltering organizations in Santa Cruz: The Santa Cruz SPCA and the Santa Cruz Animal Shelter.

The first big difference is how we are funded:

The Santa Cruz SPCA is a private, non-profit organization supported solely by individual contributions, grants, bequests, investments, and proceeds from our retail store. We receive no public funding.

The Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter is publicly funded and operated by the county of Santa Cruz. While they do receive public funding, they also accept donations in order to support many of their programs and services.

The second big difference is what we do:

The Santa Cruz SPCA focuses on rescue, adoption, humane education, and community assistance. We offer a unique sheltering environment for unwanted, abused, neglected, and/or orphaned animals, often taking on those in need of socialization, training, medical care, or simply more time. We place a high priority on providing the community with comprehensive humane education programs for both adults and youth, assistance to low income seniors with veterinary care, and a free food bank available to anyone who needs help feeding their companions – just to name a few special services and programs.

The Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter is tasked primarily with animal control and animal law enforcement, which includes the handling of licensing, lost/found animals, animal abuse, cruelty, and animal related complaints. They employ animal control officers who patrol the county and manage investigations. They also offer important public programming for low cost spay/neuter, adoption, microchipping, education, and more.

Here’s how we work together:

Santa Cruz is lucky to have two animal welfare agencies working hard and working together. The Santa Cruz SPCA and Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter not only join forces when it comes to the care and adoption of animals, but our two organizations also run complimentary humane education and community programs. Where one isn’t, the other is – and vice versa – and when both are needed, we stand together.

Where do you get your animals?

The animals we care for come to us from a variety of sources. The Santa Cruz SPCA takes in animals as owner surrenders when people are no longer able to care for them. We also assist other shelters, locally and beyond, by taking in animals when those shelters reach capacity and desperately need space. Per our adoption policy, we will always accept any animal that was previously adopted from us, no matter the length of time that has passed.

Why do you take animals from outside the county?

While our own county is always our priority, our mission has no borders or city limits. When we have the space and our local shelter is taken care of, we will come to the aid of many other shelters, most of which are in areas where over-crowding occurs on a daily basis.

Who runs your organization?

The animals generally run the show! However, the Santa Cruz SPCA is governed by a Board of Directors along with its Executive Director.

Are all of the staff volunteers?

While we rely heavily on volunteers to complete the work we do, we also employ a small group of paid staff members who wear many hats and work tirelessly for the animals.

Still have a question? Contact us.

Shelter Location

2601 Chanticleer Ave.

Santa Cruz, CA 95065

(P) 831-465-5000 (F) 831-479-8530


Hours of Operation

Mon & Tues - CLOSED

Animal Browsing Wed to Sun 11am - 5pm

*PET FOOD PANTRY - Sundays 1:00pm - 3:00pm

The Santa Cruz SPCA is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the welfare of animals. We receive no government funding, and depend solely on financial support from our friends. Our organization is not affiliated with any other SPCA or Humane Society.

Tax ID: 94-6171565

© 2024 Santa Cruz SPCA