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A woman embraces a cat she just adopted at the San Diego Humane Society. Courtesy photo
Cities Community News Region

Humane Society celebrates 10 years of Oceanside merger

REGION — The San Diego Humane Society this month celebrates its 10th anniversary since merging with the Oceanside campus to become a dynamic force when it comes to helping animals.

Once known as the North County Humane Society, the two organizations merged exactly a decade ago this month, a move that greatly changed the way the north facility operated, said longtime employees.

Vincent Cobb, a guest relations representative who has worked for the organization for 12 years, said prior to the merger, the North County Humane Society had an overflow of animals without proper accommodations. Today, the Oceanside campus is made up of two locations.

“North County Humane Society had dogs in crates stacked on top of each other in the hallways,” Cobb said. “This location has come a long way and every day I’m thankful that San Diego Humane Society came and took over.”

Cobb said joining forces with the San Diego Humane Society made way to new resources for the animals in North County as they waited for their adoptions. But it wasn’t just the animals who benefitted from the merger, the employees did too, Cobb said.

“SDHS has done a lot more for the animals in our care, the employees and North County,” Cobb said. “I’m really proud to be part of San Diego Humane Society.”

Statistics have also improved for the Oceanside location. Michael Farnham, a quality assurance manager who has been with the organization since 2005, said dog reclaims were low prior to the merger with less than 15 percent of stray dogs reclaimed. This year, the number is at 66 percent. License compliance rates have also risen since the merger, Farnham said.

Kelly Termine, who was also present during the merger of both organizations, said the move also helped surrounding areas.

“Merging with San Diego Humane Society was the best thing for the communities of Oceanside and Vista,” said Termine, who works as the community engagement coordinator. “SDHS has many more resources for the animals and also for people than what NCHS provided. We are able to help more animals in our care and share the programs and resources we have with the community.”

The San Diego Humane Society has seen many changes since merging with the Oceanside campus 10 years ago. It also merged with the Escondido Humane Society, PAWS San Diego and Project Wildlife in 2014.

As one group, the Humane Society rescued nearly 50,000 animals. More than 29,000 found homes with the help of more than 650 employees and 5,000 volunteers, according to its latest annual report.

Elkie Wills, director of community engagement, said there are still more goals for the San Diego Humane Society, such as engaging more with the public. Wills encourages the staff, volunteers and guests to share their Humane Society experience.

“So many people aren’t aware of the lifesaving programs we offer outside of adoptions,” Wills said. “Sharing these messages via social media, distributing flyers and word-of-mouth helps us to get the word out, which helps more pets and people in need.”

For now, the tight-knit group who began at North County Humane Society more than 10 years ago is thankful for the impact they’ve made over the years.

“More than 10 years ago, we were a small shelter dedicated to working together to make a positive impact on the pets and people in Oceanside and Vista,” Wills said. ”The staff and volunteers that remain have a strong sense of embracing the local communities but understand the impact we are making county-wide and are excited to see the growth.”

For more information about the San Diego Humane Society, go to