Sophia Liu/Mustang News.

“There are so many homeless pets … desperately seeking loving homes,” said Steve Kragenbrink, community programs director of the Woods Humane Society.

Emma Patterson
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The Woods Humane Society will have four to six cats per week on display at San Luis Obispo’s Petco within the next three weeks, increasing the visibility of felines for adoption to the public and giving students yet another way to volunteer with the humane society.

There are multiple ways for students to “get their fur fix” at the humane society, Community Programs Director of the Woods Humane Society Steve Kragenbrink said.

Students can volunteer at the Woods Humane Society during its hours of operation – noon to 6 p.m., seven days a week – but placing cats in Petco will also allow students to stop by the store, located in the Madonna Shopping Center, to show some love to the felines during store hours Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“We’re always looking for help, and students are perfect for it,” Kragenbrink said.

Students can volunteer at the Woods Humane Society by bringing their homework to the humane society and studying with animals in private rooms, playing with or washing dogs, spending time petting cats in their indoor/outdoor living area, and even taking dogs out on runs or hikes through the humane society’s offsite volunteer program, which requires completion of a training program prior to participation.

The Woods Humane Society, located at 875 Oklahoma Ave. – three and a half miles west of Cal Poly off Highway 1 – moves 180 cats and 120 dogs through the shelter each year. With space for 45 cats and 63 dogs at any one time, the society relies heavily on volunteer contributions.

The mission of the humane society is “to serve, protect and shelter homeless companion animals, to place animals into humane environments, to promote responsible pet ownership, provide humane education, to reduce animal overpopulation and to celebrate the human/animal bond,” as stated on the Woods Humane Society website.

“There are so many homeless pets … desperately seeking loving homes,” Kragenbrink said.

Cats are harder to place than dogs, Kragenbrink said. Since adopting an animal is a retail transaction, having animals in a retail setting like Petco will allow for the cats to be out and seen by the community, hopefully increasing the amount of adoptions.

Though finding the perfect homes for pets is the ultimate mission of the society, Kragenbrink – who has been working with the humane society for seven and a half  years – dissuades students from adoption, and instead suggests students volunteer at the society.

Students often want to adopt a pet while at school because they miss their pet from home, Kragenbrink said, but they don’t think about what the animal is going to be doing while they’re at school or at work, or how the animal will live with other students, which can often add stress to the animal’s life.

The humane society’s Caring Companions Foster Program offers an alternative to adoption, but with the same benefits of an at-home comrade. The program helps to enrich the lives of pets left behind when their owners pass. While the humane society actively looks for a new home for the animal, a foster owner looks after the pet in their own home. Keeping the animals in a home environment makes for a smoother transition to a new owner.

Love isn’t all the Woods Humane Society is looking for; they are also in need of expertise, Kragenbrink said.

There are many opportunities for students to learn and grow while helping the humane society in their field of study, including work for graphic designers, mathematicians and architects.

Students interested in volunteer opportunities can contact Steve Kragenbrink by phone at (805) 543-9316 ext. 19 or by email at

Those who wish to stop by and pet the cats or visit with the dogs are always welcome, Kragenbrink said.

“Come out and pet a cat for an hour,” he said. “I guarantee it will make you better.”

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