Gary with Dazzle.

Octavia when she arrived at HSSC.

Octavia now.


Some animals who come into our care find their forever homes lickety-split, others wait a little longer. They may have physical injuries or complex medical conditions that need to be treated before they can go on to live happy, healthy lives. Then, there are those who have emotional wounds that need to be healed before they can move on.

In May we transferred in a large number of animals from an overcrowded shelter in Fresno. Several of the dogs were rescued from a hoarding situation and arrived completely overwhelmed. Most were small terrier mixes and so nicknamed “the shy littles” by staff. We gathered up these littles with open hearts, fully understanding that they would be shut down and would require months of tender care to build their confidence and trust.

A couple of “the littles” were so fearful of people, they growled and barked incessantly at shelter staff for the first few days there were here. Others would hide under their beds and tremble. It was heartbreaking to witness. We could only imagine what their previous situation had been like. We knew it would be a long road ahead, and we knew we’d do whatever it took to help them feel comfortable and safe.

Our Behavior and Training team created a specialized plan, based on giving the dogs plenty of time and space to “tell us” what they needed to heal and build trust. This involved keeping the dogs’ world safe and small, and limiting the number of new people they encountered. It also meant long stretches of time, just quietly being with the dogs.


Enter Gary Lissow. Gary is one of our beloved, longtime volunteers who “gets” shy, small dogs. His time and dedication to this special group has been instrumental in helping them make healthy progress. “I've always thought that the one thing shelter dogs are most lacking is their very own human. We can give them food, medical care, warmth and safety but what they really need most is that special person. So, I've always strived to put everything else out of my mind when I'm with a shelter dog and for just a few minutes, be 100% 'their person’,” Gary shares. “Even from the beginning with these terrified little guys, cowering and shivering there was a little spark of curiosity in their eyes that somehow made them want to reach out to me for that human connection. My job was to kindle that little spark into a flame.”

Gradually, the dogs started becoming more comfortable – approaching Gary as he sat or laid down on the floor in their rooms - eventually taking food from his palm. Once they felt secure doing that, he would sneak in a chin scritch or a pet. At first, even the slightest twitch of his leg or outside noise would send them scrambling back under their beds. But he’d gently toss treats, speaking or singing softly to them, and the process would continue. Soon, they were coming up to sniff his face or feeling brave enough to try new things like walking on leashes.

Happily, we’ve started placing some of the dogs in homes, working closely with adopters to coordinate several visits before going home. An important part of this process has been helping their families understand that the adjustment period could take months, even years. “Adopting a hoarding dog can be a very rewarding experiencing, but it is not an endeavor to be taken lightly,” explains HSSC Behavior and Training Manager, Lynnette Smith. These are dogs that might never feel comfortable around humans or only feel comfortable around one human. They may never be cuddly or your best friend, but then again you might turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to them if you have patience and are willing to play the long game.”


Scoot when he arrived at HSSC.

Scoot now.

Eleanor when she arrived at HSSC.

Eleanor with her new mom.

Time and time again, the animals show us that with love and acceptance, all things are possible. And your love and support is what makes these wonderful second chances all possible.

Thank you.


❤️ Ready to bring home your new fuzzy family member? Click here to see how!! ❤️


September Adoption Special!


Dog (and Cat!) Days of Summer!
50% off adult dog and cat adoptions!

Shelters everywhere are full to the brim with adoptable animals right now (ours included!) and we're on a mission to find a loving home for each and every one of them! HSSC is offering 50% off all adult dog and cat adoption fees now through September 30.

Thinking about bringing home a new fuzzy family member? Now is the time! Click here to see who’s waiting to meet you!


News From Our Shelter Hospital and Community Vet Clinic


Lenny came to us with an old injury to his back leg that had caused his hip to dislocate. We performed a Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO) to remove the head of the femur. With some easy rehabilitation, Lenny’s body will create a false joint to stabilize his leg and give him back mobility without discomfort.

Lenny also suffered from a very uncomfortable condition known as entropion, where the eyelids curl inward and the eyelashes to rub against the surface of the eye. This issue was fixed along with Lenny’s femur so he could both see and scamper with new-found joy!

We’re happy to report that Lenny is recovering well and happily awaiting his new FUR-ever home!

Candy’s owner Linda was diagnosed with cancer and she wants to make sure her senior dog gets the care she needs in case she needs to be rehomed with family or friends while Linda undergoes treatment.

Even though she brushes Candy’s teeth diligently, she noticed several teeth had fallen out and others were loose and needed to be extracted. The CVC is currently booking dental procedures out several months, but we were able to get Candy in when there was a cancellation. Now that Candy got the dental care she needed, Linda can breathe easier and focus on her own health.

Thanks to our recent grant from The Grey Muzzle Organization, our CVC was able to provide Candy’s much-needed dental care. We are so grateful to have their support in preserving these loving bonds for pets and their people.


In these changing times, your support helps HSSC's Shelter Medicine and CVC programs provide lifesaving procedures and surgeries for animals in need. 

Any gift you can spare right now will do a world of good for our shelter animals and allow our medical and animal care teams to continue saving these precious lives.



Special Thanks To.....


Thanks to our friends at Hansel Subaru, our "Subaru Loves Pets" adoption event
was not only really fun but also a great success!

We drove our Tail Waggin' over full of 16 adorable kittens available for adoption and we found forever homes for 14 of them in two hours! Not only that, but he last two kittens were adopted later that day at HSSC! We also had some of our amazing volunteers and AAT team who brought Elvis and Bebe (with their adorably smoochable faces) for our kissing booth and Ya Ya and Bubbles to hang out and make the day a bit sweeter.

Thank you to everyone who came out to the event, everyone who adopted a kitten and especially to Hansel Subaru for hosting the event and sponsoring the adoptions! ❤️


How You Can Help


Help Us Raise the Roooof!!

We need to raise $200,000 to replace our Santa Rosa Shelter’s roof.

We’re turning to you to help us keep a roof over the animals’ heads – literally!

Our animal-adoring friends at ARS Roofing have pulled out all the stops to get us an amazing "cool roof" with a lifetime guarantee to protect the animals from ever more severe weather, save energy and significantly lower our utility bills.

Please help us keep our promise to the animals: to protect them and keep them safe, no matter what.

❤️Thank you so much for your support! ❤️


Rite Aid Pharmacy Fundraiser!

RXfundraising and Rite Aid will give us back a portion of the dollars spent on prescriptions and purchases made at Rite Aid Pharmacy. We get 1.5% sales of any items and .50 cents per prescription purchased through Rite Aid Pharmacy!

To participate and help raise funds, you just need to register for a member card- it’s free- and you can easily transfer prescriptions to RiteAid. 

It takes just a few minutes to start earning rewards for yourself and for the animals!

Thank you!!!


Looking for a unique way to show someone your love is as solid as a brick? ❤️

Pave your way into your favorite animal lover’s heart with a commemorative brick, and help the Humane Society of Sonoma County continue their life saving work!

For a donation, you can purchase a brick in honor of your true love, best human friend, or best furry friend. Or celebrate your love of animals with a heartfelt message inscribed with your own name. The Healdsburg Shelter Commemorative Brick Project offers an opportunity to be part of our life saving work to provide a safe haven for animals, new beginnings and second chances. (Bricks are installed in our Memorial Courtyard at the Healdsburg Shelter).


Join Us!


Join us for Rodney Strong’s Americana Music Festival this summer!

Featuring three special evenings of wine, music, local vendors and some of your favorite local food trucks. Bring your chairs and blankets and settle in on our Concert Green. Limited tickets available. Please visit to view more information or to purchase tickets!

Doors open at 4PM; performance from 5-7PM
$10 adults / Free for children under 15

9/25 – David Luning band   


Join us for Head West at The Barlow in Sebastopol!!

Head West is a local, community marketplace of neighbors and HSSC will be there September 11th and every second Saturday through December with our Kissing Booth, therapy dog visits, and training demos by our dog training department!

For more information visit:


Join Us At Sebastopol's fun Apple Blossom Parade! 🍎

HSSC will be there Saturday, Sept. 18th from 10am-12pm with staff, volunteers and our animal therapy dog teams!

Stay tuned for more details!


❤️ Was our eAnimail forwarded to you by a friend? ❤️

Did a fellow animal-lover send our newsletter your way? Sign up here to make sure you get HSSC's amazing animal stories and shelter news delivered directly to your inbox! 


First and foremost, we want you all to stay safe and healthy. As we work toward safely re-opening post-pandemic, we will continue to post updates about
our programs and services on our website
here and on our Facebook page.

Your ongoing support enables us to continue our lifesaving work for the animals during changing times.

Together we are providing every animal protection, compassion, love and care. We are so grateful for this
connection which inspires so much hope. 


HSSC's Santa Rosa Shelter:
5345 Hwy 12 West
| Santa Rosa, CA 95407
707-542-0882 |

HSSC's Healdsburg Shelter:
555 Westside Rd
| Healdsburg, CA 95448
707-431-3386 |


Humane Society of Sonoma County
Board of Directors 2021


Kati Aho, President
Kristen Trisko , Vice President
Vee Wright, Secretary

Kelly Stromgren, Treasurer

 Jim Barnes, Darlene Brazil, Sandy Chute, Johnny Drake, Sophia Grossi, Chris Kittredge, Grace Lucero, Steve Maass, Marty Olhiser, Robert Quail, Dorothy Rodella, Danielle Sandoval, Tim Wingard

Copyright © 2021. All Rights Reserved.

The Humane Society of Sonoma County never shares any contact information, including email addresses, with other organizations. Your privacy is always protected and very important to us. 

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