About Woods

Woods' Staff February 2013


Woods Humane Society is a nonprofit organization which receives no tax funds, but is supported by donations, grants, bequests, fundraising events and fees for services. Woods is independent of San Luis Obispo County Animal Services, but works in close cooperation with them and other animal groups in the county for the welfare of all animals.

Woods cares for over 1,000 cats and dogs each year until they can be united with loving forever families.  We bring in animals from other shelters where they are less likely to be adopted and from individuals who are no longer able to care for their pets. We are extremely proud of the fact that last year 99% of the animals that came into the shelter found new homes.

As part of our commitment to work towards ending pet overpopulation, not only is every animal at Woods is spayed or neutered, we also provide low-cost spay and neuter services for San Luis Obispo County Animal Services, many other local rescue organizations, and for owned animals in our county.  Our medical team has performed over 3,500 spay/neuter surgeries in the Woods-Cashin Surgery Center each year since its opening in 2007.  The Humane Education Program offers a wide range of activities for tots to teens and provides insight and enrichment for the next generation of animal advocates.  Our full-time Training and Behavior Coordinator provides expert care for dogs in our adoption program as well as dog obedience training classes for the public, designed to keep pets in their homes and out of shelters.  Financial support from donors and the dedication of our staff and hundreds of volunteers ensure the success of our work.

Our History:  Founded in 1955, Woods Humane Society has grown from a small, volunteer-run organization to become the only full-service humane society in San Luis Obispo County.  Woods was named in honor of Frances Newhall Woods, our visionary founder who donated the property in Nipomo where the original shelter stood. 

Woods moved to Broad Street near the airport in San Luis Obispo in 1961. During the first 20 years, Woods served as both an adoption facility and the animal control agency for the County of San Luis Obispo. In 1975 Woods relinquished its contract for animal control and focused exclusively on sheltering adoptable dogs and cats.

The County of San Luis Obispo purchased the Broad Street property in 1989 because it sat in the “runway clear zone” for the county airport. Woods leased the property back from the County and continued to operate there for the next sixteen years.  During the 1990’s Woods Humane Society expanded our programs to include the Critter Camp program for children and initiated pet visitations at local senior care facilities. In 1993, Woods implemented a policy of spaying or neutering every pet before adoption to help address the issue of pet overpopulation.

After a major capital campaign Woods Humane Society constructed the facility it calls home today at 875 Oklahoma Avenue in San Luis Obispo. The new shelter opened in 2005 and the final phase was completed in 2014.  The 25,000 square foot campus sits on 5-acres of land, has a free-roaming cattery, two canine pods, seven canine exercise yards, a state-of-the-art surgery center, a training and behavior center and a 1,300 square foot community room.  Woods sits on land owned by San Luis Obispo County and in return takes in over 300 cats and dogs from County Animal Services each year. 

Throughout the decades Woods Humane Society has enjoyed tremendous financial support from many members of our community and continuing support from the Woods family.  Two of Frances Woods’ children, Frederick Newhall Woods III and his wife Harriet, and Edwin Woods and his wife Jeanne, honored their mother by leaving significant bequests to Woods Humane Society and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren continue to offer support.  This family tradition of generosity has allowed us to care for countless homeless pets as we developed a full range of services and has positioned us to look to a future where every animal has a home where it is cherished.

Frances Newhall Woods with her children

Frances Newhall Woods with Frederick, Edwin and Virginia, circa 1917

Opening Homes and Hearts to Homeless Pets
in San Luis Obispo County since 1955.