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 now cares for over 3,000 cats and dogs each year at our facilities in San Luis Obispo and Atascadero until they can be united with loving forever families. We accept surrendered pets from our local community members if they are no longer able to care for them, and transfer animals in from over crowded shelters both locally and from other areas of California. Woods is committed to finding loving homes for all healthy and treatable pets, no matter how long it takes. With our behavior and veterinary resources, we are able to go the extra mile for animals in need.
As part of our commitment to work towards ending pet overpopulation, not only is every animal at Woods 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 nearly 40,000 spay/neuter surgeries in the Woods-Cashin Surgery Center 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 Behavior and Training Department 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 mission is to serve, protect and shelter homeless companion animals; to place animals into humane environments; to promote responsible pet ownership, provide humane education, and reduce animal overpopulation; and to celebrate the human-animal bond.
After many years in property management Robin was ready for a change and she found it when she moved to the Central Coast with her husband and daughter. After a few months spent getting settled, they wandered into Woods Humane Society, “just looking”. They immediately fell in love with a dog named Dexter and added him to their family.
During that process Robin also fell in love with Woods, and was thrilled to start her career at Woods as Customer Service Supervisor where she got to combine her love of animals and love of working with people. She has also fullfilled the role of Volunteer Coordinator and Adoption Program Manager over the years at Woods.
Now as Community Engagement Manager, Robin is responsible for developing relationships through targeted outreach and increasing public awareness of Woods Humane Society’s various programs, services and initiatives.
When not at work you can find Robin spending time with her family, taking Dexter to the beach, going on walks, trying new restaurants and just enjoying the beauty that the Central Coast landscape offers.
Jamie joined the Woods Humane Society team in February 2015 as the Humane Education Coordinator soon after losing her beloved, Woods-adopted dog to cancer. She was thrilled to pay forward the love and life-lessons her dog gave to her by teaching the next generation about how to be kind to these shelter animals that make our lives so much richer.
Now, as Communications Manager, Jamie creates cohesive, compelling messaging across all media channels to effectively engage and educate the public in support of the Woods mission.
As a writer with a background in journalism, marketing and public relations, Jamie is honored and grateful to help tell the inspiring, heartwarming stories made possible by Woods Humane Society and to spread the word about the importance of adoption and animal welfare.
She is a proud Woods foster-failure and spends much of her free time working on clicker training with her cat and practicing agility or hiking with her dog.
In her free time, Jamie enjoys running, swimming, hiking, climbing, cycling and other outdoor activities.
Halfway through volunteer orientation Chantalle knew Woods was the place for her. She began as an Animal Caregiver in 2012 and has since spent time working in Woods’ Medical, Customer Service, and Animal Care and Intake departments.
Chantalle worked to increase adoptions at Woods while reducing overpopulation and overcrowding in neighboring shelters through Woods Humane Society’s Animal Transport Programs. By building and managing our Foster Program Chantalle put her own experience bottle feeding tiny kittens to use as she recruits, trains and supports the dedicated caregivers who foster dozens and dozens of abandoned kittens each spring and summer as well as managing the foster care for adult animals.
When the opportunity arose, Chantalle was the natural choice to become the Animal Care Manager, leading the animal care team in the daily cleaning, care and adoptions of all the animals in our program.
Chantalle was an animal volunteer and advocate for numerous agencies while growing up in Orange County, CA. She moved to the central coast in September of 2009 to pursue a degree in Animal Science, graduated from Cal Poly, and like many others has made San Luis Obispo County her home.
When not working to help both people and animals at Woods, Chantalle is out kayaking, hiking or exploring the county with her dogs, Polly Pocket and Chino or relaxing with her cat, Diesel
Even as a young girl Rachelle could be found volunteering her time to help animals; she helped out at rescues for Collies and Tonkinese show cats. Eventually both organizations, recognizing her incredible commitment, brought her on as a paid staff member.
In 2007, Rachelle again signed up to volunteer, this time at North County Humane Society. She spent 8 hours a day, 5 days a week doing anything and everything that needed to be done to keep the facility clean and the cats happy. It wasn’t long before she was asked to join the staff, taking on each new responsibility with dependability and dedication.
In January of 2107 when the long-time shelter manager retired, Rachelle was the natural choice to step into the leadership role. She now heads a team that provides loving, professional care to the hundreds of cats and kittens who find their way to Woods – North County. She also takes care of the people who come to the shelter, spending all the time needed to learn about each new adopter so that they can find the perfect cat or kitten to take home.
In her free time she can be found caring for her dog Taz and her cat Biscuit, a kitten she helped to foster. She likes to spend time at the beach or taking hikes with Taz at her side – sometimes on long hikes around the county, sometimes just around Atascadero Lake. She enjoys snowboarding, sky diving and spending time with friends. Most of all she is a loving mother to her children who are also her best friends.
Michelle Rizzi, CPDT-KA, CAP-2 has been a professional dog trainer since 2001. Michelle is a nationally Certified Pet Dog Trainer (CPDT) and an active member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.
Michelle began working with shelter dogs at the SPCA in L.A in 2001. The following year she moved to Salt Lake City where she was the first trainer to introduce Positive Reinforcement Training. She taught a variety of classes at the Humane Society of Utah for the next seven years specializing in behavior modification for fearful and/or aggressive dogs.
“I get to work with dogs all day, come home to my own dogs in the evening, and I’m still eager to greet every dog I pass by on the street; I know I am in the right place!”
With a strong background in training shelter dogs, Michelle is happy to be working at Woods Humane Society where she can continue to have a positive impact on improving and enriching the lives of pet dogs.
Janell Matthies joined the Woods team in April 2021. Janell first became actively involved in animal welfare as a volunteer over 30 years ago. She has worked professionally in emergency animal rescue with various national organizations for the last 13 years, primarily working on large scale cruelty cases and disaster response. She is currently in the process of earning her RVT license. She is a recent transplant from Northern California and is enjoying living the Central Coast life in Morro Bay with her BFF Sammy, a 17-year-old poodle mix.
Eric Stockam moved to the Central Coast 6 years ago after growing up in El Dorado Hills, California. Eric began working with dogs over 7 years ago and got his start at the El Dorado County Animal Shelter where he both volunteered as well as fostered dogs and cats.
Eric began working for Woods Humane Society as an Animal Caregiver and quickly applied his interest in canine behavior, fulfilling the requirements to become a nationally certified dog trainer (CPDT-KA) in late 2016, with the mentorship of our Behavior & Training Manager, Michelle Rizzi. Prior to working as a full-time dog trainer Eric’s employment has included veterinary assistant, grooming assistant, pet sitter, and animal caregiver.