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Our History

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.

With the support of our generous community, 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 state-of-the-art cattery, two canine pods, thirteen canine exercise yards, a well appointed 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.

On January 1, 2017 Woods Humane Society merged with North County Humane Society and took on the welcome challenge of operating two facilities in San Luis Obispo County. Woods Humane Society - North County, as it is now known, continues to provide shelter and adoption opportunities for cats and kittens. November 1, 2018 saw the expansion of the North County campus to include the first public spay/neuter clinic in the county.

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 Nickerson 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 Frederick, Edwin and Virginia, circa 1917
Harriet and Frederick Nickerson Woods, III
Jeanne and Edwin Woods
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