Cal Poly Partners with Woods Humane Society for Hands-On Training in Animal Care

May 31, 2017

Contact: AnnMarie Cornejo

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly’s Animal Science Department has partnered with Woods Humane Society, a nonprofit animal shelter in San Luis Obispo, to offer a unique enterprise course in animal care. 

Ten Cal Poly students with a demonstrated interest in animal welfare and/or veterinary medicine are participating in the inaugural class. 

The course was developed by animal science lecturer Heather Harris, who is also an on-call surgeon at Woods. It is being taught for the first time this spring quarter and will be taught again next spring. 

Students are learning about all the major departments at the shelter, including animal intake, medical assessment, surgery, behavior, animal care, adoption, and community and educational outreach. Each student enrolled in the course is required to volunteer for up to four hours weekly. 

Students are taught about the flow of animals through the shelter, the spay/neuter program, how to maintain a healthy shelter population, and career opportunities. 

“Students are getting a direct Learn by Doing experience working in a shelter and being introduced to additional career opportunities,” Harris said. “The class expands on the traditional curriculum offered at CalPoly and connects students with a comprehensive skillset that prepares them to enter any aspect of the animal arena.” 

Students who volunteer assist as needed with daily shelter tasks, such as feeding, socializing animals, cleaning, grooming, walking dogs, and laundry. Students are also participating in a humane education project, which includes developing creative ways to communicate scientific concepts such as animal overpopulation to elementary school children. The project culminates in a presentation during the final week of the course in mid-June. 

Animal science senior Danielle Jacobson, who is enrolled in the course, is developing an educational video for her senior project, which will teach elementary school children about overpopulation and the importance of spaying and neutering. Jacobson, of Walnut Creek, will attend UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in the fall. 

About Woods Humane Society
Woods Humane Society is a nonprofit organization that receives no tax funds and instead 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 the county and with other local groups for the welfare of all animals. Woods cares for more than 1,500 cats and dogs each year, bringing animals from shelters throughout the state where they are less likely to be adopted and from individuals who are no longer able to care for their pets. For more information, visit

About Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences
Cal Poly is a nationally ranked, comprehensive polytechnic university. The university’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences is comprised of expert faculty members who take pride in their ability to transform academically motivated students into innovative professionals ready to solve the complex challenges associated with feeding the world in sustainable ways. Students have access to state-of-the-art laboratories, including ranch land, orchards, vineyards and forests, all of which provide the basis forCal Poly’s Learn by Doing methodology. It is the fifth-largest college of agriculture in the country, with 4,000 undergraduate students. Learn more at

Ten Cal Poly students are taking a class in animal care through a partnership between Cal Poly’s Animal Science Department and Woods Humane Society.


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