Frequently Asked Questions

Why do you have an adoption process?

Our counselors take great care to explain what adopters can expect and match needs and energy levels of animals with the adopter’s lifestyle. The process is an educational opportunity, not an interview, and our goal is to make as many matches as possible. We average close to 4,000 adoptions per year!

What's included in an adoption?

Dogs and cats receive health and temperament screening, initial vaccinations, a microchip, free vet visit with a participating vet, and spay/neuter surgery. Rabbits receive everything but vaccinations, and microchip. For varying adoption fees, small animals and exotic pets also receive health and temperament screening and a free vet visit. Adopters can make an appointment with our vet, should a medical issue arise within 14 days of the day they adopted.

Does PHS/SPCA euthanize animals?

Because we accept all animals and in varying conditions, many simply cannot go up for adoption because they are too aggressive, too sick, badly injured or too young to survive in a shelter. We do, however, adopt 100% of healthy (physically and behaviorally) dogs and cats. The animals we euthanize are animals no other shelter or rescue group is willing or able to take, and they are euthanized only when all options have been exhausted.

How long do animals stay at PHS/SPCA?

It depends on an animal’s condition. Once up for adoption, animals can stay until they are adopted. If their health or temperament drastically declines and no other options are available, they may be euthanized. In order to give owners a chance to find their animals, strays are held four days. Once this state-mandated holding period has passed, healthy animals are moved to our adoptable animal areas.

What can I do if I suspect someone of animal abuse?

PHS/SPCA investigates all cruelty or neglect complaints. If we find a complaint to be valid, we submit findings to the District Attorney’s Office. The DA’s Office – and not PHS/SPCA – assigns charges and penalties. Call 650-340-8200 ext. 602 or send e-mail to [email protected] to report animal cruelty or neglect.

Can PHS/SPCA handle my nuisance wildlife?

The most successful way to deal humanely with nuisance wildlife is through education not removal. To keep nuisance wildlife away, people must eliminate that which is attracting the wildlife; usually, an inadvertent source of food, water or shelter. Call PHS/SPCA at 650-340-7022 ext. 414 or read our article for tips on making your property less appealing to wildlife.

I've lost my animal. What can I do?

Visit us between 11 am and 7 pm (6 pm on weekends) at our 12 Airport Blvd, San Mateo location. Complete a Lost Animal Report, check records of incoming animals, and walk through the shelter with a staff member or volunteer to look for your animal. Come back every other day, post flyers where allowed and don’t give up! Click here for more info. We hold strays with and without ID for 4 days.

Is PHS/SPCA private or public? How is the shelter funded?

We’re a private nonprofit, and rely on donations to provide wildlife rehabilitation, obedience classes, a behavior helpline, education for schoolchildren, community education and outreach, spay/neuter, animal cruelty investigation, and extensive vet care for the neediest animals. We are contracted with San Mateo County to provide basic animal control services. PHS/SPCA is not affiliated with and receives no funding from any national humane groups.

When is PHS/SPCA open?

Every day except major holidays; 11 am – 7 pm on weekdays and 11 am to 6 pm on weekends. Our Spay/Neuter Clinic’s hours are Monday – Friday, 7am-12pm and 1pm-6pm (appointment only).

How can I help the animals?

Consider becoming a member or volunteer. To become a member or donate, call 650-340-7022 ext. 327 or click here. To learn about volunteer opportunities, please call 650-340-7022 ext. 328 or click here.

Can I bring the stray cats on my property to PHS/SPCA? What will happen to them?

Yes, cats are held for at least four days to give owners a chance to claim them, then given a health check and a temperament evaluation to see if they can go up for adoption.

Do I have to give a year commitment if I want to volunteer?

Because we spend a great deal of time training volunteers, we ask for a year commitment and for volunteers to commit 2-4 hours per week, depending on the department. 

Can my child volunteer at PHS/SPCA?

We offer volunteer positions for youth 13 to 17 years of age and require a commitment of 2 hours per week for at least six months. Children ages 13-15 must volunteer with a parent or guardian (15-year-olds may volunteer unsupervised in our Pick of the Litter Thrift Store). Click here for more information.

Can an animal control officer return my pet if the animal has identification?

Our officers will call the shelter with the ID information in an attempt to get an owner’s address or phone number. If no one is home or available, the animal is brought to PHS/SPCA and the owner is contacted daily (for up to 4 days) until the animal is claimed.

Can I buy an animal license at PHS/SPCA? Do you microchip and vaccinate animals?

Yes, yes and yes! You can purchase a license or microchip form of ID from our front office any day, except major holidays, no appointment needed. Click here for more information. If your animal needs vaccinations, visit our low-cost clinic the first Wednesday of each month, 6-8 pm. We offer Rabies, Feline Leukemia, FVRCP and DHPP for $15 each; we also sell microchips and Advantage at a reduced cost. Click here for more information.

Do your officers do more than pick up strays?

Yes, much more. They initiate animal cruelty investigations, help injured domestic animals and wildlife, perform heroic rescues and uphold animal laws. Their mission is to keep animals and people safe while educating the public.

Does PHS/SPCA adopt Pit Bulls?

Yes. We have chosen not to categorically deny adoption chances for any one breed. However, we give all dogs a thorough temperament evaluation and are careful about which are made available for adoption. We also take great care to place certain breeds, like pit bulls, with people who can demonstrate a thorough understanding of them.

Why does PHS/SPCA spend money on programs that don't involve direct care of shelter animals?

While one goal is to care for stray and unwanted animals, another is to address roots of problems: cruelty, neglect and overpopulation. We provide education for schoolchildren, a free Pet Loss Grief Support group, obedience classes and a free Behavior Helpline at 340-7022 ext. 783 or, en Espanol ext. 786. These are some of the programs and services that make us a humane society and much more than a pound. For more information about these programs, see the “Our Work” section of our web site.

What kind of animals are available for adoption and how often do they change?

Dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats, mice, birds, exotic animals and an occasional farm animal. Every day new animals are available. Visit in person, call 650-340-7022, or click here.

Can I do anything for a family member of friend who is grieving the death of a loved companion animal?

Yes, please refer them to our Pet Loss Support Group which meets the second Thursday evening of each month at our shelter. It is led by a professional facilitator and designed to help those who need support beyond that which they are receiving from family and friends. For the next meeting date, please call 650-340-7022 ext. 344. Click here for more.