Founded in 1983, the Ohlone Humane Society is an animal welfare nonprofit that advocates for all creatures, from urban wildlife to companion animals and serves the communities of Fremont, Newark and Union City. While OHS doesn’t operate a shelter, they are one of the few humane societies to maintain a wildlife rehabilitation center which helps more than 500 sick, orphaned, and injured animals each year. OHS operates distinct programs that range from pet fostering and adoption to spay-neuter assistance to animal-assisted therapy.
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Founded in 1983 the Ohlone Humane Society is an animal welfare nonprofit that advocates for all creatures from urban wildlife to companion animals. And they serve communities of Fremont and Newark and Union City. While OHS doesn’t operate a shelter, they are one of the few humane societies to maintain a wildlife rehabilitation center, which helps more than 500 sick, orphaned and injured animals each year. OHS operates distinct programs that range from pet fostering and adoption to spay and neuter assistance to animal assisted therapy programs.
Hi Jonas, Welcome to the show. Hi.Thank you for having me. Of course. We’re looking forward to learning more about you and the Ohlone Humane Society in California. So you are the Marketing Director, is that right? That’s right. Perfect. So can you just tell me a little bit more about your organization and how you got started there? Sure. The Ohlone Humane Society was founded back in 1983 as a 501C3 nonprofit that advocates for all creatures, from urban wildlife to companion animals. And OHS serves the communities of Fremont, New York, and Union City in California. And we also partner very closely with the Tri City Animal Shelter in Fremont. Okay, Perfect. And I definitely, I saw on your guys Facebook. You guys aren’t joking when you say you guys take in all kinds of critters and animals, I saw some bobcats and a few squirrels. Some deer. Holy moly. Yeah. A unique aspect of the Alone Humane Society is that we’re one of the few humane organizations to maintain a wildlife rehabilitation center. That helps us with more than 500 sick, orphaned or injured animals every year. And like you said, we work successfully in rehabilitating all types of native wild birds, raccoons, skunks, squirrels, possum, foxes and the bobcats. Wow, that’s pretty awesome. I mean, you know, you always kind of hear about the general you know, humane societies and the general shelters that take in companion animals. So it’s pretty awesome to hear that you guys care for all the other animals that still need that treatment and everything. So I’m assuming that you guys have specialists and maybe vets that specialize in different types of animals, right? We do. We have, I think, at this point, it’s three full-time employees at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center who are caring for those animals and making sure they get their needs fulfilled. So then they can be released back into the wild.
Okay, very cool. So share with me a little bit about how these animals come into your care. Is that something that people in your community find them and they pick them up and bring them to you? Or how does that process usually look? The eastern borders of Fremont and Union City, in particular, they include some undeveloped hills on their eastern border. And Newark, of course, sits on San Francisco Bay. The combination of those environments and topography creates unique conditions for wildlife. We don’t advocate on people capturing and bringing animals to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, but rather contacting them in advance. Or we also have materials on our website that allows for the resident or whoever finds the animal to go through a checklist to ensure they actually need care. Sometimes that they find a bird, for example, it could very well be that the mother bird is just nearby. It’s not truly abandoned. In that case, we would not want them to approach it, because that can cause them difficulty in the bonding, between the baby bird and the mother bird. So calling the shelter in advance is always the best. Right. That definitely makes sense, because I think some of those wildlife animals when humans touch them or anything, doesn’t the mom smell it or something? And then they don’t want anything to do with their babies anymore? Right. It could cause rejection. That’s the last thing that we would want. Okay, very interesting.
So what if you get a call from somebody in your community and they’ve used the resources on your site and you know they need to get that animal in there? Do you have some people that are a part of your organization that can go out and help these people or do you guys strictly rely on the animal being brought to you? Typically, we rely on the animal being brought to us. There might be some cases where it’s best if we address it, but for the most part, all of our volunteers and employees are at the wildlife center. And so they would need to come to the center. Okay, Perfect. Do you guys also take in the companion animals also, do you guys adopt them out? Or I mean, I know you said that the wildlife you guys released back into the wild. How do you guys handle the companion animal situation? Well, like I said, we do partner very closely with the Tri City Animal Shelter. And so if someone is interested in adoption, we do have programs for fostering and adoption and animal therapy. And we work very closely with Tri City Animal Shelter and actually housing those animals and taking a larger role in the actual processing and paperwork of those animals. Okay, that makes a lot of sense.
For some of us who may not be in that area, what does the overall community look like? Do you guys have very involved people within your community that supports your guys’ organization, and also, while we’re on the topic of that, how is the community like for all the animals in your area? We’ve been very fortunate that the community is very supportive in our mission and supporting wildlife. And I think again, because of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, it has some added interest for that component of the organization. But for the most part, we’ve been very fortunate to have, we’ve been well staffed with many volunteers, to complete volunteer organization except for the employees at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. And yes, the donations and the membership that we’ve enjoyed, just goes to show how important it is to the local community. Great. It’s always better when you’ve got that supportive community behind you and their involvement just makes such a huge difference, right? Right. Well, and it also helps that the Ohlone Humane Society has lent a lot of programs that we operate. So whatever a person’s interest is in helping, we have a program that is suited for them, from animal assisted therapy to fostering and adoption to humane education. We offer assistance for owners who are looking to spay or neuter their animals. Or we also have a program where we’ll go out to the community and actually neuter and spay feral and stray animals, so they don’t overpopulate as well. That’s awesome.
One of the ones that stood out to me specifically, was the animal assisted therapy program. Can you share a little bit more about that one in detail for me? Sure, Animal Assisted Therapy is basically activities that enable people to interact with their companion animals. We know that there’s health benefits to having companion animals when someone is recovering, and so we have a couple of different parts of the program that we support. One is with senior patients, and residents, who are looking to have that companionship, especially if they used to have pets of their own. We actually have dogs that we’ll take to the library, and we’ll have kids read to them. And it’s just a great way of creating a nonstressful environment for them to learn reading and interact with animals. And then, of course, we have some that visit high school and college students during finals week. Just to help ease some of that stress and anxiety, that might come at that time of year. Wow, that’s really cool. I like that. I think bringing the animals to you know everyone around, the youth of your community, and everything is super important. You know, I think that they are our future and if we can get them involved and show them the animals have feelings and personalities too, that it’s gonna make a world of a difference for animals in the future. I absolutely couldn’t agree more. Very cool. No, I definitely like that. And I like that you guys, I think that’s why I was drawn to that one is because when you say, you know, animal-assisted therapy program, it’s like, Okay, that’s cool and you get the general idea. But I love that you broke it down because there’s so many different areas, within that one program that you guys focus on. And I think that that’s a great thing to hone in on and acknowledge. Well, thank you. Of course.
So I mean, you have all these great programs and you know, what you guys are doing just overall seems amazing. You know, you always hear about organizations helping the dogs and the cats and you know, which we love that. But the wildlife aspect really spikes my interest a little bit. So I’m curious as to what are some of the struggles that you guys face for your organization specifically? Right now, given what’s happening with COVID and the pandemic, we haven’t necessarily run across new challenges. But some of the existing challenges have just been, they’ve had a harder time through this period. As far as our short term needs, you know, we’ve always had a need for more volunteers and donations. But this time you know, we’re looking for as much help as we can get. And also specifically, volunteers and donations for the special assistance program, which includes our Pets Meals on Wheels program and Veterinary Assistance. And, of course, kitten fostering, we’re in kitten season right now, looking for individuals who are willing to take on a kitten and basically foster it for the time being, until it’s ready for adoption. Okay, No, I think that that’s, you know like you mentioned right now, everybody’s kind of struggling with different things, some similar than others. COVID has definitely brought on quite the challenge for industries, specifically.
Are you guys doing anything when it comes to like events or fundraisers or anything? Do you guys normally put on events and fundraising? We do. We participate in a lot of the local events like you said. it’s been difficult this year because many have been either postponed or canceled. But there are events that we’re looking to create, participate more in, like we recently announced, were joining the annual Pets to the Rescue one mile and 5K virtual run/walk event, which is basically as it sounds. It’s a virtual one mile or 5K, that you register and you select a charity of your choice, and it’s basically a great opportunity for supporters to get some exercise, while also helping raise funds, that are very needed at this time. So that’s one example that is happening right now. And we’re also in talks with many other organizations that are looking to put on events in the future when we’re allowed to relax from the restrictions that have been put in place.
Okay, I’m very curious about a virtual run type thing. How, like, how does that work? Do I, like, go and walk and run on my own? Can you share with me a little bit about that? How is it gonna work? Yeah. So the idea is you would go online. You would register. Again, you would select whatever organization you like to support. We are on there as Ohlone Humane Society. And basically, between now and I think, they extended into July. Whenever you have the opportunity, you just walk a mile or you do a 5K run on your own. Record your time. And if you send in your time, you can actually be eligible for a drawing that they’ll be doing later on. But 100% of the registration fee goes towards your organization of choice. And so if people are interested, I’d encourage them to visit our website where they can get more information and also get the link for registering. Wow, Now, that’s definitely a different one. I personally have never heard of something like that, and I find it very intriguing and very interesting. So thank you for sharing that, you mentioned that it is on your website, correct? Right: The OhloneHumaneSociety.org. Perfect. Okay, so I definitely encourage our listeners to go and check that out. I’m gonna check that out myself because I think it’s really cool. It’s very unique. And I like that they give you that choice, you know, that choose to donate to an organization of your choice. I think that that’s definitely the cherry on top of everything. Perfect.
Okay, so one of the questions that I had, I want to back up a little bit was where you were talking about the costs, like medical costs for the animals. And I was curious, are the medical costs for wildlife animals more expensive and companion animals, or how do they differ? I guess it would depend on what sort of assistance they would need. I think oftentimes, just due to the variety, the diversity of animals that are coming into the wildlife rehabilitation center, that they just require more specialized care, which typically incurs a higher cost. But yeah, it all just depends on the severity of the need. Okay, So, Jonas, how long have you been with the Ohlone Humane Society? So I just joined within the last two months. I was at the start of the pandemic and the shelter in place orders, I was just looking for an opportunity to give more of my time, and one of my great passions growing up was animal and wildlife causes. There was an organization in Northern California that provided another rehabilitation center, and just getting up and close with some of the wildlife, really sparked a lifelong passion. This was kind of the right combination of both, leveraging my professional background in marketing. as well as being a cause that I could really support.
Wow, No, I mean you honestly could have fooled me. I mean, how comfortable you are talking about this organization and how knowledgeable you are, I would have guessed that you’ve been there a few years, to be quite honest. I mean, well done to that, and that was actually going to lead me down, one of the next questions that I had was, how has your organization changed over the years? So I guess that kind of strikes that one out there a little bit. Yeah, there’s probably a couple of other people that are involved in the organization to answer that question. But all I know is from when I started and seeing what’s in the works for the organization, I’m pretty excited. Not only is there a lot of talk about new programs and exploring new ideas to expand the impact of the Ohlone Humane Society, but also just internally we’re doing a lot of things to update and renovate a lot of our internal system. We’re looking at everything from how we do our membership to how we communicate things both internally and externally. So there’s just a lot of work being done. Even, you know, during this time. Yeah, that makes total sense. And, you know, I definitely see a future for you guys and your organization, and you guys are definitely on that unique aspect, and I think that’s great and what makes you guys different.
I am curious? Since you’ve been there about two months now, what is something that you wish people knew about your organization, that they wouldn’t know right off hand? Like, what is something that you guys really feel is something that’s super important to you guys but not a lot of people maybe know about it? It’s a great question. A lot of people come in or are introduced to the Ohlone Humane Society through either the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center or through pet adoption, but then they may not know about the other program. So I think what I wish people would realize, and this goes back to the reason why I joined and why we have, you know, we’re building up a marketing team. I think the biggest challenge for us is that awareness, not necessarily that people don’t know about a particular aspect of Ohlone Humane Society, but just the fact that we do exist and making sure that when people are searching online, or anything having to do with wildlife, how you find an animal, what to do with it or if you’re looking for information on adoption or fostering or any of these programs. I think our big challenges are just making sure that we’re found for all of those things. I think it’s great that we have a lot of programs, but that makes it all the more challenging that we have to be found when someone searches, for every single aspect of those programs. Yeah, I could completely agree with that. Like I said, I checked out your guys’ website, and it did. It draws so many questions, but they were good questions. I wouldn’t say they were confused questions on Oh, what am I supposed to be looking for? But I think that you guys have so many great resources on your website that almost anybody could go there and kind of find what they’re looking for. And I think that’s awesome. But it is great that you guys are aware of, you know, everything that you guys offer and all the programs, But it’s definitely something to be proud of, most definitely. You guys are doing awesome work. Thank you, Thank you very much. You are welcome.
I’ve really enjoyed our conversation, and one of the things that I like doing during our podcast is to kind of see what the best way to get in contact with you guys is you know, whether somebody wants to volunteer or foster or just support you guys in general, how can they go about getting in contact with you guys? The best way of getting in contact is through our website, which is ohlonehumanesociety.org. O h l o n e humanesociety.org. From there you can find all the other contact options like our email address is [email protected] Or we also have an office line to reach the Humane Society as well as a separate line for wildlife emergencies at the rehabilitation center. But I’d say that’s probably the best way of getting in contact with us. We do have a presence on Facebook and Twitter as well. But again, contacting us by email or phone is always the best option. Okay, perfect.
So, Jonas, do you have anything else that you would like to share with us today before we wrap things up? I just like to emphasize once again, you know, we’re in the midst of sign-ups for this Pets the Rescue, one mile or 5K virtual run/walk event. We already have several sign-ups coming through. We’re looking to increase that number by as much as possible. Again. It’s a great opportunity now to be able to get outside a little bit more and get some exercise. It’s a great way to do that and also supporting a noble cause. So I would invite people to come to OhloneHumaneSociety.org to sign up and get more information, and then just thank you very much for having us on your program and we appreciate your support in this. Of course. Absolutely. I encourage our listeners to go check it out. Like I said, I’m gonna do that myself. What a better way to get outdoors and exercise. And I think I’m gonna get my family involved too. Which would be great. Get my kids outside. That would be great. Thank you. Yeah. Alrighty. Jonas, well thank you so much for joining me today. I’ve enjoyed our conversation. I would love to check in with you guys in the future and see how it’s going and see how you guys are progressing and check on those programs that you mentioned. Well, we’d love that as well. Thank you very much.
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