Animal welfare agencies merge with pet services group

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SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Humane Society and the local SPCA announced a merger Monday with PAWS San Diego, which provides pet services for low-income seniors, the chronically ill and the disabled.

sandy dogsThe organizations will operate under the Humane Society banner, starting next month, and PAWS, which stands for Pets Are Wonderful Support, will be the group’s charity unit.

Veterinarian Gary Weitzman, president and CEO of the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA, said people sometimes have to choose between feeding themselves or their pets if they lose a job or a home, or if a family member becomes ill.

“We want people to have somewhere to turn when faced with these difficult decisions,” Weitzman said. “Our pets are family, so we want to keep families together by assisting individuals facing tough times. The best thing we can do for pets is to keep them out of shelters and in their homes, where they belong.”

He said the merger would “strengthen our role as the safety net for animals at risk of relinquishment to shelters in our community.”

The top reasons why people give up their pets are high costs and personal problems, according to a national study on pet population.

PAWS San Diego employees will become Humane Society staff members Sept. 1, according to the Humane Society.