Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office Has Gone to the Dogs: Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office Has Gone to the Dogs

Santa Maria Valley Humane Society, one of the oldest animal welfare organizations serving the Central Coast, announced today the creation of the “DA Dogs” program in collaboration with District Attorney Joyce Dudley and the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.  The program delivers adoptable and well-mannered shelter dogs to the Santa Barbara Superior Court, 312 E Cook St., Santa Maria, CA 93454, for attorneys and staffers from the DA’s office to run or walk with over their lunch hour.  The program is a first of its kind in California and encourages people and pets to exercise together while promoting the adoption of homeless animals from shelter. The homeless dogs are returned to the animal shelter after their run or walk where they are available for adoption.

“The District Attorney’s office is filled with dog-friendly staffers, and DA Joyce Dudley expressed an interest in becoming more involved with promoting the adoption of homeless pets, increasing companionship and safety for citizens,” said Sean Hawkins, Executive Director for Santa Maria Valley Humane Society.  “We’re having high-energy shelter dogs join DA attorneys, investigators and staffers for recreational walking and jogging outings over their lunch hour at the courthouse,” according to Hawkins. “What makes this program unique is that a certified dog trainer accompanies the dogs each time so that basic manners and leash walking skills are being taught along the way.”

Joyce Dudley, DA for Santa Barbara County, said, “all DA Dogs canine participants wear ‘Adopt Me’ vests bringing excellent exposure to the adoptable dogs in the community and promoting the adoption of homeless animals.  Additionally, my staff have a shelter dog as their workout partner. This kind of exercise enriches both the body and soul and can help to reduce their stress at what can, at times, be a very intense work environment."

Key to recently adopted dogs acclimating to their new homes is having a wide exposure to unfamiliar people and new environments including fun, social experiences outside the shelter.  Additionally, with extremely limited staff time to thoroughly exercise every dog, high energy dogs do not always have appropriate outlets at the animal shelter.

Innovative programs developed under Hawkins leadership at Santa Maria Valley Humane Society include the DA Dogs program as well as other partnerships with the District Attorney and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department that are in the works to help both animals and the people who love them. “Our Communities that Care Initiative at the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society works outside our shelter walls to elevate the status of dogs and cats in the neighborhoods we serve and advocate for improved animal welfare and well-being,” Hawkins adds.

All of the animals who participate in the DA Dogs program are available for adoption at the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society, 1687 West Stowell Road, Santa Maria, California 93458.  Adoptable pets can be viewed online by clicking here.