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As court case closes, Pets In Need opens up about revamped protocols

Nonprofit organization seeks to redeem its public image and expand services after puppy-deaths case
The entrance of the Palo Alto animal shelter, which is operated by the nonprofit Pets In Need, on June 15, 2021

Pets In Need, the nonprofit organization that runs Palo Alto's animal shelter, has issued a statement it hopes will help mend its relationship with the community now that a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge has ruled three of its workers were not negligent in the heat-related deaths of seven puppies last year.

In an Aug. 9 statement, Pets In Need said the nonprofit organization is satisfied with the court's decision to grant the three workers who faced misdemeanor charges access to a diversion program requiring two of them to perform community service and a stipulation that all three not have any other legal issues for six months. They are also eligible for criminal-record expungement.

The court's decision "will allow our community to close this regrettable chapter and continue to focus on our nearly 60-year mission of providing loving and lasting homes for at-risk animals in the Bay Area and beyond," the Pets In Need statement said.

A group of cats fostered by Pets In Need, which manages the Palo Alto animal shelter, on June 15, 2021 . Photo by Daniela Beltran B

"Aug. 2, 2021 was a tough day for the entire Pets In Need community, and we are firmly committed to ensuring that an incident like that never happens again. In the past year, PIN has consulted with veterinary experts from the U.C. Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program to carefully audit and update our transport, animal care and housing protocols to reflect best practices. These are critical for us to meet animal care responsibilities that include proper nutrition, proper hydration, proper enrichment and behavior care, and proper medical care," the organization stated.

Pets In Need has also improved staff resources and training, and it has appointed new managers for the shelter, for adoptions and for volunteers, and new directors of shelter medicine, shelter operations, finance and human resources.

"We are committed to placing the right people in the right jobs and cultivating a supportive environment where people are managed effectively, reviewed fairly, and treated with dignity and respect," the organization stated.

Pets In Need has also expanded outreach and services in local communities, including help and resources for underserved communities through financial assistance to low-income pet owners for veterinary bills, free and low-cost vaccine clinics at more locations and pet-food assistance. They will soon offer health checks and spay and neuter surgeries through their mobile veterinary unit and plan to expand easier adoption services.

Pets In Need is also continuing talks with the city of Palo Alto regarding continued services in Palo Alto.

"Last year's incident shook not only our larger community but perhaps most acutely our direct services staff and in-house volunteers. Every person who comes to work at or with PIN does so because of their deep love of animals and dedication to saving lives. Our ability to carry out our mission is made possible by their commitment and efforts, and for that we are extremely grateful.

"We believe the best thing we can do is continue applying the important lessons we have learned and implementing the type of improvements that are helping PIN become a best-in-class animal shelter. The best organizations continually evolve, and we embrace that here," the organization stated.