Gary Weitzman, a veterinarian with more than 25 years of animal welfare experience and a published author, joined the San Diego Humane Society as their president in 2012. A significant focus for the SDHS is a movement called “Getting to Zero”, a comprehensive plan to save the life of the more than 45,000 healthy and treatable animals in San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition shelters each year.

We took a moment of Gary’s time to ask him about his deep love for his own pets.

apl: What pets do you currently own? How did they come to join your family?
First of all, I don’t own them, they own me. Jake is my ten-year-old, three-legged German Shepherd who just had a hip replacement. Betty is a pit bull mix, and the sweetest living thing on earth. Jake came to me as a cruelty case when he was a puppy and it was love at first sight. Betty smuggled herself into a truckload of puppy mill dogs. Both of them were unintended but that’s what happens when you’re surrounded by animals in need of love every day.

apl: What factors were important in selecting your pet?
Selection for me is all about which animal needs the most help. Everyone who has met Jake knows that he wouldn’t have ever been adopted by anyone else on earth. All I care about is that the animals have the best lives possible. I reap the benefits of their unconditional love. It works both ways.

apl: What are the funniest things that your pets do?
Both of my dogs come to work me every day. The first thing they do is leave my office to go “trick or treating”. Betty is the ringleader. She quickly learned which offices have the best treats, that’s why she has gained so much weight since we moved here three years ago!

apl: Any locations in San Diego or activities your pets enjoy?
Shelter Island is their favorite place. Seeing them happy makes it my favorite place too. When we first came to San Diego three years ago from Washington DC, I took them to Dog Beach in OB often so I could teach Jake and Betty to be Southern Californians. Let’s just say, they’ve been quick to adjust to Southern California. Who wouldn’t be?

apl: What else would you like to share with our readers?
We’ve eliminated unnecessary euthanasia in our community, but the incredible amount of work will never end. This comes with a substantial cost and impact on resources, so community support – whether it’s volunteering, adopting or donating – is needed now more than ever. Together, we’re on our way to making San Diego the pet-safest community in the nation. And that’s something we should all be proud of. 

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