When Neil Trent took over as CEO of Woods Humane Society, he was determined to make a difference. At the time, the animal shelter was in a serious financial crisis that resulted in the Humane Society being taken over by two other local organizations. Trent wanted to right the ship and return Woods Humane Society to its former glory, which meant raising money and saving as many animals as possible. He quickly realized that the only way to do this was by getting the community involved. “I knew that we had to spread the message that animals need to be rescued and adopted,” recalls Trent. “Only then could we raise the money we needed to save animals.”

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Neil Trent saw the opportunity to help the community by getting involved in the rebuilding effort. After a year of volunteering, Trent realized he had found his calling: social work. “I ended up in this job because of Katrina,” he says. “I wanted to continue to help the community, but I wanted to help animals, too.”

After a year of pandemic to better protect dogs and cats, Trent will be on12. Organise a virtual event in June

Neil Trent with his dog Rosie. Photo: Gillian Hersh Photography

SAN LUIS OBISPO – When the pandemic hit and the future was uncertain, the Woods Humane Society was in good hands. CEO Neil Trent, who celebrates his second anniversary at the nonprofit dog and cat adoption agency this month, has been committed to the humane treatment of animals in serious crisis for more than three decades. From war-torn Bosnia to drought-stricken Australia to tsunami-ravaged Indonesia, Trent has traveled the world helping animals in their time of need.

Fortunately for the homeless animals of the Central Coast, Trent was there to provide those important insights and perspectives that helped Woods rebuild and sustain his adoption, veterinary and community programs during the chaos of the past year. The organization has taken safety measures and made changes to stay open, continue its rescue work and find homes for thousands of dogs and cats in 2020.

When the pandemic started, I really doubted we would survive without our fundraising events, Trent says. Fortunately, under his leadership, Woods was able to quickly switch to virtual platforms for his two major events in 2020 and will do so on the 12th. June 20, 2021 for the virtual auction gala hosted by Trent There’s No Place Like SLOme. We reached out to the audience and they supported us. It is this vital support from volunteers and donors that allows us to continue to set the bar high for the care and welfare of dogs and cats, even in the face of a pandemic.

In his career, which began as an inspector for the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) in the UK, Trent has seen the whole spectrum of animal welfare. He vividly remembers the first dog he rescued at the RSPCA, a German shepherd named Pippa (pictured right), who weighed just 10kg when Trent climbed over a barbed wire fence and broke into a locked barn to rescue her in a case of animal cruelty.

Pippa, the first dog Trent rescued while working for the RSPCA.

After Trent left the RSPCA, he worked on larger, international projects. He was regional director of the World Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (WSPA) and executive director of Humane Society International, an international arm of The HSUS, where he led rescue and relief efforts and worked with local governments in remote places like Ethiopia to change their policies on the cruel and inhumane treatment of animals.

When he joined Woods two years ago, Trent says it was a welcome return to the passion Pippa had sparked – doing something new, one-on-one, for a dog. He says he is happy to return to his roots and lead such a great team and company that he has long admired for their excellent reputation in the industry.

I consider myself very fortunate to be part of this team and to be able to use my experience and skills to further develop the organisation and improve the lives of even more animals.

During his two years at the helm, Trent strengthened and empowered Woods’ leadership team, including fostering a culture of collaboration and expanding Woods’ community programs. With such a solid foundation, he hopes to take Woods to the next level as the organization works to achieve its goals of renovating and expanding the North County Shelter in Atascadero.

To support the current mission of the Woods Humane Society, visit WoodsHumane.org/Donate. Tickets for the gala, There’s No Place Like SLOme, go on sale on the 12th. May will be available at WoodsHumaneSociety.org/SLOME.


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