Amanda Hefner - GARC World Rabies Day awards nominee

Description of your work

The Woods Humane Society offers low cost and free spay and neuter for feral community cats and it is mandatory that these cats receive a free rabies vaccination, assisting in the protection of public health. Woods Humane Society works hand-in-hand with other groups in San Luis Obispo County to provide an ultra-low cost option for these cats. All cats receive a rabies vaccination. They also will treat these cats with flea and tapeworm medication, preventing zoonotic disease in the human population.

Impact in numbers

San Luis Obispo County is a community of over 280,000 people. Project M.E.O.W. (Method of Ending Overpopulation) is run by Woods Humane Society and educates thousands of people per year on community feral cats. Located in two areas of the county, Woods has educated over 3,000 people per year on caring for animals and the importance of receiving a rabies vaccination.

Impact (description)

The impact of Woods Humane Society is seen throughout the county, but especially in rural areas that lack public health and veterinary care services such as San Miguel. There are frequent loose dogs and cats and there have been many calls to the local Animal Control Services regarding loose and fear biting dogs in this community. Having the free feral cat service to this community shares information to those living there about the importance of rabies vaccination and ensures the education of the inhabitants that they can then share with their families.

My personal experience with rabies

Living in California, we are lucky to have a strong infrastructure when it comes to mandating dogs be vaccinated. However, cats are not legally required to be vaccinated and rural areas suffer from mass overpopulation. Knowing the One Health issues that are occurring in the world with an increase in emerging infectious diseases and an increase in population with more urban-wildlife interfacing, rabies vaccination is more important than ever. Many that live in San Miguel are temporary workers that migrate from Mexico to work for the season and the Mexican rabies prevention is not as robust as in the United States. Just as diseases such as COVID and Monkeypox have spread internationally, animals moving across borders can also spread rabies. Unless the population is educated, there will be more human cases exposed. Woods Humane Society's work on this is critical to educating and vaccinating feral cats to prevent human exposure.


San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce

Good Morning San Luis

Obispo Feline Network of the Central Coast

Paws Cause

Kern County Animal Services

Bakersfield Animal Care Services


*All information supplied by nominee. Content edited for language and formatting only*

Amanda Hefner - GARC World Rabies Day awards nominee
Amanda Hefner - GARC World Rabies Day awards nominee