“In my life, animals have been a profound gift—not just dear companions, but teachers and healers, showing how to live and love fully and in the moment. That’s why the opening of Annenberg PetSpace is so thrilling for me. It will be a world class space in which to study the joys and mysteries of life in all its forms. It will be an innovative and interactive place for families to engage with animals and animal lovers of all kinds.”
—Annenberg Foundation Chairman and CEO Wallis Annenberg
During the 20 years we have been reporting on and celebrating dog culture in all its forms, we have seen vast improvements in the way dogs are housed at shelters. One of the earliest to make these improvements, SF SPCA’s Maddie’s Adoption Center (which also opened about 20 years ago) led the way, promoting the value of environmental enrichment for their shelter “guests.” It’s not just about better digs, however.
It’s also about the heightened awareness that has led trainers, behaviorists, staff and rafts of eager volunteers to provide both mental and physical stimulation for the animals they shelter. As a result, dogs are happier and facilities taking this approach have increased adoption rates nationwide.
Now comes a high-tech expansion of that venerable concept: Los Angeles’ state-of-the-art Wallis Annenberg PetSpace. This 10-years-in-the making, adoption/ education/community center, which opened its doors in June, is the brainchild of its namesake, philanthropist Wallis Annenberg. An amazing 30,000-square-foot facility located in Playa Vista, it houses dogs, cats and rabbits from County of Los Angeles shelters. The dogs have private glass suites, and each suite has a “Pet Book,” a large, interactive digital screen that displays the dog’s personal information. Play areas, a veterinary-care unit and a grooming facility are there to cater to the needs of its animal guests.
The center takes a holistic approach. People looking for new animal companions are given one-on-one assistance in finding their best match, then offered a wide variety of courses and events (tailored to different age levels)
to help ensure that each adoption is a success.
Looking to the future, the center’s Leadership Institute hopes to expand the study of the humananimal bond. Sixteen research fellows, all experts in their fields —among them, Alexandra Horowitz, who studies canine cognition, and evolutionary biologist Greger Larson—will be collaborating to, as Dr. Horowitz says, “forge new ways to think about the human-animal relationship.” One of their goals is to spur action, not just in academia, but in society as a whole.
This is also a nifty destination, so if you’re in the area, make time to schedule a visit, attend a class or take part in an activity.