After a year of pivoting during the pandemic to continue to protect dogs and cats, Trent to lead virtual event on Jun. 12


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

SAN LUIS OBISPO — When the pandemic hit and the future was uncertain, Woods Humane Society was in good hands. CEO Neil Trent, who celebrates two years with the nonprofit dog and cat adoption center this month, has spent more than three decades facilitating the humane treatment of animals amidst major crises. From war-torn Bosnia, to drought-plagued Australia, to tsunami relief efforts in Indonesia, Trent has gone around the world to aid animals in times of critical need.

Luckily for the homeless animals of the Central Coast, Trent was here to provide that crucial expertise and perspective which helped Woods to pivot and maintain its adoption, veterinary, and community programs throughout the chaos of the last year. The organization enacted safety measures and operational changes to remain open, continue its life-saving work, and find homes for thousands of dogs and cats in 2020.

“When the pandemic started, I had real misgivings about how we would survive without our fundraising events,” Trent says. Fortunately, under his guidance, Woods was able to swiftly transition to virtual platforms for its two main events in 2020, and will do so again on Jun. 12, 2021, for a virtual gala and auction, There’s No Place Like SLOme, which Trent will host. “We have appealed to the community, and they have been there for us. It is that vital volunteer and donor support that allows us to continue to raise the bar for the highest possible care and welfare of dogs and cats—even in a pandemic.”

Getting through this together, Atascadero

Trent has seen the full spectrum of animal welfare over his career, which he began as an animal inspector for the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) in the United Kingdom. He still vividly remembers the first dog he rescued at the RSPCA, a German Shepherd named Pippa (pictured at right), who weighed only 32 pounds, when Trent scaled the barbed wire fence and busted into a locked barn to save her in an animal cruelty case.

Pippa, the first dog that Trent rescued while working with RSPCA

From the RSPCA, Trent moved on to work in more large-scale, global efforts. He was the Regional Director for the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and Executive Director of the Humane Society International, the international arm of the HSUS, where he led rescue and relief efforts as well as worked with local governments in far-flung places like Ethiopia, to change their policies of cruel and inhumane treatment of animals.

When he came to Woods two years ago, Trent says, it was a welcome return to that initial passion ignited by Pippa of making a difference, one-on-one, for one dog. He says he has enjoyed getting back to his roots in that way while leading such a wonderful team and an organization he had long admired for its excellent reputation in the industry.

“I consider myself very fortunate to be a part of this team and to use my experience and skill set to continue the growth of the organization and to improve the lives of even more animals.”

During his two years at the helm, Trent has worked to enhance and empower the leadership team at Woods by developing a more collaborative culture and has expanded Woods’ community programs, among other advancements. With this strong foundation in place, he hopes to take Woods to the next level as the organization works toward its goals to update and expand its shelter at the North County location in Atascadero.

To support Woods Humane Society’s ongoing mission, visit WoodsHumane.org/Donate. Tickets to the fundraising event There’s No Place Like SLOme will go on sale on May 12 at WoodsHumaneSociety.org/SLOME.