The Wallis Annenberg PetSpace pairs humans with pets through technology, compassion and play
By Shanee Edwards
Nestled between the Hercules Campus East and The Collective on Bluff Creek Drive, the Wallis Annenberg PetSpace is a remarkable 30,000-square-foot facility that currently cares for 80 rescued dogs, cats and rabbits. The animals come from Los Angeles County shelters and all have one thing in common: They want to come home with you.
Instead of pulling on your heartstrings like those late night TV commercials guilting you into sending money to save an abused dog, PetSpace hopes to inspire you to adopt a furry friend through its groundbreaking technology, friendly animal expert, and its full-service, child-friendly, transparent facility. It’s more of an experience than a shelter, and there’s nothing else like it on the planet.
Here are seven things at PetSpace that inspired us.
1. Help Choosing a Pet You Can Afford
Animal- and human-friendly rooms called interactive Adoption Suites come with a touchscreen to help you find a pet to fit your budget. Marketing and communications director Maria Gonima says the tool helps you plan for the future. “If you know a dog is going to cost $500 a year and that’s $200 over your budget, we can get you another one that might cost $300 annually.” The goal is to help a family create realistic expectations on how much food and veterinary care will cost them.
2. Lifestyle Consideration
Some pets need more attention and training than others, so it’s important to consider how much time and energy you have available to spend on a dog or cat. Gonima says an animal specialist or volunteer will ask you questions similar to those you might find on a dating app. “Do you like to take long walks? Do you like running? I’ve seen people pivot on their pet choice after the conversation because they hadn’t completely understood what certain animals require.” The right lifestyle fit will benefit both pet and owner.
3. PetSpace Spays and Neuters All Pets for You
If a pet comes in that isn’t already spayed or neutered, PetSpace does the procedure right on the premises. In addition, each pet is microchipped, fully vaccinated and given a thorough medical exam and behavioral assessment, all of this covered by a standard $80 adoption fee.
4. Paws and Pages: Reading to Pets
Inspired by the Pediatric Therapy Network, a nonprofit focused on helping children reach their full potential, the PetPorch is the most kid-friendly place in the space. Tiered seating encompasses drawers that small hands can easily open and choose a book or a toy to engage their dog. Reading to animals gives children confidence and makes them feel less self-conscious if they mispronounce a word.
5. Fun, Inviting, Child-Friendly Atmosphere
As you enter the PetSpace, a giant animatronic pooch greets you — similar to the way your own dog would greet you when you come through your front door. Nearby, a robotic cat swipes its paw at anyone running in the human-sized hamster wheel. The hamster wheel has cameras to take pics that you can post to social media. The spaces where the adoptable pets are housed — the Scratching Post for cats, The Hutch for rabbits, and individual Adoption Suites for dogs that have a touch screen with details about each dog — are interactive, transparent and inspire play.
6. An Interactive Grooming Theater
Any guest can watch animals being groomed through a touch-and-hold window. As you’re watching a bunny get bathed, you can touch the window and ask the groomer questions. Through a microphone, the groomer can explain exactly what they are doing and why. The idea is to shed the mystery about the grooming process. “Many animals come through from the county with skin diseases, so this experience is really important for them to get comfortable,” Gonima says.
7. Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteers are always needed to support and care for the animals. Opportunities also include interacting and educating guests. To find out more, visit: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Wallis Annenberg PetSpace is located at 12005 Bluff Creek Drive. Admission is free. (424) 384-1801; annenbergpetspace.org