Humane House: The Coolest New Playhouse on the Peninsula?

Scott Delucchi of the Peninsula Humane Society describes how staff worked through the 'bugs' of its fun, new playroom, the Humane House, during a recent soft opening.


Thank goodness for “soft” openings.  

Last Thursday, we invited a small group of family and friends to check out our newly-completed Humane House.

This interactive learning space on the second floor of our Center for Compassion at 1450 Rollins Road in Burlingame resembles a tricked-out kids’ clubhouse. But, at 400 square feet, it’s sized for adults, and judging from our test group, both will have fun.

The soft-opening is widely used by new restaurants as a way to work out all the kinks, un-snag the snags and remove the “rocks in the road” before the doors officially open.

Here’s what we learned during our sneak preview.  

Anything not bolted down will be moved, kicked and thrown (some of the parents even joined in!).  

An on/off switch on any electrical display will be flipped constantly.  

Most importantly, we learned that the refurbished 1950s-era fridge we’re using to display pet diet and snack tips, can tip over.  Don't worry, it didn’t! But it sure wobbled when an agile youngster swung on the door.  We assumed the tank-like, all-metal fridge built like ‘50s-era cars, was wobble-free. Two long screws and toggle anchors provided the fix.

Now, we’re ready for prime time and ready for summer break. Parents seeking novel (and free!) summer break activities for kids need look no further than the little house on the second floor of our Center for Compassion.

Just one more reason to visit the new jewel of a center we’ve created, mere blocks from Broadway Avenue - the Humane House is open the same hours we’re open for adoptions: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.

The Humane House was a planned feature when the center opened for adoptions, wildlife rehabilitation and obedience classes last September, but was just completed this week. And, it was well worth the wait.

Inside the house, kids can wear a vet’s white lab coat (or other staff uniforms from our dress-up area) and use a wall-mounted light box to view x-rays of animals treated by PHS/SPCA’s medical staff. And, most aren’t just dogs and cats - we have x-rays of turtles, hawks, iguanas and crows, too. In the crow x-ray, kids can clearly see the bullets we removed (the crow had a full recovery).

A few feet away, kids and parents can test their noses in our Sniff Zone, by lifting the little drawers, taking a whiff and trying to identify the hidden item. Spoiler alert: one of the answers is citronella, but you’ll have to visit the house to see why we’ve chosen it for this interactive display!

It only makes sense that we placed a kitty litter box right next to the Sniff Zone. But this is no ordinary litter box; we believe it's the world’s only kitty litter box game. Visitors sift through the box with a scooper to find five hidden tip chips.

There’s more. Our stuffed toy cocker spaniel named Joe (get it?) resides in the corner of the room in a plush dog bed.  On the wall, next to Joe, we’ve mounted a microchip scanner. Guests can use the scanner on Joe to find his chip.

Those with an interest in all things retro will dig our kitchen area, complete with a black and white checkered floor and robin’s egg blue Philco brand fridge. Are grapes good or bad for dogs? How about milk for cats? Open the fridge to find out.

When kids and their parents tire of sniffing, scanning and scooping, they can retire to the small library, which features reference books, nonfiction stories, fun picture books and a cozy rug.

Aside from the interactive activities, we've sprinkled a dozen or so unique displays inside and outside the house as well. How can you make an indoor cat’s life more interesting? Why are raccoons drawn to your yard? What are the common pet health and safety hazards in your home, yard and garage?

To learn all this and much more, visit the Humane House!


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