A Dog’s Best Friend? A Certain Animal Services Volunteer!

Volunteer of the Month Susan Branfman.

You could call her an optician with an eye for dogs, and then some! Susan Branfman of Encinitas retired after 38 years as an optician for Kaiser Permanente with plans to become a stay-at-home wife and pamper her husband.

But that went by the wayside when she started volunteering for the County’s animal care facility in Carlsbad in 2013. She loves it so much, you’ll find her there up to five times a week. She’ll be the first to tell you, her husband is sadly neglected. But he doesn’t mind. His wife loves helping out at the shelter and the shelter loves her back.

On Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors honored Branfman with a proclamation recognizing her as Volunteer of the Month.

“I love dogs,” said Branfman. “Dogs just want unconditional love.”

Branfman will lend a hand without waiting to be asked, whether it’s working with the dogs, giving out dog beds at night, doing laundry or washing bowls. She doesn’t even mind cleaning the kennels.susan-branfman-002

“Whatever you need, she’s there,” said Supervising Animal Care Attendant Donald Stephens. “Anything that needs to get done, she’ll say, ‘I got it.’”

Branfman has two rescue dogs at home but she says volunteering is her way of giving back. She jokes that you don’t need therapy when you can find unconditional love from the dogs at the shelter. For County Animal Services, Branfman has proven to be such a valuable addition to the shelter that she’s now mentoring new volunteers.

“Our volunteers are so important in helping us care for our animals,” said County Animal Services Director Dawn Danielson. “They spend time with them and learn about their personalities and that information is passed along to potential adopters who can decide whether those animals would be good pets for their home.”

For her part, Branfman says she always cries tear of happiness when the dogs she works with find a home.

“I want all the dogs to find good homes,” said Branfman.

Branfman is one of nearly 1,000 people who volunteered at the County’s three animal shelters last fiscal year saving more than $2.6 million. For more information about volunteers, visit

Tracy DeFore is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact