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Who’s Helping the Animals Near You? Likely Not the ASPCA

posted September 13th, 2015 by
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Ken White Become a fan

President, Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA


Posted: 09/11/2015 2:03 pm EDT Updated: 09/11/2015 2:59 pm EDT

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As the saying goes, it’s déjà vu all over again. This weekend I received two letters from the New York City-based ASPCA. The letters were identical, although they came with different envelope stuffers. Why does this seem familiar?

Well, back in October 2010, the ASPCA sent fundraising letters throughout the San Francisco Bay Area that told the story of a dog named Brutus who had been horribly abused then rescued and treated by ASPCA. Although some organizations with national sounding names make up their stories, I have no reason to doubt the ASPCA tale of Brutus, and I have no reason to do anything but commend ASPCA for that effort and others like it that they make to save animals.

What I did take exception to then was the argument meant to encourage the reader here in the Bay Area to send donations to ASPCA. Quoting now from its text:

  1. “As you read this letter, somewhere — perhaps not far from you — someone is inflicting pain on an innocent and helpless animal.”
  2. “You may not be able to rescue that particular animal.”

3. “Please send the largest gift you can manage to help the ASPCA save animals like Brutus…”

My problem, then as now, is that ASPCA operates out of a shelter in Manhattan. Manhattan is literally a country away from the San Francisco Bay Area. If an animal “perhaps not far from you” in the Bay Area is being abused, contacting ASPCA will do nothing to help that animal. If you “send the largest gift you can manage to help the ASPCA save animals like Brutus,” that gift will do absolutely nothing to help an animal “perhaps not far from you.

Back in 2012, residents of the Bay Area started again contacting me about another fundraising letter from ASPCA, this one telling a remarkably similar story about a dog named Spike. Again, this letter included the exact same language as above, only inserting Spike’s name. Again, I have no reason to think the story untrue, but I have every reason to know that gifts from residents of the San Francisco Bay Area will not help animals here in the San Francisco Bay Area. That claim is, simply, a lie.

In 2013 and 2014 I received the same letter about Spike, which caused me to wonder: If ASPCA is doing so much to help animals, I’m sort of surprised they don’t have a more recent case to write about!

My guess is someone at the ASPCA had the same question, so perhaps no surprise that this past weekend’s two ASPCA letters now focus on a dog named Wickham. Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same letter I’ve been receiving for the past five years.

ASPCA is not the “mothership” of the SPCA in your community, although presenting itself as if it is obviously proves to be an effective fundraising method for them. Shame on them. Each of the thousands of SPCAs, humane societies and animal control agencies around the country is an independent organization. Sometimes we work together, sometimes not. Sometimes we agree with each other, sometimes not. We are each of us distinct.

The letter goes on to talk about ASPCA’s work in places around the country, claiming that last year they “…traveled across the country assisting in anti-cruelty raids and disaster relief efforts… …from Miami to Sacramento and many places in between.” That’s carefully written, assuming it’s true (and I have no reason to doubt that it is) to make it seem like a coast (Miami) to coast (Sacramento) campaign. However, let’s be clear that there are a whole lot of places in between Miami and Sacramento, places with local humane societies and SPCAs and animal control agencies doing really hard and good work to help animals in their community without a stitch of help from ASPCA’s New York City-based employees.

Know who is asking for your money, and know who is spending it to help the animals near you. If you need help figuring out who that is in your community, send me an email and I’ll see if I can find the answer. Chances are it’s not ASPCA.

Fund Raising Funding Nonprofits Aspca Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA PHS/SPCA American SPCA

Keep Halloween safe and fun for your fur kids

posted October 27th, 2013 by
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The big day is coming up soon and there will be plenty of festivities happening all week.

And while Halloween can be great fun for your fur kids as well as your human kids (and even us really big kids!), there are plenty of opportunities for pet mishaps on the spookiest night of the year.

All of those bowls of candy and treats sitting around, and even some of the decorations, can be very tempting to pets. But a lot of those goodies can cause upset tummies if eaten and, at the worst, be toxic, according to the ASPCA.

Candles and wires from decorations also pose a risk to the more curious pets (cats, I’m looking at you), so make sure to keep them out of reach.

Planning to dress up your pet for the holiday? Make sure her costume fits well and does not have any easy to chew off pieces. It’s also a good idea to make sure your pet actually will enjoy being dressed up.

And for any animals who are shy or might try to dart out the door past trick or treaters, consider creating a calm space in a separate room away from the front door. For more safety tips from the ASPCA, visit aspca.org/pet-care/halloween-safety-tips.

Now that we’re clear on how to keep our kiddos safe, let’s make it a fun night for them, too!

Help your pooch feel included in the fun by having some special treats on hand. This site has some great ideas, the easiest being to mix in some fresh or canned pumpkin in with your dog’s usual kibble for a festive Halloween dinner.

And if your pet happens to be one of those hams who loves dressing up, check out this adorable slide show of pet costumes for inspiration. The Bob Barker costume is my favorite, by far.

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

-Lauren Cavagnolo, [email protected]