Friday, July 24, 2009
Update on New Humane AdvocateThe mission of the East Bay SPCA is clear – prevent cruelty to animals and save lives. Too frequently we see the end result of neglect or cruelty, far past the time that would have been reasonable to intervene. As a consequence, the animals have paid a terrible price. This is unacceptable to us.
This is why we created the new position of Humane Advocate and asked for special contributions to fund the position. Because you are a generous supporter of the East Bay SPCA, I want to tell you this initiative has been met with immediate success and to share with you this interim report.
We believe that most cruelty and neglect is unintentional, due largely to lack of education. Intervention at an early stage can greatly improve the lives of animals, and of their owners. Our Humane Advocate is truly a social worker for both people and animals, and we are now coming into the community offering support, education and compassion.
Oakland Animal Control as you may know is a division of the Oakland Police Department. Oakland Animal Control has been for a long time staffed by dedicated professionals who work tirelessly to respond to complaints of animal cruelty, abandonment and worse. With the city budget in a record deficit, and the animal control division already understaffed, increasing staffing levels is not an option. Add to that an economic downturn that is being compared to the Great Depression and we can honestly say it is a horrible time to be a pet. Animals ending up in shelters have increased tremendously since 2007 – the first time this number has increased in six years.
With so much stacked against pets, pet owners and city funded animal control, it was time for us to step up. Before sending our Humane Advocate into the field, we met with the acting Deputy Police Chief. He welcomed our proposal with enthusiasm. To ensure solid teamwork between our new Humane Advocate and our peer Animal Control officers, our staff will now be included in weekly police/animal control meetings and debriefs. Cases will be referred to us from them, and similarly, cases coming directly to us would be communicated with them.
Our Humane Advocate hit the ground running. An experienced animal control officer from another city, she headed straight into the community and got to work.
One of her first cases came by way of a Good Samaritan who brought in an injured stray dog. After paying for his care, she asked if we could come into her community and educate her neighbors – most of whom had free-roaming, breeding dogs that frequently got hit by cars. After a long strategic meeting and review of the neighborhood, it was decided that the Samaritan would host a “block party” for all her neighbors. The East Bay SPCA would be there to give free shots, free spay/neuter certificates and do an educational talk – all translated into Spanish by our host. The event was a huge success with over 35 dogs getting shots and other necessary tools such as collars and leashes, flea treatment, brushes and such. More events are planned for the future.
Another call came by way of Oakland Police. Neighbors had been complaining about a house that was breeding pit bulls. The conditions were squalid and the police confiscated the dogs. Our advocate went out there and met the two gentlemen who had the dogs, and started a dialogue. Within a day we had the adult dogs in for free spay and neuter, as well as three remaining puppies. Our advocate offered advice on cleaning up the property to make it more dog friendly, and more enjoyable for both people and pets. The puppies were found good homes and the female pitbull returned to her owners (after our advocate did a check and cleared them to re-own)– who now have become advocates of spaying and neutering dogs. Working with us they got to learn first hand how many pitbulls end up in shelters and never make it out. Deciding to become part of the solution, rather than the problem, they are now spokespeople for our services – and for the humane treatment of pets. They still communicate regularly with us.
We have dozens more similar stories. It gives me such pride to say we are effectively tackling some of the most difficult situations in the field and making a positive difference. The collaboration between Oakland Animal Control/Oakland Police Department and the East Bay SPCA should serve as a model for other cities. We are proof that it does work.
These success stories, with hundreds more to come, are because of the support we get from you and all our donors. I offer you my sincerest heart-felt thank you for the life-changing differences you are making in our community.